In an industry that is constantly changing and economically pressured, choosing any contractor or trade can be difficult. However, when it concerns your data cabling, simply choosing a company based on the cheapest quote could more than likely cost you twice.
The cost of data cabling is typically less than 10% of the total network infrastructure cost and if correctly designed and installed should easily last up to 25 years. However, in an industry that is highly competitive, customers can be persuaded into choosing price over quality.
Prior to choosing any contractor, it’s important to know what each individual company offers and to compare the pros and cons as such. Therefore, we have put together a blog based with the customer in mind on what to consider upon narrowing down your options when choosing a data cabling installer.
This is a very sore subject within the data cabling community as many would argue that they have more years of experience yet don’t have the required qualifications to match.
However, since the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) being transferred to the Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS), data cabling installers in the UK are now required to provide evidence of their qualifications and are to meet the relevant requirements set by the JIB – click here to find out more.
We believe this is a huge step in the right direction, as this goes towards eliminating any bogus trades and contractors who don’t have the specific qualifications to carry out data cabling and creates more work opportunities for those who do. Afterall, if your data cabling installer is confident in that they can deliver the required works, they should have no hesitation in providing you physical evidence that they are.
Be sure to ask about what qualifications they have and at what level. The JIB requires a passed S/NVQ Level 3 or equivalent along with supported evidence of three years experience in order to obtain a Datacomms Technician site card – click here to find out more.
One of the most important elements for any contractor or trade is Health & Safety but is often overlooked in the data cabling industry. With most accidents in the UK being from falls from height to which a vast majority of data cabling works are carried out using ladders, it’s essential that your data cabling installer is knowledgeable and holds up to date certificates.
Ideally, your installer should have the following certificates as a minimum:
Obviously, each site is different and depends on the type of customer environment the works are being carried in. However, prior to the commencement of any works, it’s recommended that your installer provides you with their Risk Assessment and Method Statement (also known as RAMS). This will include any potential risks that could pose as hazards and are likely to cause harm to others. The method statement will detail exactly how the works are to be carried out safely – click here to find out more.
It would be beneficial to ask if they have a tool/equipment checklist and what tools they plan on using during the installation. The majority of construction sites in the UK only allow 110V power tools where a transformer (usually yellow colour) is used to convert 240V to 110V. This lower voltage and current are much safer to use and is far less likely to cause serious harm if a wire were cut, stepped on or otherwise damaged.
As such, 110V is now the accepted standard for building sites or where large works are being carried out and may be enforced by insurance companies who insure the building. Alternatively, battery operated power tools are considered another option although, it’s still recommended that you ask for a recent tool/equipment checklist.
The above is just one of many examples on the list of Health & Safety precautions and procedures which can be endless, and should you be unsure, we recommend that you consult your appointed H&S officer or representative bodies.
Comfinity is proud to be accredited by Alcumus SafeContractor. This accreditation is for achieving excellence in health and safety in the workplace. Alcumus SafeContractor is a leading third-party accreditation scheme which recognises extremely rigorous standards in health and safety management amongst contractors. We are very proud to have achieved this accreditation and safety will continue to be at the core of business.
As most of us know, whether it be a new car, house or life insurance, an insurance policy provides us with peace of mind knowing that you’re covered should the worse happen. The same principle goes for contractors and trades. It covers both parties in the event of an accident, for instance, an IT contractor installing network cabling in an occupied office drills into a waterpipe and floods the customers premises and damages their equipment e.g. servers and computers.
While some insurance isn’t a compulsory or legal requirement for data cabling installers, you should still enforce that your installer has it so that you’re fully covered should an injury or any damage happen to one of your employees, staff or customers.
We recommend that your installer has the following insurance policies and cover limit as a minimum:
A copy of the insurance documents should also be provided for your records.
The BIG one! This is one of the main questions to ask your data cabling installer.
A growing concern in the network communications industry is the supply and installation of Copper Cladded Aluminium (CCA) cables disguising as Category rated data and network cables. These cables are non-standards compliant and are often from obscure suppliers and manufacturers who have no formal compliance certification for their products.
While these cables may look like any other, there are consequential differences which present network connectivity problems and pose as risk to fire safety. The presence of these counterfeit cables is widely known throughout the industry and has been a persistent issue for many companies and installers.
