Graybar, a Fortune 500 company, specializes in supply chain management services, and is a leading North American distributor of high quality components, equipment, and materials. We serve the construction market, the commercial, institutional, and government (CIG) market, and the industrial and utility markets. Graybar products and services support new construction, infrastructure updates, building renovation, facility maintenance, repair and operations, and original equipment manufacturing.
Data communications infrastructure is the heart of digital business transformation. Speedier connections, mesh computing and other advancements are critical for businesses to leverage cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), next-generation data analytics and more. ?
The frontier of connected and autonomous vehicles is illustrative of near-future transformations. It’s predicted that in just five years there will be 100 million connected vehicles across the globe, transmitting over 100 petabytes of data per month. In comparison, Facebook currently generates 4PB of data on an average day. By 2021 global IP traffic is expected to reach an annual run rate of 3.3 zettabytes, up from 1.2 zettabytes five years ago, according to Cisco’s forecast.?
Of course, there are less dramatic but no less important scenarios that lead companies to upgrade datacom infrastructures, such as running a more efficient wireless network.?
To adopt this new wave of technologies, businesses will require higher-bandwidth connectivity, driving significant changes to datacom infrastructure. Data centers will see a more condensed footprint and more high-power density equipment, such as multi-core high-end servers, demanding better cooling options.?
The bottom line: No business can risk that its own datacom infrastructure – on-premise at headquarters and spread across edge sites – will be unprepared for the big changes coming its way.
Trade Coax for Fiber and Category Cables to Enable 5G in Buildings
Wireless carriers and device manufacturers are setting the pace for 5G cellular capabilities, which promise to offer rapid download speeds (50 Mbps to 2 Gbps) and lower latency (1 to 30 ms) as their networks are upgraded over time. Carriers are rolling out these networks to more and more cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and Washington are just some of the early locations. Mobile phones with 5G connections, including those from LG and Motorola, are hitting the market, too.?
Still, 5G is in an early phase, so expectations are tempered for enterprise adoption of fixed wireless for in-building coverage. But the future holds great possibilities for 5G and mobile wireless. Applications may run the gamut from enhanced enterprise collaboration capabilities, to virtual reality training apps, to innovative advancements in sectors like healthcare – such as streaming patient vital signs from an ambulance to a hospital ahead of arrival.?
It's never too early to get ready, though. Behind-the-scenes connection updates are required for 5G wireless mobile communication technology. Coaxial cables will give way to fiber optic connections and Cat6 and Cat6a cabling. Distributed antenna systems (DAS), which typically are installed by building owners – the business itself or the landlord from whom it rents space – bring 5G carrier signals into the building. A DAS can support multiple carriers over one antenna network distributed throughout the building.?
Use More Robust Cables for Faster Wi-Fi
A main issue that datacom professionals need to address is the evolution of Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) already has reached mass adoption, supporting more mobile devices per user and better download experiences for them with extended Wi-Fi networks. Companies had to change out Cat6 cables to more robust Cat6a cables to handle increased bandwidth across Power over Ethernet (PoE) wireless access points. ?
They should be pleased to hear that, as they begin the migration to Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) for purposes such as IoT deployments, they’ll be able to count on their Cat6a cables to support the standard’s theoretical 9.6 Gbps speed (up from 3.5 Gbps on Wi-Fi 5). To take full advantage of Wi-Fi 6 technology as it evolves, they will need two Cat6a connections. ?
“It takes a lot of cable to support a wireless system,” says Jim Tatum, a Senior Outside Sales Representative for Graybar. “The pathways out to workstations do have to consider the load, the outside diameter of the cable and the overall design of the data centers. You have to size the pathway appropriately based on the size and number of cables required.” ?
Prepare for IoT
As companies begin to use more interconnected, intelligent devices, such as security cameras or climate control systems, they’ll need to consider how they will best support these IoT connections. One answer is to use PoE cabling as a means of not only carrying power and data to a device, but also controlling the slew of intelligent devices connected to a business’ networks.?
