Is Pride In Workmanship Too Old-Fashioned?

By James Carlini | Jul 15, 2018
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When was the last time you saw a really well-built electrical installation where all of the wires were neatly placed and the cabling was clearly tagged with routing documentation as well as wrapped with cable ties in cable trays so they could be easily maintained?

When was the last time you saw a poorly installed cabling system with dangling cables, loose wires, no documentation and abandoned cabling? Chances are you saw a poor installation many more times than you saw one installed the way it should have been. Why is that?

Are there any craftsmen taking pride in their work anymore? Of course there are. Are you? Are your workers taking pride in their installations (both low-voltage and high-voltage)? Or, have they adopted an attitude like some of the carpenters you see rushing the job and not adhering to quality standards?

“We ain’t building a Steinway here!” can be heard by the foreman as he tells his crew of carpenters to hurry up and not be worried about finishing touches or perfectly-angled cuts. “It’s good enough.”

It is interesting to see people post pictures of well-built cabling installations on the internet as if they just saw a dinosaur or some extinct species and they wanted to take a picture of it to document its existence to the rest of the world.

Good installations should not be the rare exception. They should be the rule.

Today, all corporations depend too much on communications-based information technology networks as well as the redundant electrical systems that power them. A bad installation will only become a constant maintenance nightmare when changes need to be made to upgrade the configurations and no one knows where all of the cables terminate or what they are supporting within the building. It will also become a black hole for expenses and time wasted.

It’s time to be clearly aware of how important a clean, well-documented cabling installation is to the overall operation of a company or a data center supporting that company. The ease of maintenance as well as the speed of maintenance is important in mission-critical environments. And forget about the old adage, “Time is money.” Time is not money. Time cannot be replaced; money can. If you are experiencing a lot of downtime, that time cannot be replaced. If you are in some industry that requires an almost 100-percent uptime like banking and financial services, you cannot afford to have bad installations that take hours to figure out before you can apply a fix to them.

Data centers and co-location centers require a perfect environment

More companies are going to co-located data centers and shared backup centers as more of their applications become mission-critical. Costs can be shared, and much more well-equipped facilities can be had. It has become a big business where one shared data center can cost $500,000,000 to build.

When an application is deemed mission-critical, everything supporting that application needs to be fully redundant. There are no single points of failure within a mission-critical application. The design specs for mission-critical applications are more complex and more expensive.

Mission-critical applications are on the rise. We are seeing one out of three mission-critical applications in corporations rising to one out of every two applications as we near 2020 and 5G networks.

Many companies are scrambling to catch up to what will be needed in intelligent infrastructure for supporting all their applications. This creates an important time for electrical contractors to provide a high-quality service that is immune to becoming a shoddy commodity—earning an “anyone can put this in” customer attitude.

The bottom line is good installations are easier and cheaper to maintain. With everything clearly documented, repairs and upgrades go faster, less labor costs are run up for modifications, and any downtime required to update the system is minimalized.

Cheap, fast or good—pick two

Is this the question you pose to your customers? If that is the case, you need not come and apply to be a contractor for me—or many other companies looking at building out installations for clients needing a high-quality installation to support mission-critical applications.

Quality upfront in the installation may cost something extra, but it is only a small fraction of the overall cost compared to when a bad installation needs to be maintained across the lifespan of the system. Ongoing maintenance costs soon outweigh the initial installation costs.

About The Author

James Carlini, MBA, is a strategist for mission-critical networks, technology and intelligent infrastructure. He has been the president of Carlini & Associates since 1986. He is author of "LOCATION LOCATION CONNECTIVITY," a visionary book on the convergence of next-generation real estate, intelligent infrastructure, technology, and the global platform for commerce.

His “Platform for Commerce” definition of infrastructure and its impact on economic growth has also been referred to by the US ARMY Corps of Engineers in their Handbook, “Infrastructure and the Operational Art.” (2014)

His firm has been involved with applying advanced business practices, planning and designing mission critical network infrastructures for three decades.

He served as an award-winning adjunct faculty member at Northwestern University’s Executive Masters and undergraduate programs for two decades (1986-2006).  He has been the keynote speaker at national and international conferences.

He also appears in civil and federal courts as well as public utilities commission hearings as an expert witness in mission critical networks, network infrastructure and cabling issues.

He began his career at Bell Telephone Laboratories (real-time software engineering), AT&T (technical marketing & enterprise-wide network design support for major clients) and Arthur Young (now Ernst & Young, Director of Telecommunications & Computer Hardware consulting).

Contact him at [email protected] or 773-370-1888. Follow daily Carlini-isms at





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