Telecom News

What Are Cat5e and Cat6 Cable Testers?

>> Introduction

Unlike electrical conductors, telecommunications conductors need more than a sound physical connection. The conductors must also maintain their shape and layout all the way to the connector, or signal distortions can occur.

Proper tools are necessary and practice is required. Termination of telecommunications cables requires testing and documentation at the time of installation.

To test the link, use one of the recognised hand-held Cat5E and Cat6 cable testers. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure that the test leads used are the correct ones.

The particular model chosen must be specifically designed to test installed cable to Category 5 or 6 standards.

Older versions of cable testers that can only measure Category 5 parameters to the original 1995 specification also known as level II. To measure the new enhanced or Cat5e parameters Level IIE testers are required.

Category 6/Class E measurements require a Level III tester.

>> Preparation Before a Copper Cable Test

Here are the preparations that must be done first:

1. Agree with the user what percentage of the installation to be tested.

2. Agree with the user how the test results are to be presented.

3. Agree with the user how marginal fails will be handled

4. The cable must be tested in both directions. It is assumed that the tester will have a remote injector facility.

>> Cat5E and Cat6 Cable Tester Capabilities

The copper cable testers usually come in a main unit and a remote unit. Without the remote, the tester inspects the line for shorts, opens and split pairs. Used with the remote, the tester tests for miswires and reversals, too.

Here are some of the most common features in a Cable Tester:

1. Wiremap, ID, and faults display on a LCD screen.

2. Tests Cat3, Cat4, Cat5, Cat5E and Cat6 UTP and STP cables.

3. Determines cable lengths, identifies multiple faults, and shows clear Pass/Fail results on an LCD

4. Tests for shorts, opens, miswires, reversals, and split pairs.

5. Cable test results are displayed in wire map format with a message line for shorts and split pairs.

>> Most Common Wire Errors

1. Short

The wire mapper will indicate a short where two conductors are accidentally connected.

2. Open

Open occurs where one or more wires are not connected to the pins on the plug or jack. Opens can also occur due to cable damage.

Most shorts and opens will occur at the connections. Physical examination of the connections should find the fault. If possible, unpatch the cable in a link to help the location. A TDR test will show the distance to the fault to assist you in locating it.

3. Split Pairs

Some wiring verifiers will provide basic connection information, but some faults like split pairs may not show up in their wire maps. Split pairs occur where one wire each of two pairs are reversed on both ends. This is impossible to find with a normal wiring verifier, because the wire map is correct – that is, the pin connections are correct, but the wires are not in proper pairs. This error can only be detected in a NEXT test or balance test, where the unbalanced pairs can be detected.

>> What is Cable Certification

If a cable-certifying tester is available, test your cable link with it. This tester does much more than a wire map; it measures length, attenuation, crosstalk (NEXT), and ACR per EIA standards.

Generally, these testers are set up to provide a “pass/fail” test for the link and only display more information if the link fails a test.

The most common failure in cat5E/6 performance testing is NEXT (Near End Cross Talk), generally caused by untwisting the pairs too much at a punchdown block or jack. Most other performance parameters are a function of the manufacturer of the cable, so no failures should be expected from pretested Cat5E/6 cable.

What Is Armored Cable?

Whenever the question of building wiring is raised, one comes across the term ‘Armoured Cables’. After all, what is armored cable and why is it so important for electrical wiring systems. Let’s know about it.

Armored Cable Definition

Armored cable is a power cable made up by assembling two or more electrical conductors, generally held together with an overall sheath. This electrical cable with high protective covering is used for transmission of electrical power, especially for underground wiring needs. However, these cables may be installed as permanent wiring within buildings, buried in the ground, run overhead, or may even be kept exposed. They are available as single conductor cable as well as multi-conductor cables.

To be more precise, armored cables can be explained as electrical cables with stainless steel or galvanized wire wound over the conductors and insulation. They often have an outer plastics sheath for main distribution supply and buried feeders.

Why is Armored Cable Significant?

