Today’s Alphabet Soup: the NEC, PoE and LP

We are getting lots of questions about the recently revised 2017 National Electric Code and its impact on Power over Ethernet. We have answers … and for the most part, it is good news! Here are some of the most common questions we’re getting around the NEC and PoE.

First off, let’s define this alphabet soup we’re talking about.

NEC = National Electric Code. Specifically, we’re addressing the recently revised 2017 National Electric Code.

PoE = Power over Ethernet. For the most part, we are addressing next-generation PoE, or the pending IEEE 802.3bt standard, which will introduce PoE running over all four pairs of an Ethernet cable. This is commonly referred to as PoE++ or 4PPoE. The 802.3bt standard further breaks PoE++ into two types based on power at the source: Type 3 (up to 60W) and Type 4 (up to 99W). (Note: The IEEE 802.3bt standard is expected to be ratified in early 2018.)

LP = Limited Power, a new UL listing for copper cables.

Does the NEC impact all PoE installations?

No. Most installations will not be affected by the new rules. The 2017 NEC addresses only those systems with power levels above 60W, which is the pending Type 4 PoE++. Existing installations of PoE and PoE+, and the pending Type 3 PoE++ are not affected by the 2017 changes to the NEC.

Am I required to use LP cables now?

Again, no. The NEC itself says LP is not required to run Power over Ethernet. However, if you use LP listed cables, it can simplify the installation and inspection of the project.

How can an LP listing make installation simpler?

It’s all about bundling and inspection. With a Type 4 installation, you have two choices: use LP cables or not.

If you use LP listed cables, you don’t have to worry about bundle sizes or inspections.

If you don’t use LP cables, you must follow the NEC’s ampacity table to determine bundle sizes. The installation then is subject to inspection to ensure compliance with the ampacity table bundle sizes. You can find the ampacity table in our recently published technology brief, Impact of 2017 National Electric Code on Power over Ethernet Cabling.

How will inspections happen?

This is where it gets fuzzy. Today, the NEC is adopted primarily at the state level, although in some states, it is adopted and enforced by local jurisdictions. And, state adoption and enforcement varies. While most states today are following the 2014 NEC, some are still following 2011, and a handful still follow 2008. It is unclear how inspections will occur.

What parts of the cabling system need the LP listing?

Permanently installed cable is the only component that requires an LP listing. It does not apply to patch cords.

Do I need to be concerned about fire hazards with higher rated PoE?

No. As long as the installation follows standards for installation, including proper bundling sizes, Power over Ethernet doesn’t pose a life safety threat.


To wrap it all up, the highlights to leave with:

  1. The only affected systems are those running Type 4 PoE++
  2. LP is not required, even for Type 4 PoE++
  3. If you don’t use LP cables for Type 4, the installation will have bundle limits and will be subject to inspection
  4. Life Safety is NOT an issue with Power over Ethernet
  5. Panduit can help! Our most common Cat 6 and Cat 6A cables carry an LP rating, including our MaTriX offering, which handles Power over Ethernet better than any other cable on the market.

Trump and his impact on the healthcare structured cabling market

Healthcare, specifically the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was a central topic healthcarethroughout the recent U.S. presidential campaigns. Though we can’t say how just yet, Donald Trump’s election will likely bring change to the U.S. healthcare market. Trump campaign promises pointed to repealing and replacing the ACA with something completely different; however, as time goes on, it is expected that at least parts of the ACA will remain.

Over the past several years, the U.S. healthcare industry has been consumerized through initiatives like the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). These initiatives changed the way that physicians are paid from a volume-based system to a value-based system. This has forced providers to reduce the cost of care while improving quality and patient outcomes. These cost reductions and the concern for the quality of patient care is likely to continue, and perhaps become even more important during the Trump administration.

Based on what we have heard thus far, analysts predict the following for health care under Trump’s policies:

  • There will be more of an emphasis on price transparency for medical procedures and other healthcare costs.
  • The Medical Productivity Index* (MPI) is expected to increase by 2% by 2026.
  • MACRA is likely to continue.
  • We will see greater consumer responsibility for healthcare costs, creating a more competitive market.
  • The number of uninsured people will increase by as many as 25 million, with conservative estimates hovering around 20 million.

Impact on the Healthcare Structured Cabling Market

What do these things mean for the healthcare structured cabling market? We can expect continued growth in the healthcare industry; however, it may look different than over the past decade.

