This is Part 3 of a six-part interview series with FreeAxez CEO Earl Geertgens on the company’s history, Gridd, building design and cable management, the evolution of raised floors and the future of flooring.
The Gridd Products
FreeAxez leads the industry in the development of low profile access floor systems that can aid today’s ever-changing technology. An incredible attention to detail is woven into every product.
The Gridd Adaptive Cabling Distribution system is a raised access floor that makes changing technology infrastructure fast and efficient. This simple, yet revolutionary cable management system allows easy, flexible access to power, voice, and data whenever or wherever needed—and it is all tucked away neatly under the floor.
GriddPower is FreeAxez’s innovative bus bar system which eliminates outdated power cabling that runs inside cable trays mounted underneath raised floors. This pre-configured, modular power system fits neatly under the floor within well-designed channels. GriddPower delivers 50 Amp, 3-Phase, 208 Volt and provides up to 15 Kilowatts of power in one easy-to-install track.
Gridd Mobile furthers FreeAxez’s mission to continuously provide cutting edge technology to the workplace. Gridd Moblie supplies augmented reality technical support. With the use of a smartphone or tablet, this AR app provides as-built drawings, how-to videos, original site pictures, and product information.
Following, we continue our conversation with Earl as he discusses the line of FreeAxez products.
Interviewer: What are the key advantages of Gridd, GriddPower and Gridd Mobile?
Earl: Our Gridd products enhance the speed of installation and delivery of the project itself. For instance, we saved on a project for a large, box store company, conservatively, a month of the construction time. A month of construction time is very expensive, so, speed is a big deal.
GriddPower, same thing, as well as saving overall cost to the end-user. So, we’re not only speeding things up with GriddPower, but we’re giving a tremendous amount of flexibility with what I would refer to as “Day 2” of the entire process.
After the owner moves in and starts occupying the space, having Gridd Mobile in place gives total flexibility after the fact. Gridd Mobile is our newest innovation.
Putting Gridd Mobile in our clients’ hands allows the electrician, or “Bob, the electrician,” as we refer to him, to literally walk into a building—even if he’s never been in that facility before—and have Gridd Mobile on his tablet or cell phone; and with Augmented Reality, he can see through the carpet, through the metal, and find the wires.
On top of that, we have inventory information in the phone in Gridd Mobile. We have original drawings of the facility. We have original photographs of the job as it’s being installed. We maintain a laundry list of all QR codes and all parts and components that are on that particular project.
So, it makes it a lot better for Bob: He doesn’t have to go to a manufacturer’s website, start hunting for what we have, and then sort through everything. Gridd Mobile gives all the SKU numbers for what’s in that particular building that Bob’s standing in at that time.
Interviewer: Why is Gridd considered a sustainable, eco-friendly product?
Earl: The two most significant factors pertain to the fact that we’re not creating a sealed airspace. Again, would be required if you are pushing cool air, like in a plenum. Because we’re not creating a sealed airspace, it says in our UL listing—Underwriter Laboratories, that since we’re not creating a sealed airspace, you can run non-plenum-rated cable.
Plenum-rated cable was developed back in the 1950s. And back in the 50s, DuPont developed a standard still prevalent today: In a sealed airspace—like inside of a sheetrock wall, for instance, or up inside a ceiling—you have to run plenum-rated cable. Interestingly enough, that was invented at a time where people were more afraid of fire than they were of toxins.
This brings us back to the question about being sustainable and eco-friendly: Non-plenum-rated cable means the cable doesn’t have this chemical coating that makes it heat resistant for one minute. It literally is only one minute that the chemical coating saving in the event of a fire. As this type of cable ignites after that one minute, it releases toxins into the air. So naturally, when you multiply all the wire in every building around the world that’s plenum-rated, well… that is a lot of potential for hazardous chemicals in the atmosphere. By the way, you do realize when people do recycling of this kind of cable— guess how they do it?
Interviewer: [laughing] With a Hazmat suit on?
Earl: They put it in heat, in a fire. They burn the coating in the wire off and have the copper leftover that they throw in the bin for recycling. Again, guess what that’s doing to the atmosphere. By our avoidance of all that, using non-plenum-rated cable is a really big plus to the environment.
The second thing, of course, is we have no plastics at all. Our system—steel—is never going to end up in a landfill; it’s always going to get recycled.
The FreeAxez raised access floor system with adaptive cabling distribution can be used in almost any type of building. In Part Four of this interview, Earl will discuss the different types of environments that benefit from a Gridd system application.