As can be made out from its name itself, armored cable is significant due to the ultimate protection it provides keeping in view the most risky job of electricity transmission. It acts as a circuit protective conductor (CPC) and thus provides earthing to the equipment supplied by the cable. However, its earthing capability has been a much debated subject.

Armoured Cable Earthing

A single conductor armoured cable does not have a ground wire. Its sheath is only for protection purpose. Therefore it is always recommended that one core armor cable should not be earthed on both ends. When both the ends are grounded, a “circulating sheath current” can flow between the armour, to ground then back to the armour. Grounding only one end is meant to allow bleeding of any voltage that might be induced into the sheath without creating a circulating current.

Single core armoured cables do not have magnetic fields generated by the other two phases. In a three phase cable, the sum value of the three magnetic fields is zero. In a single core cable, there is no “cancelling” effect and therefore a voltage will be induced in the armour by the magnetic field surrounding the conductor.

To prevent any kind of problem, a single conductor metallic armoured cable having lead, aluminum, stainless steel, steel or copper armors should be bonded to ground, usually at the source end, then isolated from ground along its length.

To know more about this power cable, read Armoured Cables

Gigabit Ethernet – The Higher Performing Version Of LAN Technology

Ethernet is a family of technologies used in local area networks (LANs). Performance ranges from the original 10 MBit/sec standard, up to the latest Gigabit Ethernet technologies which are capable of data transfer at speeds in excess of 1000 MBit/sec.

Interoperability of different components is ensured by the relevant standards (IEEE 802.5), which are maintained by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. The physical media for the data transmission is most commonly copper twisted pairs or fiber optic cables. Other devices, including hubs, bridges and routers are needed to make a complete system.

Ethernet technologies, as defined by IEEE 802.5, are used in most modern-day local area networks. The earliest specifications mandated a data transfer rate of 10 MBit/sec. Enhanced data rates followed, Fast Ethernet describes systems capable of 100 MBit/sec transfer rates, and Gigabit Ethernet describes systems which can operate in excess of 1 GBit/sec (1000 MBit/sec).

1 and 10 GBit/sec versions of the technology have already been deployed quite widely in the field. More advanced 40 and 100 GBit/sec technologies are at an advanced stage of development. The standards for these were ratified in June 2010.

The most commonly used physical media are copper twisted pairs and fiber optics. Fiber optics benefit from higher data rates and greater range, and are immune to all electrical interference. High-performance networks often have twisted wire pairs connecting each user’s computer to the network, with the fiber optic cables being used to form that the backbone of the site.

Local area network systems also contain many other devices, such as hubs, bridges and routers. Hubs are largely obsolete, but can be seen in many older systems, and may still be manufactured and supplied for the support of those systems. Newer systems, including Gigabit systems, will have devices such as bridges, which connect segments together to form a network, and routers, which connect networks together.

Project Management Steps – The First Step to Starting Your Project the Right Way

It is important to have basic project management knowledge before getting started. For many us, we became project managers accidentally. Whether your project succeeds or fails, however, will be no accident. Successful project managers don’t need to know everything, but they know enough to get started and learn as they go. In its essence, project management is preparing, executing, and closing. By the end of this article, you will have the basic foundation on the project management steps.

The first step is preparing. When it comes to preparing, your focus should be on answering the basic questions. Writing a project charter is a great way to get started. The reason is because it answers the important question: why are you doing this project? A project with a weak purpose will go no where. In addition to giving the project a reason, it will also say what are the expected benefits. The most common benefits are making more money, saving money, and saving time (by making things more efficient).

Another tool to help you in preparing is to speak with the people who are affected by the project. These people are referred to as the stakeholders. Getting their feedback will help you focus on what’s important. This is commonly known as the scope. It is equally important to write down both what will and will not be achieved. You want to make sure you know what the stakeholders are expecting.

The next component of preparing involves writing the project plan. This establishes the ground rules. The plan will detail what will be delivered and when, who is doing what, and how will things be done. For example, the communications section will let everyone know when and where they can find status updates. Setting budget and deadlines will give you a target. Remember, a project is temporary. Therefore, every project has an ending and finite resources.

The plan doesn’t need to be perfect, because it will change throughout the project. More important is that you have a plan. Once you are done preparing, it’s time to execute.

