In the building industry, there are several ways of managing cables, they each have pros and cons, but one method stands out as a great choice in many applications. Let's discuss those options a bit!
Despite the trend of the past decade of moving towards wireless communications, the wired industry has actually grown. Many organizations (especially government, military, financial and high-tech) ban wireless transmission of critical data within their compounds. And small and medium businesses also understand that wired communications, while perhaps less "flexible" than wireless, offer greater security, especially in the physical layer.
In addition to data transmission, power transmission remains steadfastly wired. With all the equipment and gadgets we use in an office each day, getting that power to the user is critical.
There are several methods of building cable management. each has its pros and cons. There is no single method which wins out each and every time. We may be a bit biased, because we feel low profile access flooring is almost always the best choice, but we hope we can help educate you, our customer, on the different methods of cable management so you can make the decision that is best for you and your building.
A Video Comparing Different Ways To Hide and Manage Wires and Cables
Often used in single-story buildings, concrete trenching involves creating trenches in the concrete subfloor and running cable and conduit through the trenches. In new buildings, the trenches are sometimes formed during the concrete pour, but most times are not. If the trenches aren't integral into the concrete subfloor, they must be cut. Yes, cut with a loud, dirty and potentially dangerous concrete saw.
Once the trenches are in place and the cable run, floor boxes can be installed at the desired location. And to finish it off, concrete is often poured to fill in the trench once the electrical system is in place.
With concrete trenching, not only is the cost of the trencing itself a consideration, more structural engineering work must be performed to ensure proper strength of the floor after huge sections of concrete (trenches) are removed. This is especially important with multi-story buildings. Cable trenching is a tried and true method of cable management. We aren't compeletely discounting it as it has its place; we just feel there is a better way for many applications.
Another point to consider with concrete drilling and trenching, especially for existing buildings, is that the existing holes must be patch first. Picture a multi-story building that's 10 years old. A client on floor 9 needs to reconfigure their space. If they choose concrete trenching, they will first have to patch existing holes in the concrete before drilling new holes and cutting new trenches. That adds time for project completion, and most projects like this must be completed on an very fast timeline.
Typically used in multi-story buildings, electrical conduit is run in the ceiling beneath the floor it serves above. For example, the wiring for floor 8 actually runs in the ceiling of floor 7. Holes for the conduit penetrations are cut in the concrete and space is made for electrical boxes and outlets.
A concrete saw and/or coring drill are still needed.
Floor decking is concrete trenching's little brother. There is much less cutting and sawing of concrete, with the cuts being limited to the holes where cables will penetrate from the floor below to the floor above. The biggest drawback to using floor decking as your cable management method is that any time you need to add, remove or reroute cables, you will create an enormous disruption. Due to the nature of the design, there will be 2 floors of a building involved in any cable change. The lower floor will need sections closed off with workers relocated. Both floors will be exposed to noise, dust and vibrations. Again, this method is "just how it's done" a lot of the times. We believe there is a better way to manage cables in a building.
Used in both single-story and multi-story buildings, overhead cabling is a flexible method of cable management. Utilizing the overhead space, whether an exposed ceiling or a dropped ceiling, conduit and cables are run suspended from the ceiling, with cable drops down to the work area. Cable drops typically use poles or chaseways to conceal and route the cable.
Overhead cable management is a good choice, because it usually eliminates the amount of cutting through concrete. The downside, however, is that besides the additional support structure involved, it is somewhat cumbersome to add, remove or reroute cables. Technicians will need a ladder. That ladder will need to be repositioned every few feet as they move down the line, changing cables. The other drawback is that while the main cable trunks are above the ceiling, out of the way, you still need a way to get those cables down into the workspace. This means you will need cable drops, which, besides an added cost, are unsightly and just don't fit in to the modern office space.
Underfloor Cable Management uses access flooring as a method of routing and concealing cables. The access floor comes in many heights and varieties. The cables may be routed under the flooring, or in the case of low profile access flooring, the cables are routed within the floor itself.
We don't think underfloor cable management is the best method because we happen to manufacture it: we chose to manufacture it because we feel it is the best method of cable management. With a low profile, cable management access floor, there is no cutting or sawing of concrete. There are no holes to be cut in the concrete. You don't need to get to the floor below to change cables on the floor above. There is minimal downtime and work interruption if you ever have to reconfigure your cable layout.
Unlike overhead cable management, there are no cable drops to contend with. The wires and cables are safely run under the floor, and can be routed up into your furniture, fixtures and workspaces without being seen. The installation time for a low profile floor is faster than any method mentioned above. Low profile, cable management floor is a superb choice for most applications.
As you can see, there are many ways of handling cable management, but they each have their pros and cons. Of course, since we manufacture, sell and install access floor, we feel that access floor, especially low profile floor, is the best choice for nearly every application. But it's more than that: we truly believe in our products and the huge benefits they bring to our customers. We'd love to hear from you, and talk about how we can help.Access Floor, Cable Management