Q&A Advice From Jeremy Hodge to Facilities Managers

Croners Facilities Management speak to Dr Jeremy Hodge about what facility managers should be aware of when handling and specifying cable in buildings.

Cable identification and tracking still seems to be a major headache for facilities management. Is this still a fair statement, or do you think the industry now offers usable systems to help facilities managers in this area?

A: While there are many good systems available now, using colour codes, barcodes, RFIDs and other tagging mechanisms coupled with databases, or even automatic position logging systems, there are numerous legacy systems in place which cause facilities managers significant headaches.  For usability, a readable reference number is always required.

Can you outline the current state of the cable labelling and tracking industry? Can you identify any trends at the moment?

A: For high intensity installations such as data centres where connections are constantly being remade, automatic systems of tracking and logging connections will become standard.  For most end users this is not needed, and a visual marking system is probably sufficient.

The clash of legacy cabling and new installations is often a flashpoint for facilities managers. What key advice would you give to them that will help better manage their systems?

A: Get a good system that works for them and stick with it as each new generation of equipment comes in.  Don’t necessarily put in a new system every time there is a major upgrade.

With so many cable platforms within any given building each with their own unique properties and maintenance requirements, do you think we can develop an integrated approach to cable management?

A: Technical development in data and telecoms cabling is continuing apace, but more and more systems such as telephones and security are becoming IP based, leading to the possibility of a more integrated approach.  The main message would be to make sure old systems are removed when no longer in use.

Cabling and wiring around offices can be a headache for many facilities managers. What are the principles that should guide a facilities manager when they are specifying new cabling for a network?

A: Although modern buildings are designed with cabling needs in mind, many organisations still occupy legacy buildings where routing of cables is a problem.  Facilities managers should check possible routes and choose a system, perhaps including wireless for certain areas, that matches the building.  Remove old cables wherever possible.  Fire risk assessment is a key issue, now the responsibility of building operators, so look out for the new BS 8492:2009 standard on cabling systems and fire safety, which provides a wealth of guidance.

There seems to be a push to use more wireless networking to facilitate flexible working that all companies want to embrace. But can a wireless network offer a facility the networking platform it needs, or should businesses look at a hybrid wireless/wired network for their infrastructure?

A: Wireless networks have improved significantly in performance and reliability over recent years, and consequently companies and users have come to accept them as normal for email and related applications.  However, there remain concerns about bandwidth limits as user needs for live two-way video streaming applications continue to increase.  Fibre-based systems may be needed in some cases.  Hybrid wired / wireless systems may be the best solution for many users.

Industry wide do you think we have cabling standards that can deliver the requirements of facilities managers when they are designing new or modifying existing cable installations?

A: There are many standards defining components, systems, design, installation and commissioning for cabling systems.  While some of these are beginning to look aged, they are under constant review and facilities managers should be encouraged to specify them wherever possible.

What do you think the future of cable management and tracking looks like?

A: More automatic position logging based on RFIDs, associated live databases and easy visualisation for monitoring.  Tracking technology based on live working (without breaking connections) will be more important.

Further information about BASEC and advice on faulty cables is available at or you can contact BASEC directly on 01908 267300


Go back