Construction Products Regulation: What is it?

With new rules being implemented by the European Commission (EC), construction products – including cabling for fixed installations – can no longer be used in European buildings or civil engineering works if they are not tested and certified according to the new Construction Products Regulation (CPR) rules.

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The EC’s CPR rules ensure that distributors, consultants, systems integrators, installers and building owners now have reliable product information from different manufacturers in different countries. CPR provides one common language that manufacturers can use when talking about performance of their product. This same language will  also have to be used by architects, engineers, contractors and member states when specifying requirements and selecting products.

Replacing the Construction Products Directive (CPD), which was first published by the EC in 1989, CPR is already applicable for non-cable products since July 2013. The official CPR introduction for cables has officially come into force as of June 10, 2016 with the transition period ending on July. 1, 2017.

CPR combines the common technical language with an agreed system of Assessment and Verification of Constancy of Performance, a framework of Certified Notified Bodies and Mandatory CE Marking.

CPR provides a framework of potential assessment criteria in the following areas:

  1. Mechanical resistance and stability
  2. Safety in the case of fire
  3. Hygiene, health and the environment
  4. Safety in use
  5. Protection against noise
  6. Energy economy and heat retention

Cable product performance is covered in the 2nd requirement that focuses on fire safety ,which includes “Reaction to Fire” (How much  a cable contributes to a fire and its harmful  consequences) and “Resistance to Fire” (For how long a cable can continue to function in case of a fire). Initially CPR is only being implemented for cable performance related to “Reaction to fire.”

Cables will be evaluated based on their performance in a simulated installation, with simultaneous measurements of flame spread, heat release, flaming droplets, smoke emission and corrosivity of gases. They are then placed into the correct Euroclass system based on performance in the following areas: 

  • Flame spread
  • Smoke production
  • Burning falling particles (droplets)
  • Corrosiveness/acidity of combustion gases

For cable manufacturers CPR means that they need to have their cables tested according to the new requirements, provide a Declaration of Performance according to the new Euroclasses, affix a CE Marking to the product and periodically control production.

Although it may seem like CPR only applies to manufacturers, it’s equally as important for everyone in the construction industry to use and understand. Make sure to look out for the following Belden blogs that provide further details about CPR and will explain what CPR means for you. You can learn more about CPR at our dedicated micro-site.

Fiber’s Dicey Future: The Long and the Short of IT

fibre-opticsWith an explosion of connected devices, there is no shortage of data being transmitted and stored via optical networking in the data center. However it’s not just the amount of data—it’s also how that data is being used. And that can be summed up with one word – sharing.   Ever-growing data sets are being shared across multiple vendor applications. In the massive high-density virtualized environments of cloud computing, this is driving more east-west server traffic. As the age of the “Internet of Things” come to fruition, the I/O portion of the equation will evolve like never before.   With all this change on the horizon, what does this mean for the cabling infrastructure inside the data center? Should it be all singlemode or is OM4 multimode the best bet? Read more »

Hydra Assemblies vs Patch Cords

hyrda-assemblies-vs-patch-cordsWith today’s stringent loss budgets and space constraints, some data centers choose to deploy MPO-to-LC hydra cable assemblies rather than LC duplex patch cords. However, there are some key factors to consider. Read more »

Don’t Get In Deep Water

wetcablesAs a follow-up to the blog on the reasons why UTP cables should not be painted, let’s talk about cables that have been exposed to water or other liquids.

While the jacketing on indoor riser- and plenum-rated UTP cables may seem impervious to liquids, let me remind you again that it is actually porous. In fact, any cable rated for indoor use only, whether copper or fiber, should not be exposed to liquids for any length of time.

Let’s take a look at why. Read more »

250um vs. 900um

Ever wonder what the difference is between loose-tube (mini distribution) 250um fiber and tight-buffered 900um fiber?

Loose-tube 250um and tight-buffered 900um fiber cables actually start with the same 250um bare fibers that feature the same size fiber core (i.e., 50um for multimode and 9um for singlemode), 125um cladding and soft 250um coating.

The difference between the two is all in the cable construction. Read more »

Top 5 Reasons to Choose Pre-Term Fiber

FXUHD Pre-Term MPOLet’s face it. Consumer demand for information, increased bandwidth and new applications is continuing to grow at a rapid pace. In response, today’s data centers—both at the enterprise and colocation level—need to turn up networking services as quickly as possible while supporting higher speeds and cutting costs.

Today’s data centers are also looking to provide a seamless migration path from current 10 gigabit speeds to future 40 and 100 gigabit speeds, both of which utilize parallel optics transmission with multi-fiber push on (MPO) connectors as the standards-defined interface. Insertion loss is also a critical parameter that determines the maximum distance of an optical fiber channel for a given transmission rate, and the channel loss for 40 and 100 gigabit Ethernet (GbE) applications is much more stringent than it was with 10 GbE.

