probably viewed as a simple process to manage, patch cords have the potential
to be the weakest link in twisted pair and fiber optic network infrastructures.
It is essential to follow correct procedures in administration of twisted pair
and fiber optic patch cords to achieve optimum performance and reliability.
Applying best practice at every stage will also minimize costs related to
moves, adds and changes (MACs).
practice in managing patch cords can be divided into four parts:
The Change Request
starting point for all MACs is the change request. The process for raising and
recording the request must be simple, efficient and rigidly enforced.
Fundamental to this is designing a plain, simple change request process.
the process is paper-based or electronic, such as using an Automated
Infrastructure Management (AIM) system, time spent on designing it to capture
all the necessary information and minimize risk errors is a good investment.
information includes: names of staff making and authorizing requests, date,
unique identifier number, services involved, work required and location of
Searching the Records
a request is received, search the records to be sure of the circuit path. Any
changes or additions made since your cabling infrastructure was installed
should also have been documented.
Check Design Guidelines and Match Cords
sure you know the specifications (i.e., Category 5, 5e, 6 or 6A) and design of
your cabling infrastructure, because the use of lower performing copper patch
cords will have the effect of limiting end-to-end performance. Maximum
end-to-end channel performance is only possible when the cord is matched to the
rest of the cabling link.
Routing, Patch Cord Lengths and Density
efficient routing and to establish the correct cord length, first find the best
route between the ports to be connected. This is usually the shortest route
through horizontal and vertical cable management that does not obstruct or
interfere with other cords and connectors in the panel. Avoid routing cords
through cable pathways that are already congested.
established the best route for the cord, find the minimum required length by
adding the horizontal and vertical distances. When selecting a cord, to make a
cross connection, avoid excessive slack and provide a neat appearance. Tight
cords will pull on connectors and too much slack complicates patch cord
management, making the panel harder to work on.
care not to mix up cords of different cabling categories. Patch cords may be
mechanically compatible across old and new cabling but, in any circuit, the
component with the lowest specifications will determine end-to-end performance.
For instance, when a Category 5e/Class D cord is used to connect Category
6/Class E cabling, the channel will only deliver Category 5e/Class D
performance in accordance with TIA and ISO/IEC standards.
CLICK TO TWEET:Managing patch cords can be divided into 4 parts. Read CommScope's blog to learn more.
minimize disconnect time, do as much preparation as possible before performing
administrative activities. Study administration records and locate the ports
that must be connected or reconnected. Ensure technicians have all the
information they need, including the labeling information for the ports
involved. An AIM system will automate much of this process, and alleviate
potential for human error.
is essential to ensure cords are of the right type and quality, and that they
are clean and in good condition especially when re-using patch cords. Patch cords
should be inspected for physical damage including:
marks from bending on the sheath
removed from the plug
contamination on plug end
or missing pins on plug end
work on a panel is started, it should be completed without delay using best
practice at each stage. Cord handling is important. Kinks, snags, pinches and
poor contacts can dramatically reduce the performance of a patch cord. The
following factors are important in avoiding these problems.
minimum bend radius specified by standards is four times the diameter of solid
conductor cable under no-load. Stranded conductor cords allow tighter radius.
Refer to manufacturer’s specifications. Anything less may change the relative
position of conductors to the point where transmission performance is reduced.
Cord Pulling and Stress
careful not to use excessive force during the patching process. This can stress
cords and connectors, reducing their performance. If you need to use force in pulling
a cord, something is wrong. Find the problem and fix it before proceeding.
and tying cords gives the panel a neat appearance but tight bundling increases
the risk of crosstalk. Take care not to tighten cable ties to the point where
individual cords cannot rotate freely with them. Use only products manufactured
for this purpose, and consider the use of products that can be re-used without
the use of tools such as “hook and loop” strapping.
Routing Cords Through Cable Pathways
the existing cord is the right length, it may be possible to re-use it when
re-routing a connection. If this is the case, remove the cord completely and
re-run it in through the cable pathways. This is the only way to ensure there
are no tangles, kinks or strains. Any unused cords and jumper wires should
always be carefully removed from patch panels.
Final Visual Inspection and Panel Closure
must be right first time since mistakes can cause costly disruption and
re-work. The time taken to make a final visual check of connections is a good
investment. When patch panels are mounted in enclosures, ensure these are
securely closed and, where necessary, locked, making sure that cord slack is
not snagged or pinched by the doors.
final step is to update the documentation to the as-built configuration and
close the work order associated with the completed change request. Using an AIM
system will automate much of this activity and aid the patching process.
you are looking for a free course, the CommScope Infrastructure Academy offers
the Best Practice for
Patch Cord Management (WR9301) course. It is a free instructional video that
looks at the best practices and recommendations for planning, preparing
connections in network infrastructure.