To enable high-bandwidth applications, datacom pros can use twisted-pair copper cabling, such as a Cat6 or Cat6a cable, and run it from a device to a mid-span or endpoint, where the cable can be connectorized using standard RJ-45 or similar modular connectors.?
PoE’s ability to support both power and data transmission can optimize interoperability between intelligent devices. By enabling IoT systems to connect to a single IP network, PoE offers a more cost-efficient cabling solution – it reduces the amount of cable necessary to power and control networked IoT devices. Installation is improved, too, because there will be no need for multiple cable runs – one for power and another for communications.
Plan for Parallel Transmission Speed for Ethernet Advancements?
Meanwhile in the data center, in the last year or so the move away from 10 GbE and 40 GbE Ethernet switching accelerated to 100 GbE as equipment costs fell and the technology matured. But 100 GbE is not the capper by any means.?
Now 200 GbE and 400 GbE are gaining traction in large data centers, helping organizations that are dependent on high-bandwidth applications keep pace with accelerating networked hardware storage speeds at scale. A good option to actually achieve all the potential of 200 or 400 GbE is to choose a multi-fiber optic cable plug-and-play solution that provides a flexible migration path based on your shifting compute and storage needs while managing the complexity of large patching fields. “These are factory pre-determined, pre-polished systems that are factory tested for absolute minimal loss,” says Russ Tomlin, Business Development Manager at Graybar Atlanta. Everything is hot-swappable, so customers can add Ethernet ports as they need them, he notes.?
Cool Down the Data Center for Edge Computing ?
In the near future, computing, storage power and data will be pushed out to the edge of the network, so that bandwidth-intensive and latency-sensitive apps and data don’t have to travel to the cloud or to a centralized data center for processing. Avoiding the extra stop overcomes the last hurdle to near-realtime processing. “Going back to the data center could introduce delays or downtime,” Tomlin says. “The theory is that the more you move the datacom infrastructure closer to the end user, the better bandwidth you’ll experience and the less risk of losing data in transmission.” In exchange for lower latency and network bandwidth conservation, companies have to address power, cooling and cable concerns, both in the main data center and at the edge. Of course, cooling is always an issue in a data center, but that looms larger as processing moves further out.?
In the main data center, server virtualization and server consolidation are increasing – which leads to increased data center equipment density from a square footage perspective. Fewer servers occupy fewer cabinets in a smaller space. With more power in a concentrated area, heat becomes a bigger issue. “The physical size of the data center hasn’t changed, but it is producing more heat in a small space so better cooling becomes critical,” says Tatum.?
Even when edge computing isn’t a factor, datacom pros have to deal with the fact that, generally speaking, older data centers aren’t designed for keeping new high-density and high-variable IT equipment at the right temperature. Their designs have to be rethought to protect against equipment damage.
These problems can be solved with plug-in, no-footprint power distribution systems that can centralize cable distribution, too. Hot aisle/cold aisle configurations separate cold air supply from hot return air. Configurations should be decided and deployed based on parameters such as data center size and dimensions, raised floor versus overhead cabling, ceiling clearances and cooling objectives, Tatum says. Cable management systems can help by reducing cable congestion and ensuring cables are not obstructing cool or hot airflow in floors, ceilings or cabinets. ? ?
In an edge data center, which may be just a small room or even a closet, companies need scalable technologies to avoid having to constantly make unit switch-outs across edge sites over the course of a couple of years as workload and backup demands change. A three-phase UPS power system, for instance, can be an efficient choice for reliable and redundant backup power in the mini data center. With it, businesses can ramp up from what they need to support their current load – say, 20kVa – to a future load – maybe 100 kVa.?
Clearly, there’s no such thing as a steady-state datacom infrastructure, and that’s a good thing.?
Without pushing the envelope on cellular, networking and computing infrastructures, businesses would stall when it comes to leveraging ever-increasing volumes of data and taking advantage of rich but bandwidth-sapping applications that will underpin the next wave of innovations. Planning today’s infrastructure builds with tomorrow’s technologies in mind will help retain the flexibility needed to adopt new solutions as they make sense.
