In Cable

Source: Belden CDT Posted by Steve Lampen

They did some studies a while back about the cost (in dollars and in labor) for various parts of a data network install.

First they found that the cost of the wire and cable amounted to only 3% of the cost of an install. On the other hand, the wire and cable accounted for 70% of the labor. Now this begs the question, can you buy cable that takes less time to install? You know the answer! You’ve put in that OTHER cable. The stuff that was super-cheap and looked OK, or maybe it’s all you had available on the shop floor. And when the install time started to stretch out to days or weeks more than you had allocated, you know what you did wrong. Funny thing is your boss patted you on the back for all that money you saved him when you bought the cable. Bet you didn’t mention how much it cost him to install it. And what if the cable doesn’t work? Then you’re pulling it out and reinstalling it. Now how much money did you save?

Of course, if someone came to you and said, this cable is twice as fast to install, but costs twice as much, you will probably shake the salesman’s hand and send him on his way. But, wait a minute, twice as expensive means 6% of the install. And half the labor is 35% savings. This would be a huge WIN for everyone. If they actually looked at the big picture cost of the install, they would erect a gold statue to you in the parking lot.

And this is one of the secrets about Belden. We’re not cheap. Oh, we do sometimes try and compete in the marketplace. But many designers, installers or system integrators know that cheap cable only gets you a headache. I’m not saying ignore the price of the cable. I’m saying put it in perspective. Look at the big picture. And if you’re in new territory, doing something you’ve never done before, then ask for a sample. We give away samples all the time. We have a Sample Room for Belden in Richmond, Indiana which stocks thousands of different part numbers. Now it doesn’t have every part number. (We make over 6000 different kinds of wire and cable.) But we do typically have the most popular codes.

If you call Belden Customer Service, they will send you three feet of anything we have in the Sample Room. If you want a longer piece, to do some testing for instance, then you would need to move up the food chain. If it’s audio or video cable (or networking or broadband), you might end up with me. My email address is below. We have Product Line Managers for everything we make. We have Engineers who design them, and Specialists in the field (and in the factory) that you could talk to. All we need is a good reason.

Now, even I have a limit. If you pass 1,000 ft. I definitely have to talk to some other folks (to get opinions and permission), But if you have a good reason, it could easily happen. Once, I sent a customer 25,000 feet of cable for free. Yup! He had a very good reason. He had made some boxes that claimed to send professional quality analog video (that dates it right there!) down 5 miles of Category 5 cable. All the work they had done was on short lengths and they really wanted to test a real five miles of cable.

So we sent them five miles of cable. In this case, we sent them every short reel that we couldn’t sell. You know, that 350 ft. length at the end of the run, sometimes called a short length or short end. It’s perfectly good cable, just not our standard length. We save those for just such things. So the customer put on RJ-45?s by the hundreds and connected them all together. Couldn’t be more of a real world test than that! They laid out the cable on a racetrack in Ohio. Worked great! Of course, our payback was the mention that the only cable that had actually tested was ours. I’m sure we sold millions of feet of Category 5 because of this one test.

And then there was the time I sent someone 60,000 feet of cable for free. (my current record of free cable) It was NAB about fifteen years ago or so. The NAB folks had decided to build a real operational TV station in the back of the central hall. Do you remember this? It did all the interviews and fed the cable systems of the local hotels, even has a satellite channel. All the gear was loaned or borrowed and was integrated by Sony SID (now sadly gone). They were new on the scene, so this was as much an advertisement for the quality of their work. In fact, the back of the racks were Plexiglas doors, with lights inside the cabinets. You could see all the beautiful cable. We even had Velcro(TM) cable ties made with the Belden logo, so it was pretty obvious who made the cable. That 60,000 ft. was the best advertising money I ever spent for Belden.

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