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Optimized Connectivity for Changing Office Spaces: How raceways enable ultimate flexibility for multi-functional space designs.

Flexibility is one of the most important attributes of an open plan office design, but it can't exist without a way to put power and data everywhere your employees need it.

Building owners and interior designers are increasingly focusing on creating multipurpose spaces that can transform to meet different needs throughout the day and evening. Think of a collaborative space that can host a yoga class at night, or a lobby or cafe that can accommodate large staff meetings when the furniture is rearranged.

Agile spaces offer owners and managers a way to maximize their return on the investment that they pour into their buildings--and they need connectivity to match.

Traditional Power Solutions

Two retrofit solutions have long been used to run power to new places in existing buildings.

Core drilling: Punching a hole in the concrete to run wires through the ceiling of the floor below. Used for upper floors.

Trenching: Digging a trench to hold the cabling. Used for the ground floor.

Both of these destructive solutions successfully hide wires and cables rather than leaving them out in the open, but they also come with several key disadvantages.

Cost: Digging up concrete isn't cheap. Crews will have to bring in specialized equipment to create holes or trenches in the floor.

Disruption: Core drilling and trenching can't be done in an occupied space because of the noise and dust both methods create. The change can negatively impact occupants' productivity. It also keeps you from using your entire facility. Both of these issues can cost you money.

Permanence: As soon as you break up the concrete, you're essentially tethered to that space for the rest of the time you stay in it. This limits your future reconfiguration options.

Limited application: At some point, the floor can't be drilled or trenched anymore, which limits future flexibility.

Enter: Raceways.

What is a Raceway?

Raceways in their simplest form are metal troughs with hinged or removable covers. They provide a safe, secure home for wires and cables that would otherwise be left exposed and in the way.

They're installed by either screwing them into the concrete slab or attaching them with construction adhesive in a simple process that an electrical contractor or a facilities professional with electrical training can do easily.

A small, unobtrusive hole is cut into the base of the nearby wall to pass cables through. The power wiring and the prewired raceway are connected to the junction box. Data cabling is placed alongside the power wires inside the raceway, which keeps the two apart with a built-in separator.

Then, you'll temporarily remove the carpet tile where you plan to put the raceway and associated transition ramps. One carpet tile will have a small hole removed so that the cables can terminate there. That's where you'll install the electrical device that people will plug technology into.

This straightforward solution addresses two perennial pain points for building owners and facilities managers:

1. Reconfiguring a space without core drilling or trenching

2. Avoiding the potential consequences of not corralling cables properly

Crucial Considerations for Specifying Raceways Choosing the right raceway technology for your building should be simple. But there are a few things to take into consideration that could affect which type of raceways you specify and which components you order.

Start by assessing the needs of the spaces in your facility where you plan to deploy raceways. Ask yourself questions like:

* What's the primary use of my space?

* What else might I use the space for?

* How would those alternate uses change the way furnishings are arranged and the paths people use to navigate through the space?

* How will this space, including the raceways, affect my ability to market the building?

After you've completed your initial assessment, take a deeper dive into the proposed installation to determine which raceway model is best and where you could place it. This should include:

1. ADA Compliance

If you think the raceway may end up poking into a walking path, it's better to opt for a device that can be capped flat at the level of the surrounding carpet, advises Chris Culley, director of product development for Connectrac, a leading raceway manufacturer. "That immediately makes it an ADA-compliant solution because you're removing the trip hazard," he explains.

2. Potential Layouts

Next, develop your initial layouts for the various uses of each room where you'll install raceways. Enlist the manufacturer's help if you get stuck or need assistance in figuring out which types of raceways to put in which location.

Some manufacturers have in-house design teams who can advise customers on optimal placement, says Steve Batchelder, director of sales for Connectrac.

3. Space Upgrades

Look at other upgrades you might make in the space. For example, you might swap out some of the existing seating or desks and replace them with powered furniture. It's helpful to have an idea of potential changes ahead of time because it will affect how many connections you need to route through your raceways.

4. Cable Quantity

Figure out the quantity of cables you'll need to run. This will be easier after you've considered the other ways in which you might use the room. You can run power and data through the same raceway, as long as the device separates the two. Talk to your raceway vendor to make sure that's the case with the raceways you're purchasing.

5. Mid-Renovation Changes

Don't worry if it's late in the renovation game and you're just now introducing raceways. This technology is well-suited to retrofit and renovation applications, even when you're nearly finished updating a space.

The Last Word

The demand for reconfigurable spaces isn't going away anytime soon. Driven by the increasing presence of millennials and Generation Z in the workplace, the move toward flexible workspaces that can transform throughout the day is creating new opportunities for productivity and collaboration. It also requires an adaptable design approach to match.

Raceways are a simple yet powerful way to control power, data, AV and telecommunication cables. The unobtrusive technology can contribute to agile workplace design by delivering connectivity wherever you need it, even when you're reconfiguring the space's layout.

The occupants of your building are growing your organization, but they can't do it without the right resources. Raceways may be the solution that delivers those resources right to your occupants' desks.

Learn more about Connectrac products: connectrac.com

Caption: These diagrams show the components of an under-carpet raceway. Carpet tiles are laid on top of the raceway after it's installed so that only the receptacle module is visible.
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Comment:Optimized Connectivity for Changing Office Spaces: How raceways enable ultimate flexibility for multi-functional space designs.
Publication:Buildings
Date:Jul 1, 2019
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