When looking at the big picture and all of these factors combined, pre-terminated fiber assemblies for switch-to-switch fiber connections in the backbone and storage area network make more sense than ever.

Let’s look at the top 5 reasons to choose pre-term fiber over traditional field termination.

Read more »

Don’t Paint Yourself Into A Corner

PaintingThis week we have a post from a guest blogger! Greg Funk is a Network Sales Engineer for Belden.

While it might be tempting to paint unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cables or patch cords to match wall color or other surrounding environments, you could be painting yourself into a corner.

UTP cables are NOT designed to withstand exposure to the chemical compounds found in common paint products. In fact, Belden’s longstanding policy is that cables should not come in contact with any type of paint contamination, regardless of application.

Cables that are exposed to paint (or paint remover for that matter) are not acceptable for general use and will not be covered by Belden’s 25-year system warranty or component-level warranty. Remember, Belden certifies the performance of the cabling for the life of the structure—unpredictable interactions between paint and cabling call into question the long-term performance of the cabling system.

Here’s more on why.

Performance

While the jacketing on indoor riser- and plenum-rated UTP cables may seem impervious to liquids, it is actually porous. Paint contamination, regardless of the type of paint or the extent of the contamination, can therefore alter the properties of the materials used in the construction of the cable (i.e., jacketing and insulation). That can affect the cable’s ability to continue meeting original mechanical, electrical and environmental specifications.

Safety

Paint can act as a source of combustion or alter the jacket’s compounds, thereby changing the cable’s flame and smoke ratings. In fact, when the Conformity Assessment Services Department of Underwriters Laboratories (UL) reviewed the issue of paint contamination on UTP cables, they concluded that flame and smoke performance of paint-contaminated cables would be altered and likely degraded.

Identification and Inspection

Paint on the jacket of the cable will also obviously obscure the legend that is used for identifying cable type, application, standards and safety listings and ratings. This can lead one to think that an old Category 3 voice cable can be plugged into a computer.

Few, if any, authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) will allow painted cable to pass safety inspections to meet building codes. Don’t bother trying to remove the paint with paint remover to pass inspection—once a cable has been exposed to the paint chemicals, its jacket may have already absorbed some of the chemicals. And paint remover itself is considered a contaminant that may compound the damage.

While paint on cables can often happen by accident when spaces are given a fresh coat, even a small amount of paint is not acceptable. Whether the cable was sprayed, brushed or rolled, the only remedy is to remove and replace the painted cables. Besides, paint can cause cables or cable bundles to adhere to other cables or surrounding pathway materials. This makes moves, adds and changes pretty much impossible.

Instead, make sure that exposed cables are removed from the area before any painting begins. And for those of you that thought you could simply paint cables to match their surroundings, there is a better option. Belden offers several standard jacket colors for premise UTP cable—red, orange, yellow, blue, green, purple, white, gray and black. And feel free to contact us to discuss custom jacket colors to meet your unique needs.

 

Who is Erika Violet and What is She Doing in My Data Center?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACenturies before Sir Isaac Newton started studying color at the age of 23 in 1666, mankind used color as a means of identification.

Color remains the easiest way to identify, recognize and classify just about anything, and it has always been an integral part of our industry—from the colors of individual fibers to the outer jacket of a cable.

Despite what you may have heard or seen, there isn’t a new lady or a new type of optical fiber in town. But there is a new color—Erika Violet—and she has a lot to offer when it comes to identifying OM4 fiber in the data center.

History Repeating Itself Isn’t Always a Good Thing

Do you remember the orange 62.5? multimode fiber, otherwise known as OM1? When 50?m OM2 multimode fiber came on the scene, it too was orange.

When technicians see the same color cable in the same data center, it’s often assumed that they are of the same type. To truly differentiate, their only choice is to follow the cable back and carefully examine the tiny (sometimes illegible) cable legend or check their documentation. That’s precisely why the industry experienced countless issues with technicians inadvertently splicing orange OM1 to orange OM2.

One would think that we would have learned a thing or two since then. But when TIA/EIA approved the latest OM4 fiber in 2009, it remained the same color as its OM3 predecessor—Aqua.

So here we are with history repeating itself and technicians not having a way to easily differentiate between OM3 and OM4 fiber, especially when staring at the front of a panel where all the adapters look the same.

Enter Erika Violet (and Her Sister, Heather)

To solve the problem, the European market introduced a new violet color for OM4—known as Heather Violet in the UK and Erika Violet throughout much of mainland Europe. This new color has been accepted in Europe for nearly two years and adoption is on the rise.

Following the precedence set in Europe, several North American companies are now offering Erika Violet components as their new standard for OM4 fiber.

