Friday, February 24, 2012

Brady Printing Resources as a Solution for Cable Infrastructure Identification – Guest Blog

by Annie Ropella, Brady Worldwide Product Specialist—Portable Printing Systems

Structured cabling can be expensive and highly labor-intensive to install, yet it is a critical component to any business' operations. One of the most important steps in preserving this investment is properly identifying your infrastructure.

Like many companies, yours may be struggling with how to get started with cabling identification. Given the nuances of the industry and different preferences from installer to installer, there are a variety of options for identification solutions, from printers to label materials to software. How do you know what systems will work best for you?

Here a few different questions to ask yourself when choosing an identification system:
  • Where will the printer be used?
  • How many labels will be needed—a few at a time or thousands in a day?
  • Where, and in what type of environments, will the labels be used?
  • What are the items that will need identification (patch panels, cables, cable bundles, etc.)?

Asking where a printer will be used helps narrow down whether the printer needs to be portable or stationary and how large it can be. For some large projects in the cabling industry, labels may be printed in the office or warehouse by a "label guru" and then taken to the job site. If a lower volume of labels is required, or labels are needed on the spot, printing them on-site with a portable printer proves to be the best option. When developing a printer for the structured cabling applications, Brady looks at where the device will be used along with what features are needed. From this, we strike a balance between form factor and functionality needs.

To increase long-term benefits, it's critical to also think about how adaptable you'll need the printer to be. One of the most powerful tools to make a printer adaptable is software. Label design features built into the software simplify the creation of complex labels. Optional software also lets users easily manage large amounts of data and create more detailed and complex labels.

Another way your printer becomes adaptable is in the variety of labels it can create. Be sure to consider all of the items in your project that will need identification and select a solution that can fulfill all of the needs. Also, consider the label's environment and conditions for survival:
  • Extreme heat, cold, or rain
  • Surface type where label will be used
  • Flat smooth surface or a rounded textured surface
At Brady, when our team is developing new materials, these are all essential questions to answer. Self-laminating and cloth labels are best for labeling curved surfaces (like cables and pipes), while polyester is best for flat surfaces, (like equipment and hardware identification). There also are a number of customer-requested specialty label materials that are ideal for unique applications (examples include glow-in-the-dark and reflective label materials). While these materials may not be necessary for every customer or project, they might meet requirements for certain projects where it is necessary for the label to be easily seen in the dark or in low-light situations.

For structured cabling projects, another aspect of adaptability is the printing network. Many companies want the ability to produce consistent, professional identification labels across multiple printing systems while also maintaining a clean and crisp look for their projects. If you will be using both large desktop printers and portable printers for a job, you want the labels to look consistent and seamless. Brady takes this into consideration so our latest portable printers offer the same variety of materials and label sizes as many of the desktop printers.

A special thank you to our guest blogger, Annie Ropella, from Brady Worldwide.

To learn more about Brady's Portable Printing Solutions, or to place an order for printers, labels, and accessories, please visit QSource.com's Brady Label Printers Department or contact us by phone (800-966-6020) or email.

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