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
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 don’t have extra fibers for
specifications you don’t 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
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; it’s a recipe
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.
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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