Cabling Restaurants

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On new restaurant and coffee shop site openings, the biggest mistake I encounter regarding the cabling is that insufficient cable runs are generally specified. It is really easy to quickly think what you need and pick a number out of your head. Far better to sit down and plan out exactly what devices will need to connect. Remember all the different devices telephones, tills, credit card machines, wireless access points and any other device requiring a wired network connection. Ideally you should also have some spare cable runs in key areas. This will enable emergency patch lead swap overs should cable runs fail in the middle of a shift, or worse, a busy weekend.

As well as having enough cable runs to service all equipment, always make sure you have cables run to areas where you might want to add in tills or phones at a later date. When setting up a restaurant it is relatively easy to add more cable runs. Within reason, it should not be significantly more expensive to cable for future expansion. Putting in cable runs after all the decoration has been done and the restaurant is open will be far more disruptive and expensive. Spend some time now and get things right first time. The above said, there is also no benefit to putting in vastly more cable runs than you will ever use. That will just incur extra costs for nothing. Whilst rare, I have seen this on numerous occasions.

With new build sites, when the owners do not have dedicated cabling specialists, it is common for them to keep their costs down by using their electricians or builders to run cables. Be careful here. In my experience, whilst the terminations are usually done perfectly well, it is very common for electricians and builders to fail to test or label the points. Builders and electricians do not have to patch out IT devices. If they did, they would never forget to undertake this vital part of the cabling job. Without the points being labelled, your IT vendors will not be able to setup their equipment effectively. Make sure all cable runs are ‘buzzed out’ and labelling correctly, before your contractor leaves site.

There is one other thing that should be considered. Most contractors are happy to place Ethernet points anywhere. They know that they will unlikely be the company called back in the future to undertake repairs. This often results in the points being placed behind beer fridges or in locations where they are inaccessible. At some point, there is a good chance that the Cat5e or Cat6 modules will need to be replaced, especially in areas like kitchens. It is far better if you plan the locations of the Ethernet points to be accessible for future maintenance and easy swap out of patch leads. Having to empty a beer fridge in the middle of service to repair a till connection is not much fun for anyone.

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MWDC Service Provision

"Whilst I do not run cables in myself, I often assist my clients with terminations, testing and labelling of their Cat5e and Cat6 cabling infrastructure. Their builders or electricians run the cables and then I finalise everything else. I then patch in and test network connectivity for their other IT vendors. Following this, I produce cabling and IT equipment schematics for my customers records. These schematics assist with future troubleshooting should problems arise. I also undertake adhoc cable testing and repairs as and when required."