Executing is where the rubber meets the road. All the work done in the preparing step is used to guide you. The key thing to remember is to record everything. Following is a checklist of what should be recorded daily:

  • Write down how the project is progressing.
  • Review the work completed by the project team and make notes of any quality issues.
  • If there is a problem, write it to a problem log.
  • When new risks arise, write those down as soon as you think of it.
  • At the end of the day, record anything you learned.

The last point may seem trivial, but it will make your life easier in the closing step.

In addition to logging information, you will also conduct meetings. These are essential and an effective way to follow up with everyone and to get things done. Notably, you’ll get information from your team and make sure everything is on track. If not, this is when you make adjustments to your earlier forecasts.

Depending on the complexity of the project, the executing step may be longer or shorter than the preparing step. You will know the executing step is over once you present the final deliverable mentioned in the plan. That does not mean the end, however. The last step is the closing step.

Closing is a controlled way to end a project. Specifically, this is where you find out if you did a good job. You will look back at the project plan and see if the objectives were met. Was everything in-scope completed? Just as important is to ask the stakeholders if they feel the project was a success, and why or why not? You will also provide a lessons learned report. What did you feel went well? What could you do to make things better? What steps can be combined or omitted? If you’ve kept a daily lessons learned log, this step will simply be compiling everything you have already written into a report.

You now know the basic project management steps. They are preparing, executing, and closing. While project management is not easy, you have the basic foundation. The best way to learn how to manage a project is to get out there and start managing projects. Don’t forget to have fun along the way. If you aren’t having any fun, it isn’t worth doing.

Five Tips to Improve Business Performance

‘MUST DO BETTER!’

How though can we do better and improve our business performance?

Before the National Curriculum I am confident that many people can relate to the standard comment on their school report, ‘Must do better!’ or ‘Can do better!’ Today we constantly see in the media headlines around politics, business and sport emphasising the need to do better such as:

  • “Must do better: Ed Ball’s end-of-term report”
  • “Scotland’s enterprise agencies must do better”
  • “New Tesco boss says must do better in tough UK market”

At work bosses are constantly reminding their employees that they ‘must do better!’ Yet what does ‘must do better’ mean and how many people actually know how to do better? Of course some people may be cruising, are aware of what they should be doing and so may need a jolt. Yet there are many people who just don’t know how to improve their business performance.

For these people, if they did know how to do better they would then choose to use strategies to achieve a better performance. There tends to be the natural assumption that people will naturally have built into their personality all the ingredients necessary to improve their business performance. Unfortunately and too often many people keep a lid on reaching their potential and so this assumption then becomes short sighted.

Another standard response is to be put on an expensive training course to hone skills. Skills are important but if we think about our own training courses how much is really implemented from the training room? We also have to think about the attitude of the delegate… are they there because they want to be or because they were told they had to be? This can make a difference on how much is absorbed.

There are countless articles, white papers and books on improving performance and certainly Steve Covey’s ‘Seven Habits of highly effective people,’ or Brian Mayne’s books on ‘Goal Mapping’ are interesting reads. However it seems to me that the real light bulb moments – those sparks of insight, wisdom, creativity and understanding that really make a difference to performance comes from coaching.

It is through performance coaching that action plans and strategies can be built and ways of overcoming blocks to performance can be decided. Coaches can get to the heart of the matter with a performance coaching approach. Milestones can be created that help bolster confidence and measures for business performance can be determined.

People also want simple and practical tips that can be used immediately. Using an NLP strategy of building on what works and so using some of the ideas from the masters that have already been named, I have put together five tips to improving business performance.

1.Improving awareness of self and others

Improving performance is a result of having a higher self awareness. By knowing yours and your colleague’s likes/dislikes, learning styles, values, thinking styles and how you impact on each other makes a difference to individual and team performance. Research shows by understanding the factors that create an individual’s ‘winning edge’ and then concentrating on improving these factors can make a massive difference. Only when someone has a clear understanding of their potential can they achieve it

2. Possibility consciousness

We filter information according to our beliefs and values. This means that we may hold distorted information about our self and others which can lead to distorted opinions, attitudes, actions and results. It is important to fine tune beliefs by constantly testing what we think is our reality. We do this through looking for evidence and having an open mind. Just because something hasn’t worked yet does not mean that it can’t in the future.

