Topic: Planning a Fiber Optic Installation Table of Contents: The FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optics

Planning a Fiber Optic Installation

    Planning the job is the first task of any installation. Proper planning is important to ensure the job is installed properly, on time and meets cost objectives.
    We assume you have a finished design for the project, know where and how everything will be installed and have any special requirements like permits ready. We can also assume you have a completion date, hopefully a reasonable one, to work toward. The installation process has many steps, so we have created an Installation Checklist to help you plan the installation.

    The first step is to create a schedule which will be the centerpiece of the planning process. In order to schedule a job, you need a lot of information, much of which can be acquired from estimates you did when bidding the job. When buyers price the components to be used on a job, they should get delivery times as well as prices. Some items used on fiber optic projects should be stock items, like connectors, patch panels or splice closures. Cables, however, may have to be made to order.

    Many fiber optic cables are custom items, depending on the cable type, number and types of fibers and color coding. Custom cables will often be less expensive because they donít have extra fibers for specifications you donít need, for example, but they will have longer lead times since they must be made from scratch. Whenever specifying a fiber optic cable, always try to have a few extra fibers available, just in case fibers are damaged during installation.

    The astute contractor tries to always use the same types of components on every job so they are familiar with not only the installation procedures but the typical costs, yield (i.e. number of connectors or splices that will pass testing first time) and any problems likely to be encountered.

getting trained

    If any components or tools are not familiar to the installers, they need to learn how to use and/or install them correctly, either by experimenting in the office on off-time, getting manufacturers to train them or attending a training course. The need for training may also arise if new equipment types are required, such as outside plant cable placing tools, splicers or new types of test equipment. The cardinal rule of installation is never take an unfamiliar component or tool on the job; itís a recipe for disaster.

    Buyers need to order the components when the job is acquired, scheduling delivery to the job site either to have everything available before the installation begins, or on a large job with an extended schedule, according to how long the installation of that component will take. Here you also need to plan on where the components will be delivered to, either a staging area in your warehouse, for example, or to the job site.

    Components delivered to the job site may require security. Theft can be a problem with cable particularly, since many thieves think all cables contain copper and the price of copper is still high, both erroneous! But vandalism is another concern, requiring components be either locked up or if too large to put indoors like large spools of cable or fiber optic innerduct, may require on site overnight guards.

    Next, one needs to schedule labor. Again, the estimates should tell you how many installers of what experience will be needed and how long they are expected to need to complete the installation. If any training is needed, additional time may need to be added to the schedule.

    Having covered labor and materials in the schedule, the planning is almost done. Review the schedule with everyone involved to get them on board and start the processes, beginning with acquiring materials. Then add to the plan a review of safety rules for supervisors, installers and anyone expected to be on site. Also add notes to keep all scrap cable, connectors, etc. to package and present to the user in case they are needed for future restoration.

    If the start date is not tomorrow (because the customer wanted it yesterday!) and you have other projects in the interim, pull out this schedule regularly to check if everything is on schedule for the start date to prevent any last minute surprises.

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Table of Contents: The FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optics

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