High-Tech, Human-Centered Smart Buildings: How Adaptive Cable Management Improves the Workplace

February 6, 2020 | Technology

Cable management is actually a fairly broad term that refers to the organization of electrical or optical cables and includes planning, workmanship, and the products used throughout the process. This includes power cables, audiovisual (AV) cables, network cables (coaxial, twisted-pair, and fiber-optic), cable baskets, cable trays, cable ladders, as well as many other pieces of cutting edge technology. With all of these factors present in a modern office space, cable management is a key component of maintaining a clean, safe, and aesthetically pleasing workplace.

As the number of enterprises showing interest in smart offices grows, cable management has become an important consideration in design and architecture. When accounting for everything that goes into smart buildings and smart offices—Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, smart lighting, smart HVAC systems, network cables, et cetera— it’s obvious that new means of cable management technology that can adapt to the needs of the modern workplace are a necessity, now more than ever. Smart building designs demand flexible and considerate design to manage all the cables your space requires.

Modern-day digital devices in an organizational environment ordinarily require multiple cables to function at full capacity. Desktop computers, for example, commonly require an Ethernet cable and various USB cables for peripheral devices. The size of the workspace, the number of connected devices, and the type of work taking place will determine the number of cables used. Of course, more data-intensive work requires more cables—and more cables make cable management an even more complex process.

Governmental Legislation and Cable Management

Most developed countries have legislation that ensures companies are safely installing, maintaining, and regularly inspecting their cables. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has numerous regulations concerning cable management like Standard 1910.268, which outlines requirements for the installation and removal of telecommunications technology. How an organization manages its cables is a big part of any major building safety inspection. Below are just a few things to avoid when installing Ethernet:

  • Avoid running network cables in unsafe locations. When running Ethernet cables in the ceiling, be sure they don’t cross over water pipes or electrical conduits. Ethernet cables should not touch ceiling tiles, either.
  • Avoid bundling cables too tightly. Often times, technicians are tempted to bundle cables too tightly to get the most out of space. However, bundling cables together too tightly can result in kinks. Kinked Ethernet cables reduce the quality of the network connection. It also damages Ethernet cables and decreases their value. Lastly, should there ever be a network issue, kinked Ethernet cables make it more difficult to troubleshoot the issues.
  • Avoid overloading cable trays. Overloading cabling trays is one of the most common inspection violations, according to OSHA. In addition to that, “overfilling and improperly securing wires in cable trays can lead to a number of serious hazards.” This idea includes overloading (or “over-cabling”) cable racks. Too many cables in data centers create excess heat, which is already an issue without over-cabling.

There are regulations covering the subject of cable management in nearly every state and local jurisdiction as well. Countries such as Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom similarly have legislation overseeing cable management in the workplace. For this reason, cable management should be an organization’s number one priority.

4 Reasons Why Cable Management Is Crucial in the Workplace

It’s easy for people to overlook the importance of Ethernet and other cables. However, considering the national average for installing a hardwired computer network for four rooms, with 6Cat installation, without pre-wiring, costs approximately $2,500— before even factoring in the cost of the cables and other devices, it becomes obvious why you should start to take cable management seriously. On top of that, there are a number of other reasons why cable management should be at the top of your list. Here’s at least four of them:

  1. Promotes an efficient work environment. Having cables strewn about or installed out in the open doesn’t only give clients, potential clients, business partners, and potential business partners a bad impression about your operation, but it has a negative impact on your employees’ morale as well. It’s commonly understood that an untidy workspace leads to feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, according to an article published by Psychology Today. Sherrie Bourg Carter, a Doctor of Psychology, wrote that ” […] Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli, causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important.”
  2. Impresses clients and stakeholders. Providing clients with great selling points or even with an awesome product or service isn’t always enough to keep them around. Believe it or not, your organization’s image really is everything when it comes to business. In an article published by HubSpot, Clifford Chi writes that you can shape your brand’s image through marketing and advertising methods until you’re blue in the face, however, ” […] what really sculpts your corporate image is your company’s actions.” Focusing on cable management and therefore presenting a fully organized and professional-looking space makes a great impression on clients and other stakeholders.
  3. Saves time and money by avoiding damaged network cables. As an owner or manager of an enterprise, you have enough to worry about in terms of overhead and operational costs. The last thing you need is for your valuable hardware to get damaged and time and money repairing something that could have been avoided. Depending on the weight of your cables, handling them incorrectly could cause them to sag, placing tension on parts (such as the RJ-45 connectors) that aren’t designed to withstand that kind of wear and tear. Cables improperly installed along the floor might get crushed underneath heavy equipment or ripped open if something slides over them.
  4. Saves your IT a lot of time. When cables are a scattered, tangled mess, it can be difficult for IT technicians to keep track of what cable is what and where it leads to. This can result in your IT spending nearly as much time (if not more) trying to decipher the mess of cables as they do on the project itself. In a worst-case scenario, they accidentally cut the power off or disrupt the connection to a vital piece of equipment. Poor cable management can turn routine maintenance into a nightmare.

Adaptive Cable Management: A Necessity to Creating Smart Buildings for Flexible Workspaces

Thanks to advancements in digital technology and the Internet of Things (IoT), we now have smart technologies that are revolutionizing how we work and conduct business. IoT technology is the foundation upon which the once-fanciful theory of smart offices, buildings, homes, and cities continues to be built, and ultimately, realized.

According to Wired Magazine, the Internet of Things is most simply the process of any and all devices and objects being fitted with smart technology to “talk” to each other. This new and continuously-evolving architecture relies on various pieces of digital equipment powered by cutting-edge software, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet to complete numerous types of operations comprising an IoT framework.

If you noticed, we have included Ethernet as a part of a complete IoT infrastructure. Many people have the misconception that IoT infrastructures are primarily comprised of wireless connections. Nevertheless, this can’t be farthest from the truth, as each situation is different and requires a number of options to equal a completely operational solution. Whether or not an IoT device uses Wi-Fi or Ethernet totally depends on where the device is located and under what kind of environment it’s operating in.

Additionally, a majority of wireless networks are rooted in wired network technology, hence most “wireless” networks’ existence as veritable hybrids of both wired and wireless network connectivity. With that said, enterprises (especially those planning to create a smart workplace) will be using Ethernet far into the future. In order for such a plan to make sense, enterprise leaders must start putting adaptive cable management at the forefront of their agenda. Not only is adaptive cable management necessary for any smart building design, but it’s also necessary for a modern, flexible workspace.

Introducing Gridd® by FreeAxez: A Simple Yet Ingenious Solution to Adaptive Cable Management

Gridd® by FreeAxez is an adaptive cable management system that goes beyond the traditional “raised access floor,” offering a number of features, components, and specifications to fit any smart building, smart workspace, or coworking space blueprint. Organizations that have implemented the Gridd® Adaptive Cabling Distribution System® along with Gridd Power® are capable of keeping up to speed with fast-evolving technology while easily managing the functionality of an ever-changing open floor plan.

Our Gridd® raised access flooring technology is the most widely accepted standard when it comes to innovative design, superior craftsmanship (everything about our floor is 100 percent Made In America), and excellent customer service. And we have the big-name clientele to back it up. Gridd® has been installed by Fortune 500 Companies such as Visa, NBC Universal, Bank of America, Google, Netflix, Walmart, ESPN, and by governmental institutions like the United States Navy. In addition to that, both Gridd and Gridd Power have won multiple awards including the Broadcast Engineering Pick Hit Award, the Best of Neocon: Gold (Workplace Technologies), and several others.

Contact us today to learn more about the Gridd® Adaptive Cabling Distribution System® and how it promotes high-tech, human-centered smart buildings.

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