The main reason being is that most customers are often looking for ways to save money and are having to work with tight budgets therefore, finding the cheapest and most inexpensive cabling service becomes their goal. However, they may not realise they are not buying standards compliant solid copper cable and instead a counterfeit alternative – click here to find out more.
If you’re comparing prices and one happens to compare against others drastically less expensive, it’s more than likely that it’s because they are using cheap, non-compliant and counterfeit cable which in turn enables them to ‘under-cut’ those of who are offering genuine cable.
To put it simply, in layman's terms, you wouldn’t purchase brakes for your car from a mechanic that sources their parts from a non-reputable and unknown vendor. The same should be considered when it comes to asking your data cabling installer.
Don’t hesitate to ask what suppliers and cabling manufacturer they tend on using. A great way to eliminate any ‘uncertainties’ is to ask for data sheets of the intended cable specification they plan to install. If they are genuine, they should have no problem in supplying required evidence and supporting documentation.
As an accredited installer for the UK’s number one cabling manufacturer and brand Excel, Comfinity ONLY offers solid copper core cabling solutions combined with award-winning technology, category-rated performance and above all, is standards compliant.
Like any purchase, whether it be a vehicle, domestic appliance or computer, a warranty gives a customer peace of mind knowing that their new investment is covered should anything go wrong, the manufacturer will rectify the fault at no cost to the customer.
When it comes to data cabling, most reputable cabling manufacturers offer a free warranty up to 25-years as standard to end-users. However, this is only achievable if the cabling installer has provided a full set of test results using a calibrated level III network cabling tester and has successfully completed the manufacturer's approved training course.
The training course requires the cabling installation company and each of its employees to undergo a rigorous exam every two years, covering a thorough series of questions that cover all aspects of structured cabling including, the manufacturers products, industry standards, installation practices and testing requirements. This training course is at a cost to the installer and if successfully passed, a full accreditation certificate is provided.
This topic should easily help you narrow-down your list of potential contractors. Afterall, if they are confident in their workmanship and products, they should have no hesitation in offering a guarantee to prove it – click here to find out more.
At Comfinity, we are proud to be an approved installer of the UK’s leading data cabling brand and manufacturer Excel. Having passed the training course consequently over a number of years, we are able to offer a full manufacturer 25-year warranty on all copper and fibre optic cabling installations.
With cabling being known to cause as many as half of all network failures, it’s crucial that your cabling installation is tested correctly and meets specification set by TIA, ISO and IEEE.
There are essentially three levels of cable testing – 1. Verification, 2. Qualification and 3. Certification. While both Verification and Qualification can tell you if your cabling is connected correctly, they do not tell you if your cabling fully meets industry standards. Furthermore, they will not detect poor installation practices or if the cable has been excessively untwisted upon termination which can cause crosstalk and return loss.
Certification testing on the other hand, is the most rigorous method of cable testing and is the only level of testing that guarantees whether or not a cable meets its specified performance. It is primarily carried out by trained professionals and commercial network cabling installers where a series of measurements across predefined frequency ranges are compared and in turn provide a Pass or Fail result.
Any new data cabling installation, whether it be a single data point, adding cables to an existing network or a brand-new project, should be tested using a calibrated level three network cable Certification tester.
Requiring certification sets the bar high in terms of what you expect and will keep any cabling contractor on alert knowing you won’t be accepting substandard quality of work. This should help weed out those who cut corners and eliminate any possible bogus contractors.
Generally speaking, any reputable cabling company or contractor that is genuine will have already invested and own this type of equipment due to its significant price ranging from £7,500 up to £25,000, making it an extensive investment for any company.
To find out more about each level of network cable testing, please click here to see our blog where we compare them all.
If your installer is genuine, they should easily be able to provide a list of references, including previous projects they worked on along with customer details. Ideally, you should request at least three references and follow them up.
As an alternative, most reputable data cabling companies and installers will have a Case Studies or Projects section on their website. Look for previous completed projects that are similar to your industry and contact them. Here’s some examples of questions to ask:
At Comfinity, we are proud to have a proven track record of successful data cabling installations underpinned by a showcase of previous projects – click here to see our Case Studies.
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