Containment is such an important issue that I felt the need last year to author a whitepaper to highlight this, and I am now writing about it here again to express my concerns. There is a great deal of naivety when it comes to the impact of getting Containment wrong. It is an issue that can affect performance, timescales and cost.
What many people don’t realise about Containment is this: If you get it wrong, it can have a detrimental impact on the performance of the cabling. This can be a critical issue. I’ve experienced this first-hand on a number of occasions when the wrong Containment was installed, and I’ve then witnessed the panic that then ensued.
- 18 months ago a leading building consultancy had to change the specification of the 3 compartment trunking after the project had started due to confusion between Cat6 and Cat6A by the client. This caused a significant delay whilst the problem was rectified.
- Poor containment design also affected a project that suffered flood damage. After two major floods (which many had predicted), 2000 or so cables had to be replaced. Not realising the root of the problem, even more cables were installed. A great deal of trouble and money could have been saved if the original Containment had been designed slightly differently, simply by raising it off the floor by a further few inches.
When the wrong size of Containment is installed, weight becomes an issue. The standards stipulate that you should stack cables up to 150ml deep. With the wrong Containment, you have to try to stack the cables deeper. This puts pressure on the data cables at the bottom, which changes their performance characteristics. And if one cable is on the bottom all the way through, it is going to get crushed.
The issue of Containment has a huge potential impact on the performance of a system. However what gets specified and installed is usually outside the control of the cabling installer. It will most likely be in the Building Service Engineers’ package, who (unless instructed differently) will just install what they always have.
As Cat6A cabling is becoming more and more prevalent, the correct selection of Containment is even more critical than ever before. Unfortunately it is an area that tends to revolve around costs. Within a Design and Build (D&B) project, cost is almost the number one factor. However the cabling installers are expected to provide a compliant system that is going to support the client for the duration of the 25 year warranty, which isn’t always the cheapest option.
The fact that the same Containment is not always going to work on each and every project isn’t highlighted enough either. Inadequate (or the wrong style of Containment) causes a cascade of problems that can far outweigh saving a few pounds on the cost of the containment. At the extreme end it could mean a cabling system that cost thousands of pounds is simply not ‘fit for purpose’ – Containment is a crucial factor to consider.
For more information, please read my whitepaper The New Critical Factor – Containment available from the Excel Networking website