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Is Inefficient Fiber Data Management Emptying Your Pockets?

Your fiber data management and collection methods need to change

The demand for fiber is at an all-time high. Be it telecoms, utilities or municipalities, everybody needs fiber data for medical, educational or telecommunications purposes. But, the picture is not rosy in the current scenario of fiber design. Challenges remain with the traditional data collection tools that make use of paper, clips and wheel methods. Therefore, adapting changing technologies and implementing newer and efficient methods is the need of the hour.

Kurt Delia, Engineering Manager SE at Cyient, discussed some of the challenges faced by engineering firms and suppliers when it comes to fiber design with these methods of data collection. These have been cataloged by Cyient in a webinar Efficient FTTX Design Solutions.

Fiber Design: Today’s Challenges

With the amount of fiber being placed to meet the ever-growing demand, there is a fierce competition, not only between the service providers but, also among the engineering suppliers. In this competitive market, the ability to track Outside Plant (OSP) engineering talent is also one of the difficult challenges.

When utilizing the traditional data collection methods like paper, clipboard and wheel in the field, the ability of an organization to meet the goals of quality, on-time delivery and profitability using the available staff becomes extremely difficult.

Kurt urges us to take a look at the amount of time it takes to collect data from field notes on a 20-mile fiber project. He points outfield staff will take anywhere from 7 to 14 days. And this is also when weather conditions are perfect, because, you know, people can’t write on paper in the rain!

With aggressive delivery schedules and rapid deployments happening on the ground, using the traditional approach would mean missed design dates and confusions from project kick-off to the end.

Kurt further talks about the inefficiencies the telecom service providers are facing by deploying these methods, along with the challenges from the human resources front.

Inefficiencies in today’s processes

Human error factors

These are most evident in the paper method. All the information collected in the field for validation and design must be properly scanned and e-mailed. There’s a lot of paper shuffling here. And any missing papers would mean a second field trip. Even if all the documents are in place, there is still scope for confusion in the design phase when hand-written field inspections notes need to be interpreted. If the field notes are not drawn to perfection, there will be chaos in the design process. For example, a pole drawn on the field notes may be out of line. This will lead to many questions. Is there is an error in measurement? Is the pole on an incline? Has it been drawn there by mistake? Not only is the method inefficient, it also leads to a lot of time wastage.

Missing measurement scenario

If the running line measurement is missed on the field data collection notes, what do we do? Visit the field again! These second visits mean lost time, project delays and increased costs. And if these things are noticed during the construction phase, instead of during the design phase, we would be looking at cable shortages, construction delays, engineering rework, construction rework, et al. All this would prove very costly to every stakeholder involved.

Let the CAD drafter interpret

The paper method also requires that the designer and the drafter, who are implementing the field notes in CAD, draw their own interpretations. They need to comprehend the handwriting and understand the measurements. This leaves a huge scope for error.

Human resource challenge

Many service providers and engineering firms depend on the retired workforce from The Bell System for their design work. And let’s admit it. The training those people received decades ago doesn’t stand a chance with today’s technology. It’s safe to assume that most a major chunk of design staff requires new skills and training.

So, how do you turn these inefficiencies into a proficient FTTX engineering system? How to get data right in the first place. How to effectively deploy the latest geospatial technologies related to field data collection. Want to understand more? Watch this webinar Efficient FTTX Design Solutions.