  • Large hospital new construction is likely to decline. At the same time, hospitals are likely to continue investing in technology. This technology will deliver operational efficiencies and improved precision and diagnostics, which will drive down costs.
  • The amount of data will continue to increase, and speed of retrieval and analysis will be more important than ever. This forces the need for high-speed cabling and large-scale storage, especially as hospital groups continue to acquire independent facilities, creating more centralized systems.
  • Healthcare IT and facilities groups will have less budget to work with while being expected to deliver the highest quality of service to the organization.

Regardless of whether the ACA (also known as ‘Obamacare’) is repealed or not, it appears that the emphasis on value-based care will continue to grow. As structured cabling professionals, it is our responsibility to guide the healthcare community towards solutions that are both cost-effective and deliver the resilience and performance that a medical environment demands.

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*The Medical Industry Leadership Institute developed the Medical Productivity Index to measure the productivity of insurance-financed medical care. The MPI analyzes the health status achieved by a patient relative to the amount of resources invested in that patient’s care. The higher the index number, the better the return on investment. Care through Medicaid produces a low index value, whereas health savings accounts generally produce the highest index value.

Helping Customers Achieve LEED Certification

shutterstock_1215845381Everyone is talking about sustainability these days. We’re doing more than just talking about it.

Our world headquarters, built in 2010, is a LEED Gold Certified building and is just one example of our commitment to healthy, energy efficient, and sustainable business environments.

Today, we’ve taken that commitment one step further, becoming the first manufacturer to be awarded Environmental Product Declarations on copper jacks and cabling. These EPDs, awarded by UL Environment, help your projects become LEED certified.

It’s only been recently that the US Green Building Council adopted LEED version 4, which allows cabling systems to be counted toward LEED points. So, what do you need to know if you’re looking for a cabling system that complies? Below we’ve outlined some of the most common questions that we get.

Q: What’s an EPD/HPD?

EPD = Environmental Product Declarationcertified_epd_green

HPD = Health Product Declaration

EPDs and HPDs are both issued by a third-party after they verify reports supplied by the manufacturer. EPDs disclose potential environmental impacts of a product, while HPDs disclose what a product contains and how it impacts human and ecological health.

Q: What products have EPDs and HPDs?

A wide variety of materials used in the construction of buildings carry these declarations.

The Panduit EPDs cover 18 types of RJ45 jacks and 22 different copper cables. The offering includes:

  • Unshielded and shielded applications
  • Category 5e, Category 6, and Category 6A
  • Riser and plenum flame ratings

HPDs are pending for the same group of products.

Q: How does it work? If I install a product with an EPD, do I automatically get LEED points?

It not quite that simple! LEED requires the installation of at least 20 different products that have third-party certification to qualify for one LEED point. These products must be from at least five different manufacturers. So, when you install at least four different certified products from Panduit, that counts as one portion of one point for EPD and one portion of a second point for HPD. Different levels of LEED certification require different numbers of points to qualify.

Q: Can’t I get EPDs and HPDs with all cabling systems?

No! Panduit is one of a handful of cabling manufacturers that have received EPDs on copper cabling, but we’re the ONLY one to receive EPD certification on RJ45 jacks. So, if you’re looking for an end-to-end solution that can help you earn LEED certification, Panduit is your only choice!

We’d be happy to share more information on our EPDs and HPDs. You can get information on our Sustainable Solutions page, or from Customer Service.

Innovation 2.0

At Panduit, we take pride in finding new solutions to old problems (and new onescim_generic, too!). And, when we  work with the best customers around to help them find solutions to their problems, that’s even better. Last week, Cabling Installation & Maintenance presented their annual Cabling Innovators Awards. And, for the second year, several Panduit projects were recognized as being the best of the best. Without further ado, I’m proud to present a snapshot of our honorees and their cabling innovations.

Purdue University

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CI&M Chief Editor Patrick McLaughlin (left) and Group Publisher Alan Bergstein (right), present a Gold Cabling Innovators Award to (from left) Tom Kelly, Director of Business Development, Enterprise Solutions, Panduit; Daniel Pierce, Telecommunications Design Engineer, Purdue University; and Dennis Renaud, Vice President, Enterprise Solutions, Panduit.

Purdue embarked on a project during the 2014-15 school year, to update and expand their wireless coverage on campus. For today’s students, wireless access isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Information Technology at Purdue tackled the upgrade project in two phases: One to add coverage in residence halls; a second to add density in academic buildings and common areas. The residence hall project caught the judges’ eyes for innovation, as the university relied on Panduit’s surface raceway and 28 AWG patch cords, along with Cisco 702 access points to deliver wireless throughout the residence halls. The raceway/patch cord/AP solution provided the wireless performance they needed while keeping the aesthetic already in place for their wired connections.