A new report from Accenture makes the case that there’s work to be done: It notes that enterprises have embraced advanced digital technologies, such as IoT/edge computing (77 percent), big data/analytics (83 percent) and digital customer experience (78 percent), but only 36 percent are “very satisfied” that their network currently has the capabilities required to support their business needs.
The sooner businesses upgrade their datacom infrastructure for a rapidly changing world, the better.
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ST. LOUIS, Jan. 6, 2020?-- Graybar, a leading distributor of electrical, communications and data networking products and provider of related supply chain management and logistics services, today announced the launch of the Graybar Construction Trades Scholarship.
"Skilled workers are vital to the long-term success of the construction industry," said Graybar Chairman, President and CEO Kathy Mazzarella. "Because of labor shortages, many of our customers are struggling to keep up with demand, which ultimately impacts the entire supply chain."
High school students who plan to enroll in a community college or trade school upon graduation are eligible to apply for Graybar's need-based, renewable scholarship. Students must intend to complete an associate degree, a pre-apprenticeship or an apprenticeship in the construction trades, such as electrical, HVAC, plumbing, pipefitting or welding. The scholarship is administered by the St. Louis Community Foundation and applications will be accepted through April 15, 2020.
"Through this scholarship program, our goal is to increase awareness of careers in the construction trades," said Mazzarella. "We also want to remove barriers for young people with financial needs so they have the opportunity to pursue these careers."
For more information about the Graybar Construction Trades Scholarship, as well as resources to share with students, visit www.poweringtrades.com.
Graybar, a Fortune 500 corporation and one of the largest employee-owned companies in North America, is a leader in the distribution of high quality electrical, communications and data networking products, and specializes in related supply chain management and logistics services. Through its network of nearly 290 North American distribution facilities, it stocks and sells products from thousands of manufacturers, helping its customers power, network and secure their facilities with speed, intelligence and efficiency. For more information, visit www.gonghou.site or call 1-800-GRAYBAR.
Realizing the promise of Industry 4.0 isn’t always easy for managers of older factories and plants. Here’s a seven-point guide that everyone can use to help their plants reap the benefits of IIoT, automation and other flagship Industry 4.0 technologies.
There’s a lot of buzz around Industry 4.0 right now, and for good reason. With the goal of creating “smarter” factories where all digital and physical assets are connected using artificial intelligence (AI), the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), cloud computing, robotics and other technologies, Industry 4.0 helps create more flexible, responsive and interconnected factories.
“More and more companies see Industry 4.0 as a competitive advantage,” says Michael Schneeweis, a Manager of Industrial Business at Graybar, “and are leveraging it to gain an edge in this ever-changing market through a more analytics-driven production approach.”
Getting there isn’t always easy or cheap, and managers of existing facilities can face particularly high hurdles in their quest to maximize the benefits of Industry 4.0. While the average U.S. factory was 16 years old in 1980, that number has since risen to 25, according to McKinsey. The average age of the equipment inside those plants has also increased from seven years old in 1980 to nine years old today. In most metals, machinery and equipment manufacturing applications, that number is even higher.
Rewind the clock back 25 years — the average age of a factory today — and the Global Positioning System (GPS) had just become fully operational; NSFNET had just been decommissioned, thus removing the last restrictions on the use of the Internet to carry commercial traffic; and the average person still didn’t own a personal computer (let alone a mobile phone). Factories were running pretty much the way they’d always been, and acronyms like IoT and AI were still years away from going mainstream.
Factories have come a long way since then. Machinery is built with smart sensors that collect production data in real time; humans are working alongside robots to get tasks completed more quickly and additive manufacturing enabled by 3D printing has moved from the conceptual stage to full-blown reality. Combined, these and other advanced technologies represent a combination of systems that converge in a setting where all stakeholders have real-time insights into products, processes and people.
