Fiber Optic Cabinets, Cables, Pedestals and Terminals

When I started my job as a Field Technician at Clearfield, I heard rumblings about how there are fewer and fewer of the seasoned guys in the field – splicing, installing and just plain knowing the ins and outs of a fiber network build. Talk around the office was that, with fewer skilled technicians out there, we (Clearfield) had designed products that would make it easier for “newbies” such as myself and other young field installers to quickly become competent with fiber networks, ultimately allowing service providers to quickly and cost effectively turn up their networks and their customers.

I was entering the world of fiber optics a complete novice, ready to receive a crash course in fiber and real world deployments. The expectation was that I was to go from an inexperienced new hire to a capable fiber optic field technician in short order – a seemingly daunting task. However, whether in the field or at my desk, I soon realized that I had the advantage of learning the industry from the perspective of a Clearfield employee; one who has access to intuitive, simplistic and modular products (among the best available for their respective applications) and some of the most capable Application Engineers in the industry. As my understanding of the broad scope of fiber optic networks grew, alongside my knowledge of Clearfield products, I began to see how Clearfield solutions make deployments easier and more effective – and being in the field, walking in the shoes of our customers…what they will experience as well.

Initial Impressions: Changing minds one product at a time

I began my field training with a trip to Ohio, spending a few days with a crew of splicers and witnessing firsthand what the day-to-day work of an experienced fiber technician looks like. They were funny guys, certainly not afraid to make jokes at each other’s expense (in fact they seemed eager to take the opportunity to do so), but they were also quick and effective – my kind of guys. They took the time to explain to me what they were doing, the methodology behind their actions and doled out many small tips as they went along, undoubtedly picked up over their combined 40+ years of experience. The overriding theme tying many of their comments together was their aversion for the new and unfamiliar, things which shake up the cadence and work flow they have so carefully cultivated for their entire careers. Look at it from their perspective – they know their job, and they know it well. They show up to work and work quickly to do what they’ve done a million times before. Throw a curve ball in there and you’re messing with that system.

You could imagine my surprise on our final day together when, despite being somewhat new to the Clearview Blue Cassette, they had very positive things to say! You see, they had just begun using our Clearview Blue in the past year, and initially experienced the begrudging acceptance that sometimes comes when forced into something new. Learning a new product, with a different splice tray and cable entrance method? What was wrong with the old one? But as their bosses insisted and the days passed, experimentation and practice quickly led to expertise and familiarity with the product…and a negative mindset towards change to be circumvented. They explained, telling me how they had come to the realization that the Clearview Blue allowed them to do everything they were doing in the past with traditional splice trays, but now they had the same platform in multiple points throughout the network, one which is flexible enough to meet the requirements of almost any task, and allowed them to work quickly and keep their finished product neat and in an ideal condition for later testing, troubleshooting and repair.

In short order, I found myself traveling to different job sites around the country and began to experience some of the things the splicers had told me first hand. I came to notice just how fluid our solutions could be – changing to meet the requirements of each specific network and consistently exceeding expectations set by our customers with respect to installation time, costs and space savings. The simplicity and configurability of products have made deploying fiber to an entire neighborhood a manageable task with just a small crew. Our PON cabinets and splitter routing system make hooking up a customer a breeze. Our on-frame jumper management solutions keep the data center organized in what is often times a chaotic environment.

Customer Experience Speaks Volumes for Product FlexibilityIMG_2465

My most recent install in Pennsylvania showcased the power of our Clearview Blue Patch and Splice Cassette, utilized within our 288 panel. I arrived on site knowing only that we would be in a data center and using the Clearview Blue Cassette. Being this was the first time the customer had used our products, they had a number of questions about their installation options. First question was how to bring the cable into the back of our panel. I showed them the multiple cable clamp positions.

Next, they mentioned a future project in which they would require bringing multiple cables to the back of the panel (sometimes up to six), so I demonstrated the ability to double stack the cable clamps, doubling the number of possible positions to secure the cable as it entered the back of the panel. Next came the decision of how much cable to open. I recommended 13 or 14 feet, providing for the necessary 3 feet inside the cassette and roughly 10 feet of slack to be stored. Ultimately, the customer decided upon opening up 14.5 feet, fitting the extra foot or so into the cassette as bare fibers, providing an extra loop of 250 micron inside the cassette in case they ever needed to break a splice, even multiple times.

The customer also mentioned that in a future plan, they wished to bring in two 6 fiber buffer tubes into one cassette. Luckily I had the opportunity to assist a customer in performing exactly that task a month earlier on a previous install. I demonstrated the process of feeding two buffer tubes through the strain relief boot, and the proper splicing methods. Last, but not least, came the decision of whether to use the slack basket on the back of the 288 panel to store buffer tube slack or to use the individual buffer tube storage option on the bottom of each cassette. They decided upon using the slack basket, but remarked that they liked that they had the option of in-cassette buffer tube storage for future applications.

In fact, this customer and others have said the same about our whole system – stating that what they like so much about our products is the simplicity and configurability of the product to suit their needs. With each step of the process, they have options about how they want to configure their network, all of which present their own benefits and simplicity of installation. Their statements mirror what I have so frequently observed as I’ve come along in this industry – that the Clearfield solution isn’t rigid – it’s flexible and ready to be configured however the customer decides, all the while being straight forward and easy to understand.

Jack Morrison

Field Technician