The Purdue wireless project was named a “Boilermaker” Gold honoree by the CI&M judges.

Global Insurance and Financial Services Firm

Panduit’s small-diameter cabling is at the heart of the solution installed by a global insurance and financial services firm, to optimize the space in their telecommunications rooms. Switch harnesses with 28-AWG patch cabling has provided four main benefits:

  1. Time: the quick-connect feature cuts installation time from about an hour per RU to 20 minutes per RU … and we all know that time means money!
  2. Space savings and cable management: Because of the small size, more cabling fits, saving rack space for equipment rather than cable management; it also simplifies cable management, making moves, adds, and changes simple.
  3. Single length: The company uses one length of patch cord everywhere, which eliminates ordering and installation errors.
  4. Standardization: Every telecommunication room at all of their sites are deployed with the same footprint, making installation and management easier for everyone involved.

CI&M’s judges awarded this project a gold award.

CenterPoint Energy

Texas-based CenterPoint Energy presented a Texas-sized issue: they wanted to unify their IT physical infrastructure platforms across their internal business units, and within each facility. Multiple vendors, multiple sites, and multiple cities equals multiple headaches. CenterPoint standardized its data center operations around a Panduit Intelligent Data Center solution, including Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software, hardware, and infrastructure offerings. This solution was end-to-end Panduit: fiber and copper cabling, dual cable pathways, PDUs, overhead patching, cooling optimization, grounding and bonding, and thermal containment. “We required a solutions provider that could deliver comprehensive technological advancements while helping us ensure business continuity,” said CenterPoint’s Tom Tanous, senior manager of Business Reliance and Data Center Management.

centerpoint5-cropped

CenterPoint Energy was recognized with a Silver Cabling Innovators Award.

The CenterPoint project was named a silver honoree by CI&M judges.

CyrusOne

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Winner of a Silver Cabling Innovators Award was data center provider CyrusOne. CI&M Chief Editor Patrick McLaughlin (left) and Group Publisher Alan Bergstein (right) presented the award to (from left) Dennis Renaud, Vice President of Enterprise Solutions, Panduit; CyrusOne Chief Information Officer Blake Hankins; and Panduit’s Tom Kelly, Director of Business Development, Enterprise Solutions.

With more than 3 million square feet of rentable data center space, CyrusOne is one of the largest data center providers in the U.S., with global customers relying on CyrusOne’s colocation services. Their new Austin Data Center II has been optimized with Panduit’s SynapSense software, delivering energy savings and increased efficiency by continuously aligning cooling capacity with changes in IT load.

“Panduit has enabled our customers to essentially keep tabs on their servers in CyrusOne’s facility with a level of data access and detail comparable to operating a data center of their own,” said Amaya Souarez, vice president of CyrusOne’s Data Center Systems & Security. “Plus, we’ve experienced both operational and power efficiencies. It’s quite incredible!”

CyrusOne was recognized as a silver honoree by the CI&M judges.

The Innovators Awards were judged based on the following criteria:

  • Innovative
  • Value to the User
  • Sustainability
  • Meeting a Defined Need
  • Collaboration
  • Impact

Alan Bergstein, publisher of Cabling Installation & Maintenance (http://www.cablinginstall.com) said “This prestigious program allows Cabling Installation & Maintenance to celebrate and recognize the most innovative products and services in the structured cabling industry. Our 2016 Honorees are an outstanding example of companies who are making an impact in the industry.”

Congratulations to all of these outstanding customers for their efforts. Panduit is proud to share these awards with all of you.

Panduit Sees Growth in Stagnant Structured Cabling Market

The structured cabling industry showed a downturn in 2015, according to recent research results shared  by BSRIA. The organization noted a difficult global market for the industry, showing a 3% decline, to $6 billion dollars for 2015. They cited a strong U.S. dollar, lower oil prices, and delays in project timelines as the primary market drivers causing market contraction.

A bright spot in the market analysis is the continued growth of Category 6A in structured cabling. This growth is fueled by a growing need for increased bandwidth, and an upward trend to converge separate legacy protocols onto standard Ethernet protocols. The ongoing evolution of wireless communication standards, which require more than 1 Gb of bandwidth to wireless access points, are compelling IT staff to realize that enterprise-wide multi-gig applications are already here.market growth

Panduit has achieved market growth rates for Category 6A that exceed the BSRIA market assessment and we continue to see strong growth for Category 6A in our target markets globally. End users who install our MaTriX solution benefit from improved alien crosstalk, smaller cable diameters, and the best thermal performance in the industry, a critical factor when Power over Ethernet is part of the installation.