“This new wave … is driven by an explosion in the volume of available data, developments in analytics and machine learning, new forms of human–machine interaction (such as touch interfaces and augmented-reality systems), and the ability to transmit digital instructions to the physical world,” McKinsey points out. “Such complementary technologies can run smart, cost-efficient, and automated plants that produce large volumes — or, conversely, plants that turn out highly customized products.”
Seven Ways to Maximize Industry 4.0 Technology
Realizing the promise of Industry 4.0 isn’t always easy for managers of older factories and plants. Here are seven strategies that all managers can use to start reaping the benefits of IIoT, automation and other flagship Industry 4.0 technologies.
In return for implementing these strategies, Schneeweis says most plants will experience higher productivity levels, better supply chain visibility and improved efficiencies. “Data is the new arms race and more companies are going down this path,” he concludes. “To remain competitive in their respective markets, even older plants are going to have to start moving in this direction.”
Graybar has always been committed to honoring the men and women who serve our country. We are proud to continue that tradition this year by sponsoring a new segment on KMOV4?in St. Louis called “Spotlight on Those Who Served,” which features stories from local veterans.
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Missouri, December 13, 2019 – Cape Electrical Supply, a wholly owned subsidiary of Graybar, today announced that Ryan Weissmueller has been appointed President, effective Jan. 2, 2020. Weissmueller has been with the company since 2006 working in various capacities, serving as Vice President of Finance since 2016.?
Kyle Thoma has served as President since 2012 and Chief Executive Officer since 2013. Moving forward, Thoma will remain CEO and work to expand Cape Electric’s growing services business, CES Integration, or CESI for short.?
“I am honored to assume the role of President for Cape Electric,” Weissmueller said. “The wholesale distribution industry is in the midst of a digital revolution, and Cape Electric has the agility, resources and strong foundation to meet these new challenges head on. I am excited to work closely with the management team during these transformational times and explore innovative ways to provide the best customer experience.”?
Thoma added, “Ryan has played a critical role in our success over the years, and he has a passion for growing our company. Cape Electric is in good hands and will benefit greatly from Ryan’s continued leadership.”
Cape Electrical Supply is a wholly owned subsidiary of Graybar and is a leader in the distribution of high quality electrical, utility, MRO, communications and data networking products, and specializes in related supply chain management and logistics services through a 14 branch network residing in six states throughout the Midwest. For more information visit www.capeelectric.com.
With 8,700 employees in 289 locations across North America including Canada and Puerto Rico, Graybar is a national company with local career opportunities, including:
Interested in pursuing a career in the construction trades? Click here to learn about Graybar’s new scholarship program.
??Named to FORTUNE World’s Most Admired Companies list for the 17th year (2019)
??No. 423 on the FORTUNE 500 ranking of America’s largest companies (2019)
??Named one of the Top Workplaces in Atlanta, the California Bay Area, South Carolina and Edison and Teterboro (2019)
??No. 11 on the National Center for Employee Ownership “Employee Ownership 100” list (2019)
??No. 3 on Electrical Wholesaling’s Top 200 Electrical Distributors list (2019)
??No. 4 on the Modern Distribution Management Market Leaders list (2019)
??Named one of Selling Power’s “Best Companies to Sell For” (2019)
??On Broadband Communities’ Fiber to the Home Top 100 list (2019)?
??No. 5 on the St. Louis Business Journal’s Top 150 Privately Held Companies list (2019)
??2019 Private Board of the Year Award by Private Company Director, Directors and Boards and Family Business magazines
? Awarded the BBB Torch Award for the company’s commitment to customer satisfaction and business ethics (2019)
As a leading North American distributor, Graybar operates with one clear mission: to serve as the vital link in the supply chain, adding value for customers and suppliers with innovative solutions and services. Graybar’s strategy is to sustain the organization as an independent and employee-owned company, while achieving the results that position the company as an industry leader and allows Graybar to work to the advantage of those it serves.