The Forgotten Trade
The Telecommunications industry has come a long way from the days when it used to be forgotten about on the architect’s drawings. Network cabling installation was always an afterthought. We would be called in at the end of the job to string a few cables through the ceiling and get out of the way. Things have changed a lot over the years. Telecommunications and other low voltage wiring are an integral part of the building process today.
As much as things have advanced for us in the network cabling installation field, a common reality is that we are still an afterthought on certain jobs, particularly by the architects. They usually just lump us together with the electricians. A triangle by each desk is usually what we see, right? My experience with this may help someone else, so I am going to suggest a few pointers on labeling the network cabling drawings out in the field. Let’s get started:
5 Tips for Labeling your Network Cabling Drawings
1) Study the floor plans BEFORE you start. Check for any obvious errors or an office that is missing a drop. This will prevent renumbering everything later on. This is where mistakes are always made. Put in a little time upfront and you will keep the mistakes to a minimum. If you are numbering the locations put any wall phones (VOIP) or wireless access points at the end of the numbering scheme. If something does get left out, just add it to the end of the numbering scheme. One or two drops out of sequence shouldn’t be a problem.
2) Check to see what type of numbering system the customer wants. This is important because if you use your own system and the customer wants something different you will have to transfer all the information later. Believe me, this is when mistakes happen. The foreman or PM on the job will have to convert all of the old numbers to the new numbers. This can be a daunting and monotonous task especially when you have a large amount of cables.
This will avoid having cables punched down on the wrong ports. There is a ton of extra work involved when this happens. All of the wrong cables have to be toned out, pulled off the panel, relabeled and put into the right ports on the respective patch panel. This really becomes a pain if you have dressed half of the patch panel on the left side and half on the right. If you have cables on the wrong side you have to pull them out and redress to the other side. They could be short, in which case you need to try and get some slack from the service loop (you remembered to leave one right!) or if not out in the hallway. You can see the extra work involved.
3) If you are numbering the network cable locations by hand, write large and clearly when you are numbering the drawings. Remember you know your own handwriting but others may have a hard time deciphering it. Try to write the numbers in a clear space on the drawing, not over desks or other pertinent information you may need to see later. Think about the next guy, which by the way a large majority of people do not! I can write a book on this topic as I’m sure you would agree.
4) If you have any notes, write them directly on the drawing. The crew will tend to guard the drawings they are working from more than other paperwork (emails, notes, etc…). For example, if there is backbone cabling to be run, list them on the data floor plan the crew is working from. This way everything is in one place. I usually write the phone numbers of the general contractor or super, project manager & customer if necessary. This way my foreman has all of the contact info right on his drawings.
5) Always make sure you have a second set of eyes check your numbering scheme. You can and will make mistakes and may not pick it up. This again will save you from many hours of aggravation later on.
Keep these simple but important tips in mind when you are numbering your network cabling floor plans on site. You will use these marked up plans to create as-built drawings to hand in at the end of the job. Include your cabling pathways on the as-builts and any sleeves you have installed. I hope this was helpful.
Please feel free to comment on your own numbering system as there are many different ways to get the job done.