Educated end users recognize that the time for smart infrastructure investment is now.

The convergence of separate systems into a single IP network raises the relevance of the network infrastructure. It is at the core of why our customers continue to choose Panduit and drive our sustained growth in a market with strong economic headwinds.

Whether you are looking for a solution to support the convergence of your networks, or simply want to add wireless access points to your space, Panduit would like to help. Contact your sales rep or distributor today, and we will help you identify the perfect solution.

Category 6A in the Enterprise

The rollout of new AC wireless access points in the enterprise represents the first multi-gigabit application to be deployed in the enterprise. This is a perfect time to review the media choices being made to ensure your physical infrastructure is capable of supporting the application for the life of the enterprise. If we compare the relative cost per Gigabit for category 6A and single gig infrastructures, we find that category 6A (10GBASE-T) is more cost-effective per gigabit:

Cost per GB

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Adding New Physical Infrastructure: Part 2

Integrated Infrastructure: A New Approach

In Part 1 of “Adding New Physical Infrastructure” I reviewed three typical approaches taken by managers of small and mid-sized data centers to add new physical infrastructure: (1) build-it-yourself using in-house resources to design and integrate all elements of the infrastructure, (2) rely on a single supplier for design and integration, or (3) entrust multiple best-of-breed vendors to get it done.

We have a different take. As discussed in Part 1, you are likely to face significant risks and expense as you attempt to manage a wide range of technical details, complex project management issues, and multiple vendor relationships. Leveraging physical infrastructure expertise and partnerships with best of breed power and cooling suppliers, Panduit offers an Integrated Infrastructure approach that combines the benefits of both the single-source and best-of-breed approaches with the ease of managing a single supplier.

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Adding a New Physical Infrastructure: Part 1

How do you build out a new data center physical infrastructure?

Under the best of circumstances, building out new data center capacity is complex, expensive, time consuming and fraught with risk. Experts, engineers and consultants are needed for everything from designing the building shell, planning power and cooling systems, to commissioning. These are just the major categories. Think about the expertise needed to manage all the details that cascade from them!

If you are responsible for a small to mid-sized data center you may be faced with doing more of this yourself given the available resources. Increased complexity makes it difficult to find and retain people who possess all the essential skills needed to design and integrate the power, cooling, racks, cabling and other components necessary to complete the build correctly, and on-time. Taking on the coordination of the build-out in addition to normal responsibilities can be overwhelming.

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Are We Approaching a Technical Skills Shortage?

A concern has been growing in recent years over the potential for a technical skills shortage in the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere around the globe, particularly in science, and engineering-related occupations.

It is generally predicted that, by 2018, a mass wave of retirements by members of the Baby Boom generation will result in 1.2 million U.S. job openings in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, and there will likely be a significant shortage of qualified applicants to fill them.  The full depth of the STEM skills shortage may be even greater than this, as 50 percent of jobs that require STEM skills do not require a bachelor’s degree or better, according to Plant Services.

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K.I.S.S. for Better Network Planning and Increased Collaboration

Collaboration between Information Technology (IT) and Operations Technology (OT) is becoming a necessity to design and deploy an industrial network architecture that follows IT best practices for security, high availability, and quality of service.

However, skills gaps still exist between IT and OT that can jeopardize effective planning and configuration of the physical and logical network fabric, especially at the switch level.  In the words of Panduit Solutions Manager Dan McGrath, “My contention is that two kinds of switches are found in many plants today: (1) unmanaged and (2) poorly managed!”

Dan makes a point worth considering, as unmanaged switches are often deployed to enable quick initial startup of the machine or process.  However, this short-term gain can turn into a long-term loss when the time comes to scale more nodes or integrate single machines into the wider factory network, in the form of increased time and materials costs.

Deploying managed switches is a definite step up, but can give plant teams a false sense of manageability and security. If managed switches are deployed as plug-and-play devices without attention to configuration and setup, IT/OT directors may be left with a network that works on Day 1 but is teetering on the edge of functionality or with major security flaws.

To update a famous acronym, I think there is a better approach that IT and OT teams can follow that will drive better network planning and increased team collaboration:  Know, Integrate, Simplify, and Standardize, or K.I.S.S.

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