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What Your Contractor Should Know About Cable Assemblies
Getting the right contractor for your property’s cable assemblies should be part of a larger goal: creating a team of trustworthy vendors who have your property and their business in mind.
Getting the “best deal” on a project and making simple cost the only measure is a good way to get a bare minimum job, one requiring twice the money to fix when prospective tenants inspect a space. One property owner recently bid for ethernet and power cabling throughout a space. One general office property accepted a contractor’s bid a fraction of other vendors. The first tenant inspecting the space for a long-term lease pointed out error after inadequacy. The wrong cable types, insufficient shielding between power and data in cable assemblies, incorrect connectors and power outlets, and even incorrect circuit capacities and breaker placements meant the entire process, this time completed by a professional, was required. Plus the cost of tearing out the first contractor’s work.
For a medical office building the risks, costs, and benefits of choosing the right contractor are far greater. There are a few traits to look for before signing up a vendor. Measure twice, sign once. Because the second contractor hired will have to undo or correct the work of the first.
Let’s start with the obvious: licensing. For electrical components of a cable assembly, such as data and power drops into a suite of examination or treatment rooms, ensure there’s a licensed electrician available to the vendor. If they have one, it reduces your onus of responsibility to find and ride herd on one. Unlike spec office buildings, the power requirements may vary not only by the number of drops, but also by phases of power required, and panels… as much as this assessment is part of planning before building begins, having a signed vendor involved in the process ensures everyone is clear on property owner as well as future tenant needs.
Contractors need to be flexible. If they only represent and are “certified” by one cable assembly manufacturer, they’re going to use their hammer on nails, screws, and everything else. For example, a given manufacturer might not have the power and data assemblies needed for an MRI machine suite. Their solution might be more expensive, or barely in spec for the requirements. A better contractor choice is one with certifications from multiple manufacturers. They’ll know how to plan, install, and connect cable assemblies and have backup from the manufacturers if any questions crop up in the process.
We all have favorites. Favorite coffee shops, dry cleaners, hardware supply stores. Many electrical or electronic contractors work through a single distributor to source their parts. They get volume pricing, and they can wheedle when necessary to get assemblies delivered more quickly. Distributors, in turn, have pull with manufacturers, translating into a better chance of a custom-designed cable assembly being made for a build-out. In the end, a contractor with good connections with multiple distributors is better than one dependent on a single source.
Don’t assume a contractor who has installed cabling assemblies at a spec building will be right for you. Ask about their special cases. Have they ever done a medical office buildout with non-standard power needs? Have they worked with a cable assembly manufacturer to get a custom part or entire assembly?
Lastly and most importantly, a contractor for a medical office building should be up on expected future needs. Copper network cabling will more and more move to fiber optics for high-bandwidth equipment. 3D and real-time imaging generate prodigious amounts of data. Wireless trends will impact cable assembly requirements as well. Does the contractor know, or at least understand, what’s on the horizon? How well does the contractor know about the medical industry’s trends and future needs? Their answers will be expressed directly in buildout costs, as well as “future-proofing” the building’s capacity for technology change.
LoDan is the easy choice for cable assemblies.