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University of Wisconsin learns the value of PC-based cable plans.

An examination of the emerging technologies on today's communications scene reveals a dramatic upswing of interest in the maintenance of accurate and through voice and data communications cable records. Businesses know they need to take greater control of their communications facilities, reduce the cost of new material, and preserve critical space.

As a result, cable management systems are rapidly moving into the forefront as effective tools for strategic project planning. This technology is increasingly being viewed as a profitable investment by the communications departments in businesses of all sizes as well as in colleges and universities, governmental organizations, military installations and hospital environments.

No other industry requires the same complete connectivity detail as does the voice and data communications industry. Not only must connectivity of cable or conduit runs be maintained, but more importantly the connectivity of each cable pair must be maintained. This connectivity must be created easily, if quality of data and cable management system usefulness are to be achieved.

Of special interest and concern to today's progressive communications managers is the need for effective yet simple design capabilities. The University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, Oshkosh and La Crosse recently installed a PC-based integrated cable management system to make operations more productive and to maximize the telecom investment.

CableTrak, developed by Quintrel Corp., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, features a CAD-type integration used by the Green Bay campus to design the wire closets on every floor in each building on campus. The CAD module, which is tied to the database, allows system users to cross-connect the incoming to the outgoing cables and pairs with ease.

The system also allows them to lay cables from cross-connects to jacks. This facilitates identification and design of jack location in offices that are new or being remodeled. At the Oshkosh campus, comprised of 42 buildings encompassing six city blocks, Director of Facilities Mary Hoff uses the CAD module to design and remodel rooms. She then sends the updated graphics to the voice and data communications department to move jacks to correspond with wall outlets.

Another important application of a cable management system is disaster recovery. The University of Wisconsin Green Bay campus covers more than 700 acres along the shore of Green Bay. Currently more than 25 buildings are interconnected with over 700 strands of fiber providing voice and data connectivity to about 5,000 jacks.

During the summer of 1991 a new arts building was constructed. The contractor for the excavation work was given plotted outside-plant drawings referencing all fiber and shielded cable runs. Much to the dismay of the entire communications department, however, the contractor failed to share these drawings with the grader operator.

Naturally the inevitable occurred. The major cable which provided service to one of the administration buildings was severed by the grader.

After initial moments of panic with thoughts of the long and tedious hours which would be spent trying to reconstruct the connectivity data, the staff remembered the varied capabilities of the recently installed CableTrak system. So it was immediately put to the test.

With the graphics and database integration, technicians were able to locate and "click" on the affected cable run and obtain all information related to the cable. They also could see which users were affected and determine what services would need to be restored. The cable management system was then used further to determine how to reroute the cables through other cross-connects to get the building's communications system "up and running" again as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Since that time the University of Wisconsin has been able to avert, or at least mitigate, other potentially disastrous situations by using the correlation of the graphics to the corresponding database to confirm cable identity and information.

An efficient, easy-to-use PC-based cable management system can allow businesses, universities, governmental bodies and others to take charge and control their communications facilities as the University of Wisconsin has done rather than allowing the facilities to control them.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Kieper, David G.
Publication:Communications News
Date:Dec 1, 1992
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