3. Being on Purpose

Not everybody is motivated by the same things; it’s a myth to think that if you throw more money at someone they will perform better. Discovering our own motivation strategies enables someone to maximise performance through the ability to generate enthusiasm. There are a number of psychometric assessments that can help with this

4. Maintain a Positive Focus

The ability to focus on a business activity is obviously fundamental. We can easily get distracted which moves us away from our priorities and sets us off course. By focussing on ‘why we can achieve something’ as opposed to why we can’t allows us to develop solutions even in adversity. It enables an individual to achieve self mastery of mind and emotions

5. Involve to evolve

Too often we rely on our own tried and tested methods and do not think to change our thinking. Sometimes we need to think more inwardly with greater intensity. When we do seek advice it tends to be from more senior colleagues and we do not consider consulting junior members. There is a wealth of information around us that can help us improve our business performance; it’s being conscious and open to it that is often the problem. Receive feedback from different situations.

Is a High End, Expensive Speaker Cable Worth the Cost?

Finally! You are in the store buying the sound system of your dreams when the sales guy asks if you want to buy good quality speaker wire to make sure your audio system is performing at peak quality. Well, of course you do! What is the difference between the normal cable and the good stuff? Not much – just 5x’s the cost or more! But for the best sound, it makes sense to buy the better product – you get what you pay for right?

Well, unfortunately, not necessarily. There is a very lively debate in the audio circles as to the benefit of using high quality cables that have gold/silver components, oxygen free environment, etc. Really the answer comes to “it depends”.

There are number of commentators out there who state that the expensive speaker cable has zero beneficial effect on the sound. They will point to basic physics and formulas to illustrate that it has no bearing. Next, they will highlight double blind tests where participants have been subjected to music played through inexpensive speaker wire, high end speaker wire and, believe it or not, metal clothes hangers as speaker wire. In these tests, the subjects have been unable to tell the difference.

On the other side of the argument are the audiophiles who state emphatically that the high cables make a difference. The reason most people can’t tell the difference is that they are using inferior stereo equipment. The argument is reasonable. If you are using a Wal-Mart stereo with high end wire you are not going to notice a difference. However, if you have the best, most fine tuned equipment money can buy then the high end wire may make a difference. Advocates of this position will also trot out more obscure equations and physics to prove that, in fact, the wire does improve the sound. But really does this science, even if they are correct, even matter?

In experiments playing songs from MP3 recordings and a uncompressed CD recordings, people could not tell the difference between the two. There is, however, a fairly substantial difference in sound quality that is lost on the average music fan. Where does this leave the high end cable then?

In short, you might consider the expensive cables if you:

possess very high end stereo or sound equipment,

listen to your music with full attention on a frequent basis and not just as background noise while working or driving, and

can clearly tell the difference between and a MP3 recording and a CD recording.

Basically, high end speaker cable is a niche product and unless you meet all three requirements you will be wasting your money. Don’t feel bad though as 99.95% of the population falls into this category!

A little bit of information can help you make a wise shopping decision. Hopefully, this information will help you achieve this goal.

What is The Industry Standard When Negotiating Sales Commissions?

One of my readers, a commission salesman, sent me a question the other day that I’ve been asked several times:

What percentage is the industry standard when it comes to negotiating sales commissions?

I’ll share with you my response to him, and I hope it gives you some guidance as to negotiate compensation.

Your sales commission is a truly negotiable item and just as there are

no “standard” contracts, though every stationery store

sells documents that have that header, there are no

hard and fast rules regarding straight commission compensation.

I have seen 20% a great deal, but this will vary based

on a lot of factors:

How well known is the product?

What is the profit margin?

How long does it take to make a sale?

How difficult is this item to sell?

Here’s a commission plan that really worked for me as a salesman, and you might want to negotiate the same sort of scheme.

During graduate school I sold ball point pens, two gross at a shot over the phone.