With Erika Violet cable, adapters and connector bodies now prominently displayed in pathways and at fiber panels, it’s easy to know for sure that it’s OM4. And even if fiber jumpers are color-coded per application, the connector body remains Erika Violet—mistakenly plugging in the wrong fiber jumper type is virtually impossible.

OM3OM4Why is She Really Here?

While they might look the same, OM4 fiber offers better performance than OM3. And just like we saw with orange OM1 and OM2 fiber, when OM3 and OM4 are inadvertently spliced or connected at panels, it can cause performance issues that are difficult to troubleshoot.

With today’s optical loss budgets being more of a concern than ever as we prepare for 40 and 100 Gig, using an OM3 connector when you meant to use OM4 can push your loss over the limit. Furthermore, mixing the two can cause a loss of bandwidth and result in an increased bit error rate (BER) on links.

Not everyone touching fiber in the data center these days would know to carefully look at the legend on the cable and understand what it means. But anyone can match color.

So those specifying or purchasing OM4 fiber for the data center would be wise to remember Erika Violet. In addition to still offering traditional Aqua for OM4, Belden is one of the first to now also offer its OM4 fiber cable and connectivity in Erika Violet. Just ask for her by name.

 

 

Get In The Zone

casinoSupported by both TIA commercial and data center standards, fiber zone cabling has been around for a while as a viable means for improving manageability, flexibility, scalability and security in a variety of applications—from the casino floor to the data center.

Let’s take another look at the practice of fiber zone cabling and its benefits, applications and considerations.

Active in the Horizontal

In the horizontal space, fiber zone cabling logically places connectivity to support a group of devices or work areas. Rather than deploying multiple long home-run copper cables from the closet to each device, active zones involve fewer runs of fiber from the closet to a switch in the zone and then shorter runs of copper that extend from the switch to each device.

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Where might we see this deployed? Think of an open office with various work areas or cubicles segregated by department or function, a casino floor with several zones or pods of slot machines, or even a stadium with point-of-sale (POS) machines in one area to support food and beverage vendors.

Read more »

It’s a Colorful World: From the Data Center to the Outlet

Since the beginning of mankind, color has always been the easiest way to identify, recognize and classify just about anything, and it has always been an integral part of our industry—from the colors of individual fibers and copper conductors, to the outer jacket of a cable and modular jacks.

Let’s take a look at how color today is improving performance, manageability and visibility from the data center to the outlet.

Erika Violet and Her Twin Sister Heather

ErikaViolet

By now you may have heard about or seen the new standard color for OM4 fiber—Erika Violet. Also known as Heather Violet in the UK, this bright pinkish color being used for OM4 cable, adapters and connectors isn’t just an attempt to jazz up the data center.

When OM4 fiber was first approved in 2009, it remained the same color as its OM3 predecessor—aqua. When technicians see the same color cables and connectors, they often assume they are the same type. To truly differentiate, their only choice is to follow the cable back and carefully examine the tiny (sometimes illegible) cable legend or check their documentation.

With today’s optical loss budgets being more of a concern than ever as we prepare for 40G duplex, using an OM3 channel when you meant to use OM4 can push your loss over the limit and cause loss of bandwidth on fiber links.

With Belden OM4 Erika Violet cable, adapters and connectors now prominently displayed in pathways and at fiber panels, mistakenly plugging in the wrong fiber type is virtually impossible.

An Easier Way to Segregate and Manage

Color doesn’t just help ensure performance. For decades, municipalities and jurisdictions having authority (JHAs) have specified unique cable colors for fire alarm and other life safety systems. With so many different systems now converging onto a single IP-based infrastructure and the same type of cabling, color has become more important than ever.

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In telecommunication spaces, segregating systems using color eases management at patch panels for IT staff. At the outlet, color can help ensure that the right equipment is plugged into the right jack. This is especially important for critical systems that support life and safety. TIA-1179 healthcare standards even recommend colored cables to segregate and identify various healthcare systems.

St. Francis Hospital in Columbus , Georgia recently took advantage of the 16 different color varieties available for Belden cable and modular jacks installed copper patch panels and workstation outlets to segregate healthcare systems and medical office tenants in their new 400,000 square foot expansion.

Read the St. Francis Hospital Case Study

And Provide Better Visibility Too

Color also determines how light is reflected, which is why many data centers are going with lighter cabinets and enclosures such as Belden’s X Series enclosures available in central office white and titanium FiberExpress Ultra HD housing.

With gray-white reflecting up to 80% of light and black only reflecting 5%, black cabinets and enclosures can make it more difficult for technicians to see. Lighter cabinets and enclosures reduce the need for more lighting and they don’t absorb as much heat. This has the potential to reduce lighting energy consumption and help keep equipment cool.

So whether you want to ensure that OM3 and OM4 fiber type are not inadvertently mixed, segregate various systems for easier management or improve visibility, don’t discount color when designing your data center and network infrastructure.

 

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