Value Engineering Comms Systems | C-Link

14 December 2018

Value Engineering Comms Systems

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With telecoms, data and security, the ability to value engineer (VE) elements of the work can be quite challenging due to the fact that the specification is all end-user driven. The volume of works depends solely on the equipment the user will have, so the number of connections and cables to these is difficult to manage.

However, VE opportunities do exist and we’ve reviewed these on both refurbishment and new build projects where the scope of works is often totally different.

New Build Projects & Pre-Terminated Looms

New Build projects are traditionally much simpler for Comms installations – typically you have access to large open areas with Raised Access Flooring.

A data cable/network installation has several VE opportunities. Traditionally, for every single device (phones, computers, printers etc.) there is an individual cable installed. The alternative is to install in bundles of up to six cables.

The installation of Pre-Terminated Looms is far quicker than single cable installation as you effectively install/pull six cables at once rather than individually. In addition, these Looms are pre-terminated with a plug on the end, so there is no termination work to do either – another saving!

This simple installation is faster and cheaper on site in terms of installing the cable and terminating the cables. What’s more, the termination is completed in a factory environment and subject to higher Quality Control, which reduces the likelihood of errors or non-conformities.

New Build Projects – Back-Bone Cabling

Data Networks are what we call ‘Home Run’ (i.e. the cables run from the piece of equipment to a Central Cabinet – A to B) and there is one cable for every device. This often means that saving time in installation is difficult: for example, whereas electricians can ‘daisy-chain’ their services, Data Networks cannot.

There is a trick to potentially saving time on site: Back-Bone Cabling.

Back-Bone Cabling is the introduction of a spine in your Network. Typically, cables are run to the Comms Cabinet on the Ground Floor which means additional material and labour costs running every cable from First to Ground, Second to Ground, Third to Ground and so on.

By introducing Back-Bone cabling, you effectively introduce Comms Cabinets on every floor which reduces the project into bite-sized sections and builds a ‘spine’. This reduces the lengths of cabling required, and in turn the material and labour cost drop significantly, It also improves the integrity of the system because each floor is now independent and ring-fenced from the other, which makes identifying problems much simpler.

Despite the saving in time, there are additional costs for a Comms Cabinet on every floor. This can sometimes be expensive, but the costs are often cost neutral or even outweighed when you factor in the omission of cabling costs and the impact of time on preliminary costs.

In summary, Back-Bone Cabling provides a better end product for the Client and will guarantee significant savings in time on your programme so are well worth considering.

Refurbishment Projects

The installation of Comms packages can be broken down into three areas of expertise and trades:

  1. The installation of the cables
  2. The termination of the cables (sockets etc.)
  3. The connection of the cables to the systems (telephone, computers, CCTV, data networks etc.)

What many don’t understand is that the elements above are often completed by three different subcontractors who have expertise in each. One major Value Engineering opportunity is to do this with one company who have competencies across all three.

It’s logical that using three subcontractors is uneconomical and inefficient and it will drive:

  1. Increased material costs
  2. Increased labour costs
  3. Increased management requirements as a result of coordination of the three trades

Using only one Subcontractor removes the need for multiplying coordination meetings, applications for payments, contract drafting and much, much more so will have a real impact on your team’s output and the critical path of the programme.

This is particularly valid on refurbishment projects where there is an existing infrastructure and the scheme has live circuits. For example, a Contractor with just Cabling Installation expertise won’t be able to work on the project as post disconnection, the won’t able to re-connect.

In summary, on refurbishment schemes, save time and money by using a contractor who can complete al three trades.

This article was provided by Grapevine Communications, an independent supplier of telephone, CCTV, access control systems, network cabling services, maintenance support. Read more about Grapevine Communications.

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