I “bought” the pens from management at something like

16 cents and sold them for 33 cents. This was a “keep

all over” commission plan, so I could choose to sell

pens at any price I wished. My upward limitation was

the 49 cents engraving at the top of each pen’s

barrel.

I made great money this way, and the house got its

price, too. It was a win-win commission arrangement.

But with any plan you need to be careful, especially if you’re selling for someone else. Make sure

SOMEONE ON STAFF NOW is making great money and ask that

person to confide in you, telling you: (1)

Management pays on time, and (2) Management has no

history of cutting back on the commission structure.

Also, make sure that management does not keep more

than a 10% “reserve” against charge-backs, if they

compute them, at all. Also, it needs to be explicitly agreed that funds that accumulate in a

charge-back reserve are yours, released to you at a

definite point in time, i.e. 60 days after sale or

upon receipt of payment from the client.

Hope this helps.

If you need an absolutely astonishing telephone

training program, have your company purchase THE NEW

TELEMARKETING AUDIO SEMINAR shown at my web site, or if you need an on site training program or speech, contact the author.

How to Use a Sample Standard Operating Procedure Template to Write SOP Documents

While a sample standard operating procedure template can ensure that you are following the correct format for your SOP document, you will still have to undertake the hard work of writing it. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to write a standard operating procedure document using an SOP template.

1. Define your objective. Make sure you understand what the procedure you are describing is and what the end-goal will be. Sample procedures for which an SOP can be generated include testing for a particular impurity or writing a contract.

2. If you are writing with a team, recruit your members and organize your team. Start to assign tasks to every member and be sure that everyone understands what they are required to do.

3. Meet with your team to review the sample standard operating procedure template so that they will know how the SOP document will be written. Every team member should also be provided with their own copy of the template so that they can study it further and use it when they start to write their part of the SOP.

4. Start to gather information. Make a list of the data that has to be gathered to write the SOP and then divide it among team members. Assign deadlines for completing the data-gathering phase of the SOP writing process.

5. Write the SOP once all the data has been gathered. Nominate one member of the team to serve as an editor who will oversee the writing and put the SOP document together once all of the writing has been submitted.

6. Examine and test the SOP to ensure that the procedure described is accurate and can actually be performed using the instructions given. Keep in mind that an SOP is specifically aimed at people who are going to be performing the procedure for the first time and they should be able to perform the task described even if they are not familiar with it.

7. Finalize the SOP document by producing a finished draft and submitting it to management for approval.

8. Distribute the SOP document to the personnel concerned.

9. Periodically update the standard operating procedure as required. If new technology is introduced or a new procedure is implemented, rewrite the SOP document to reflect these changes. Make sure that the sample standard operating procedure template is still being followed in the revised document to ensure conformity with the original.

How to Choose the Best Broadband Internet Access Option

Not so many years ago, accessing the Internet was a ‘one size fits all’ technology. When you wanted to surf the web, send and receive emails, post files to a web site, or just play around on AOL, you accessed it all through your telephone line using a modem and a standard dial-up account. Most of us didn’t mind because we realized that the slow speeds we endured were shared by everyone else. The notion of Internet ‘speed envy’ had yet to emerge.

Well, those days are long gone! Nowadays, in ever-increasing numbers, people are dumping their old dial-up modems and those slow connections for a much faster Internet experience through DSL, cable, and satellite technologies. In 2002, only 21% of Internet users had broadband connections at home. As of late 2005, that number had risen to 53% [Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project].

For the remaining 47% still using dial-up access, it’s often because they live where DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) and cable technologies are not available. Yes, there are still lots of rural areas that do not have access to either. Among those who do have access to broadband connections, it is most often older and poorer Americans who choose to keep dial-up access.

Which Internet Access Option is Best for You?

You may be wondering which broadband solution is the best option. While much depends on what’s available in your area, for many users it comes down to a personal choice, centered on convenience, speed, and cost. Let’s examine the various technologies and the relative advantages of each.

