Consistent data terminations to enable proptech benefits

This article was published in Construction Week November 4th 2020. To view the original article, please click here: https://www.constructionweekonline.com/products-and-services/268647-consistent-data-terminations-to-enable-proptech-benefits  

Brett Smyth, general manager of Ideal Industries EMEA, discusses the need for consistent and compliant data network terminations in smart buildings, and how they can be achieved.

The Middle East property market is known for innovation and ambition that sets a benchmark for contemporary design and engineering around the world. But it’s not just the scale and creativity of architecture that sets developments in the region apart; developers are also keen to embrace technology too.

Proptech Benefits and Challenges
The use of digital and data-driven technologies to enhance a building, or proptech as it’s become known, is leading to increasingly sophisticated fit-out requirements in the Middle East.

Embedding proptech in a project brings together data, software and infrastructure to make buildings more efficient and responsive, while enhancing the user experience. The trend pervades all sectors; from hotels where smart technology can be used to personalise the guest experience, to residential developments where it adds a layer of luxury that complements high-end facilities and sumptuous finishes. In the commercial sector, smart technology can make buildings more adaptable, enhancing comfort levels in real time, improving security and driving efficiency.

As developers respond to demand for smart systems and improved energy efficiency in their projects, the construction sector must rise to the challenge of installing increasingly sophisticated data networks. This complex infrastructure must be installed without delaying the project, either during the build programme or as a result of snagging.

Key to addressing these challenges is ensuring that the multitude of terminations required provide a robust and compliant connection. Any multi-occupancy building - whether it’s a hotel, an apartment block or an office development - is likely to involve an installation that requires multiple operatives carrying out the terminations for data networks.

Consistency can be compromised by individuals working with varying standards of quality and expertise. Time pressures can also jeopardise quality and consistency, with tight programmes causing terminations to be rushed, reducing consistency as a consequence.

When consistency and compliance are compromised, identifying the terminations on the system that need to be rectified can be an onerous and time-consuming task. The answer, therefore, is to ensure terminations are carried out in a way that guarantees best practice and consistency, regardless of the number of operatives and time pressures on site.

Installation Issues
Data networks require field-termination of CAT5e, CAT6 of CAT6A cables using RJ45 modular plugs. The more complex the network, the greater the number RJ45 assemblies and terminations required. Conventional installation methods require conductors to be trimmed to an exact length before the plug is placed onto the cable. If the conductors are too short, circuits will remain open, but this will not be evident until the system is tested. Finding the issues on the network at this point can be a needle-in-a-haystack exercise. 

If the conductors are too long, meanwhile, there is a risk that the pairs could be left exposed outside of the plug body or cable jacket. This not only looks sloppy, but could also hinder performance on the network. In this scenario, the conductors can also move out of place; an issue that is likely to remain unnoticed until the cables are tested.

To overcome both of these potential data network termination issues, technique is needed that will offer complete consistency for every termination, regardless of the number of installation operatives involved, without increasing the time needed to complete the work.

Speed, Simplicity and Consistency
Designed to completely re-think the traditional RJ45 assembly and crimping process, IDEAL Industries’ FT-45 solution allows installers of smart networks to speed up and simplify the termination of RJ45 plugs by eliminating the need to trim conductors to a precise length before inserting the cable into the plug.

The Feed-Thru Modular Plugs are single-piece connectors, so there is no need for installers to assemble a three-piece connector, even when working with CAT6 cable. This makes terminations faster, simpler and more consistent, whether using CAT5e, CAT6 of CAT6A cables.  Conductor wires do not need to be accurately trimmed to a specific length; instead, installers simply need to remove an appropriate section of jacket, remove the centre spline, untwist the pairs into the right order, and trim the ends flat. The cable can then be slid into the connector until seated.

The unit has been designed with open ends that allow conductors to be completely fed through the connector before crimping. The cable can be pushed into the connector to ensure the twisted pairs are as close to the pin contacts as possible, and that the jacket is seated beyond the primary strain relief for a secure connection. The installer can then visually inspect and verify the correct wiring order, ensuring greater accuracy.

The versatile FT-45 Crimp Tool designed to be used with the IDEAL Industries Ft-45 Modular Plugs further enhances the right-first-time consistency of this approach. With a single crimp cavity for RJ-45/8-position connectors, it is capable of crimping Ideal Feed-Thru standard, shielded, and unshielded connectors for CAT5e, CAT6 and CAT6A cables. The installer simply squeezes the handle to the closed position to cleanly shear the excess conductor wires and leave a smooth, flat finish – crimping and cutting the cable in a single action. 

Progressive Approach
The speed, simplicity and consistency the system offers makes FT-45 a popular choice for installers in the Middle East construction market, linking a progressive approach to installation with the progressive smart technology that is helping the region lead the way in delivering the benefits of proptech for both developers and end-users.

If you require any further information or assistance, please call +44 (0)1925 444 446 or contact IDEAL via email: eur.sales@idealindustries.com.