TIA-606-B: Are You Up on the Latest Labeling Standard?
An example of a simple label breakdown, from Dymo’s Al Feaster.
During CEDIA Expo 2012 I had the pleasure of talking to labeling guru Al Feaster of Dymo, who mentioned industry standards and what integrators need to know. The byproduct of following such standards also leads to an installation that is future-proof when it comes to troubleshooting or swapping gear down the road.
He brought up a recently published labeling standard of the Telecommunications Industry Association, TIA-606-B. While not mandatory, the standard creates base guidelines for record keeping, identification and labeling, in a very meticulous and pretty easy manner to follow - it reminds me of how some manufacturers create SKUs with the jumbled mix of letters and numbers in reality a roadmap that lets you know exactly what’s going on.
“A lot of integrators don’t know about the standards, so we try to help them understand them,” says Feaster, who notes that integrators can keep up on Dymo’s website with upcoming classes and trainings that also earn CEDIA and BICSI credits. “Our job is to help them understand what the standards say, so we can help them with their jobs. TIA-606-B is about how to label cables in a data center, equipment racks, patch panels, jacks.”
Feaster notes that TIA-606-B includes more identifiers than TIA-606-A did, now covering seven: TIA-606-A identifiers: TS, Horizontal Link, TMGB and TGB, plus new ones that cover cabinets, racks, enclosures and wall segments; patch panels or blocks; and cables between cabinets, racks, enclosures and wall segments.
Electrical manufacturer Hubbell breaks down other aspects of 606-B, including the record keeping and labeling details. The company notes that the standard calls for:
Requirements for Records: Drawings and documents must be backed-up and secured by the building administration; Moves, adds and changes (MAC’s) must be documented with a change order; MAC’s must be updated in the permanent records; and all identifier information must be cross-referenced in the permanent records.
Requirements for Labels: All labels must use a traceable, permanent identifier; each cable and pathway must be labeled on both ends; all labels shall meet UL969 legibility, defacement and adhesion requirements; station connections may be labeled on the face plate; and all jack, connector and block hardware can be labeled on the outlet or panel.
Feaster emphasizes that the adherence to 606-B will produce multiple benefits for both the integrator and the customer, whether in a residential or commercial setting:
—Faster, easier, lower-cost troubleshooting, maintenance and upgrades. The TIA-606-B labeling scheme lets end-users and contractors identify and trace cables, resolve problems, make moves/adds/changes (MACs) and upgrade equipment in less time, with less overhead.The larger the installation, the greater the time and cost savings.
—Greater assurance of warrantee protection. Increasingly, designers and end-users are specifying TIA-606-B compliant installation as part of their bid requirements.
—More flexibility and choice. Adhering to labeling standards creates consistency across large installations and multi-campus layouts, giving building owners the flexibility to work with different contractors over the life of the network.
He gives some examples of how your labels may appear, based on the new standard, again outlining this roadmap to readability.
For those whose wiring and labeling skills appeal to the meticulous, attention-to-detail, technical aspect of the job, TIA-606-B seems as though it will be like fitting together pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. For those whose design documents already include all of the relevant information that should be going along with their cabling, following 606-B should be a snap. At the very least, we’re bound to see even more “Neat-O!” rack installations in the future.