Cable Internet Access

Using your home’s existing cable television lines, you can get Internet access included for an additional fee. Expect a large speed increase versus dial-up access. In fact, in many cases cable Internet access is the fastest alternative. Installation is usually completed quickly with just one visit from your cable company’s technicians. You will also need a cable modem (supplied by the cable company in virtually every instance, but can be purchased separately as well).

Clearly, the biggest advantage of going with cable access is speed. All things being equal, it is the fastest of the three broadband alternatives, with a top speed of 10 Mbps (Megabits per second). Having said that, cable speeds can be substantially reduced if you share a local network with a lot of other subscribers. People living in densely packed areas, or locations where the cable company has a lot of users on the same network, will only realize a fraction of that top speed. It’s a good idea to call your cable provider and ask some pointed questions about these issues before you order. Better yet, ask neighbors who have cable Internet what kind of speed they get.

DSL Internet Access

Digital Subscriber Line access utilizes your existing telephone line in an innovative way to greatly increase your Internet speeds. While cable is usually faster, DSL is substantially speedier than traditional dial-up access and offers a much-improved experience for a modest increase in cost. Installation is quick, usually only requiring a simple change at your home’s phone box outside of the house by a phone company technician. You will need a DSL modem, which is included at no extra charge by most providers when you sign an extended service contract.

If you live where DSL is not currently available, be patient. Major providers like Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T are spreading their coverage areas quickly. Even many rural areas can expect to have DSL access in the coming months.

The two big advantages of choosing DSL are cost and speed. You will only need to get the modem and follow some simple instructions to configure it. If you agree to a one-year contract with your phone service provider (most major carriers), the modem will cost you nothing. And the service itself is generally in the $15-$40 per month range, making it a good bargain.

Speed is a bit trickier with DSL. It is slower than cable (top speed is about 6 Mbps), and the major providers offer different packages that limit speeds based on the price you pay per month. To further muddy the waters, DSL is what’s known as a ‘distance limited’ technology. This means that how far you live from the nearest telephone company switching station determines your actual speed. Those living within a few yards will experience the highest speeds, while those at the other end of your street or block may only get half that speed. As with cable, call your local phone provider and ask questions about the various services and what kind of actual speed you can expect based on your exact physical location in relation to the switching station for your street or neighborhood. If you have a next-door neighbor with DSL, ask what his or her experience has been, as yours will probably be very similar.

Satellite Internet Access

Satellite Internet access uses a small mounted dish and group of electronics to send and receive data through satellites orbiting the Earth over the equator. Users must have a clear view of the Southern sky (in the U.S.) from the face of the dish, unobstructed by trees, buildings, and other obstacles. Coaxial cabling connects the outdoor equipment to indoor send-and-receive equipment that then connects to your computer through a standard USB connector or network card.

The major advantage with satellite Internet access is faster connection speeds for people who live where cable and DSL are not available. Users can expect to download data at a rate that is about 10 to 30 times faster than dial-up access. While satellite Internet connections are significantly faster than dial-ups, they are slower than cable and DSL, and should not be the first choice for those who do have cable or DSL available to them. Satellite access is also more expensive than DSL or cable and can suffer outages when the weather turns ugly. Clearly, the other two are better options unless you live where they are not available.

The Bottom Line

Overall, cable and DSL are terrific broadband Internet access solutions for the majority of people who live in urban or suburban locations. Satellite access adds a much-needed alternative for folks living in rural areas, completing the coverage area for the vast majority of America and Canada. While proponents of both cable and DSL have legitimate arguments in favor of their services, deciding between them should be made on an individual basis, determined by the actual speeds and costs for each in your location.

If speed is your top priority and you live where there are not a lot of other users sharing the local cable network, go with cable (especially if your neighbors report high speeds and good service). If not, look into DSL. If cost is your main consideration and speed isn’t as important, a lower-end DSL service will probably be a better fit, as long as you don’t live too far from the nearest telephone switching station. Finally, if you live in a rural area, satellite Internet access may be right up your alley, especially if you long for faster downloads and web site surfing.

Cubicles, Office Partition Systems – Are All Cubicles and Office Partition Systems Really the Same?

There are actually many differences between the various office partition systems available on the market. Let’s take a look at some factors that “separate” them.

