Siemens: New cabling infrastructure that integrates all applications
Moving offices often creates an opportunity to replace obsolete equipment with modern technology.
This has proven to be the case for Siemens Power Generation (PG). While moving the Siemen's PG office in Offenbach, Germany they decided to change to a Class F cabling solution from Siemon. In autumn 2004 all 850 employees at Siemens PG (a Siemens subsidiary that is specialized in the projecting and planning of power plants) moved from their old offices into the recently completed "Main Office Centre", a highly complex and modern office building. The new five-floor building, with an office space of about 24,000sqm, was built by Hochtief AG and belongs to the DEKA Group.
The decision to move into the Main Office Centre was made early into the offices' construction work. As a result Siemens was able to significantly influence the choice of cabling infrastructure for their new offices and therefore today's cabling system exactly meets the requirements of the energy specialist. Siemens weren't interested in a medium-term solution: "We need a cabling infrastructure that supports multimedia applications", says Horst Gaubartz, the person responsible for the office relocation. Because copper was the choice for the horizontal cabling due to costs, Siemens only considered a Class F cabling solution. "Voice as well as data and other applications can run over Class F cabling", says Gaubartz. Moreover, a certified, standards compliant Class F cabling system ensures that users, if necessary, can send and receive data using 10GBit/s.
Siemens decided on the TERA™ solution from the American manufacturer Siemon. "Siemon's TERA™ system (a shielded standards compliant Class F TERA end-to-end solution) opens up opportunities to plan far into the future", Gaubartz stresses. The fully shielded solution perfectly protects from alien crosstalk of adjacent pairs.
"The cabling system supports 1200MHz - nearly double the bandwidth as originally defined for Class F cabling. It even supports broadband TV (CATV) over one pair, whilst the remaining three pairs are available for other applications", explains Peter Breuer, Regional Director Central EMEA at Siemon.
Flexibility through Plug-Sharing
Another advantage for the customer is plug-sharing. "Every link can be used for various applications" explains Gaubartz. For example, we can connect four phone lines each using one pair, but we can also patch two phones and use the other two pairs for 10 or 100 Mbit/s over Ethernet." Only if a user requires 1 or 10 GBit/s bandwidth then all 4 pair will be in use, leaving no room for other applications.
The outlets are installed in floor boxes protected by a cover and connected to the terminal devices through patch cords. There are six floor boxes in every 50sqm of office space, providing a sufficient number of connections to cover the requirements of the whole office.
Due to the flexibility the cabling provides, Siemens PG Offenbach was able to convert from analogue telephony to Voice over IP. "In this way we don't require separate phone lines", says Gaubartz. All 850 desks are now equipped with VoIP. In addition to the usual office applications and the telephony, there are further applications that run over the cabling infrastructure: around five per cent of the employees work with CAD applications generating large files. Also, the entry control system and the tills in the canteen are connected - no problem for the TERA™ system.
20 years warranty and personalised services
Siemens PG are pleased with the long-term warranty Siemon provides. "The system warranty covers 20 years" explains Gaubartz. It also covers Siemon patch cords in addition to functionality and applications. Stefan Brand, Siemon Account Manager, is Siemen's central point of contact in the event of problems. Based in the German offices of Siemon in Frankfurt, just around the corner from Siemens, he will be able to provide support instantly.
So far Siemens haven't required help. One of the reasons for this is the carefully installed system and the certification of the whole infrastructure. Eight installers from the specialist installer Elektro Klein AG of nearby Bibergmünd carried out the installation work. Elektro Klein AG is one of 20 Siemon Certified Installers in Germany.
"It is very important for us that our partners receive the necessary training before they start work at the end-user's site" emphasizes Peter Breuer. To become a Siemon Certified Installer, potential partners have to send at least two of their employees on a weeklong training course on design and network implementation with Siemon.
The network installed at Siemens PG comprises around 320 kilometres of copper cable installed all the way through in access floors. The access floors are connected through Cisco switches in ten telecommunication rooms supplying all floors. Two equipment rooms and a fibre backbone form the heart of the cabling infrastructure. Fibre also connects the equipment and telecommunication rooms.
The set up and testing of all connections required about two months out of the total 18months it took to build the new offices. A fair amount of that time was dedicated to the certification of single links, because each Permanent Link must be tested separately. "Certification is part of our warranty", says Stefan Brand. The Permanent Links have to meet the criteria defined for Class F. After the certification process the customer can be sure that the cabling infrastructure meets all requirements for the next 20 years.
So far Horst Gaubartz is very pleased with the result: "Since the implementation in October 2004 we have not had any problems". He will now start to source original patch cords from Siemon only. "Siemon Patch cords are much more reliable during heavy use" he emphasizes. Other patch cords have often showed intermediate contact problems when plugged in and out frequently, just like with laptops. It is very annoying if exactly this creates problems during a training presentation, for example". For this reason he only uses Siemon patch cords.
Gaubartz feels confident with Siemon as the supplier for further investments into their office infrastructure. "It is very likely that we will think about upgrading the network to 10GBit/s in a few years", Gaubartz says thinking about the future of the new office. "Thanks to TERA we can realise this without having to install new cabling".