Once the fiber has been properly installed, it typically has
a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years. This life expectancy is not referring to 25 to 30 years of maintenance
free service however, and it is important for the end user to maintain the
system once it has been installed.
Worn treads cause a flat tire on the road in the
middle of nowhere. Failure to oil a
motor causes engine failure. A knick in
an electrical drop cord gives you a shock when you are retrieving it across wet
grass. A light bulb burns out in the
middle of the night just when you need it most.
These are just a few examples of preventable situations if
you had just taken a few moments out of your busy schedule to check and
It’s true that we have become a very disposable society and
it often seems easier to buy, use and pitch than it is to take care of
something so it lasts longer. About the
only time that we pay attention to preventive care and maintenance is when it
is very expensive and we are the ones who are ultimately responsible for its
safe and effective operation.
A splendid example is our new car. It comes with an owner’s manual, a
maintenance manual and even digital warning detectors for tire pressure, oil
change, failed lights etc. Our telecommunication systems rarely offer us these
friendly reminders or come with a handy guide for maintenance.
Imagine your flight being cancelled because the airlines or
airport computer systems inadvertently went down or being stuck in a huge
traffic jam because an intersections traffic light failed. Problems like this happen all too often, but
are they preventable?
In the world of computer networks and telecommunications,
where we are becoming so sophisticated and bandwidth dependent, it has gotten
to the point where failure is not an option. One of those high bandwidth components that we have added to networking
systems is fiber optics.
Fiber works on the premise of converting analog or digital
signals to equivalent light signals for high speed, long range
transmission. It utilizes a glass
waveguide that is fitted with connectors on each end in order to connect to
light interface units and eventually to conversion equipment that will change
the light pulse signal back to analog or digital for the PC or other equipment
such as cameras, controllers, monitors and so on.
Since fiber optic
connectors are not hermetically sealed, dust, moisture and a host of other contaminants
can freely enter the connection area. For this reason, fiber folks generally refer to the fact that the losses
that you will first see on a newly installed fiber link, will only continue to
grow as the system operates year after year.
There comes a point when contaminated connection losses have
gotten so great that the operating system shuts down, intermittently at first
and then a total shut down.
A way to avoid a situation such as this, which often occurs
when you least expect or can afford it, is to first save the post installation
test results provided by your installer and then use this information as a
benchmark or starting point for monitoring fiber link losses that will
eventually shut down your systems if left unchecked.
At the beginning of each year or when it is convenient to
shut down your system during a low use time, retest your fiber link(s) and
compare the last twelve months of losses to the original benchmark test. If this is done annually over a three year
time period, you will get a pretty good picture of just how long your fiber can
operate without preventive maintenance.
In highly controlled environments such as data centers and
conditioned server rooms, dust is very tightly controlled so cleaning frequency
will drop off accordingly. However, in spaces where dust is not controlled or
is not minimized to a very small particle size, the cleaning frequency will
need to increase. Broom closets, traffic
cabinets, open office space and industrial facilities are all subject to high
dust conditions and it is important to understand that a single speck of dust,
just 1/10 of the diameter of a human hair, can take down an entire system if it
becomes positioned on the core of your transmitting fiber. That is, every connection within the link
represents a potential contamination failure point.
With the knowledge in hand of when to clean, our industry
has made this task quite simple with convenient click cleaners, rapid drying
cleaning solutions and in port inspection devices all available through FNT Fiber
Network Tools and Telecom Supplies. By
the way, each time you clean your fiber links, be sure to have them tested
again in order to keep your records current.
Now that everything has been made near effortless for you to
keep your fiber clean through preventive maintenance, there should be no excuse
for your network failing when you can least afford it.
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