Monolithic, Tile, and Stackable Office Partition Systems

A monolithic cubicle system is comprised of solid panels that are of a certain width and height, usually with power and data accommodation running along a bottom raceway, though some monolithic panels have data raceways along the top of the partition and there are even those which can have data and power installed at the belt line, though this is much more common in tile systems. Basically, monolithic is usually the most affordable of the types of office partition systems and is generally not as flexible, with the least accommodation for data and power.

A tile cubicle system generally consists of an open frame partition with flat, removable tiles that snap into the frame. This design usually allows for the entire inside of the partition to be utilized as the cable and power raceway, thus increasing the data cable capacity of the office panel enormously, especially when paired with beltline access ( desk height). Also, depending on the design of the system, the power and data cable access on tile systems makes it easier to perform changes or maintenance on the power and data lines. Also there is more flexibility with the appearance of the tile system. The individual tiles can have different fabrics or other surface materials applied to them, to allow for a more refined, designer look.

A stackable tile system is actually a term used for a few different types of office partition systems. The qualifying feature of a stackable system is that sections of partition can be added on top of other sections, increasing the height of the partition. This flexibility of changing the height of panels without dismantling entire sections of cubicles can make for less maintenance cost and less product cost when adding or reconfiguring areas within your office. Therefore, if you currently own stackable telemarketing low wall cubicles and wish to switch that space to 60″+ high administrative cubicles, it is possible to used the existing panels and add additional height to make them taller, instead of purchasing entirely different partitions for your new application. The stackable feature is available with some monolithic systems and some tile systems. There is also the application of freestanding modular desks with stackable privacy screens that actually mount on top of the furniture, though this product typically is less effective with power and data housing.

Creep, what is it and does it matter?

Creep is a term used in the space planning aspect of office partition systems. Generally defined, creep is the resulting space occupied by a partition ( its thickness ) when attached to another partition in a 90 degree or perpendicular condition. Thus said, when a large open office area is being fitted for office cubicles, the partition creep ( typically 2″ to 4″ per intersection depending on the manufacturer and model) adds up to a sizeable number which can actually affect the possible sizes of the cubicles while keeping the aisles at both legal and comfortable dimensions. Typically, the thicker a panel is the more data lines it will hold, although given the capacity of tile systems, there is usually no real reason for the panel to be made thicker, except in relation to appearance.

Okay, now we want to reconfigure. How in the heck does this stuff come apart?

Ease of assembly and disassembly of office partition systems can vary a great deal due to the design and number of parts involved. Usually, monolithic partition systems are the most cost effective when it comes to the labor involved when reconfiguring your space. The less parts involved, the faster the system comes apart and goes together. Think of it this way. A monolithic panel typically consists of connectors, power jumpers, trim pieces and a single panel. However, a typical tile system consists of connectors, power jumpers, trim pieces, a partition frame and several tiles. Add the stackable option to this equation and you are dealing with an even more complex puzzle. Now, multiply that puzzle by the number of partitions you are dealing with in a single reconfiguration and it becomes obvious that simpler is better when it comes to labor costs.

Quality, quality, and yes, quality!

There is a wide range of office partition systems available on the market when it comes to, you guessed it, quality. Whether or not you receive the lifetime warranty of If it breaks, we’ll fix it, no questions asked, the best scenario is that of no component failures. Lesser partition systems can have “affordable” base trim pieces that fall off or crack when struck lightly by a foot or vacuum. Task lighting, especially some imports (but not all) can be plagued with bulb and ballast failures. Whether or not you are charged for the maintenance and repair visits, simply processing the work order, greeting the service crew, showing them the problem, checking that the problem is now fixed and doing the whole process over again for the next issue can be a costly task, time-wise. Try to find out about maintenance issues before you purchase.

So, what does all of this mean?

Simply put, not all cubicles and office partition systems are created equal. To find the system that will accommodate your data cabling and power needs, be aesthetically pleasing, maximize your available square footage, not cost an excessive amount when reconfiguring, and not break down on a regular basis, can be a rather involved task. Always ask for references (and actually contact them ), do your research, and get quotes from at least three vendors.