Management and technology changes. Unfortunately the layout of control rooms monitoring security and fire protection are too often locked in place by the thinking common when the facility was built decades ago, not by the best approaches in use today.
Powerflor, a low profile cable management system, lends flexibility to reorganizing power, voice and data services to make these control centers as cutting edge as the new technology being employed, said Jim Norton, the company owner.
“Typically, the problem is that the walls and ceilings are the only place to route your cabling,” Norton said. “If you want to utilize the floor, the old traditional method was to either cut a channel or drill holes through the concrete floor to feed the cabling through.”
Powerflor is flooring assembled from nine-inch square polycarbonate pedestals that allow three inches of clearance underneath to pass cables.
“It provides a method of routing all of your power and data cabling under the floor and then be able to access it where the equipment will be placed,” Norton said.
Edward Franz, vice president and principle in Powerflor, said the flooring system was developed with two goals in mind.
“The first goal was to have a fully integrated solution,” Franz said. “That is, we’re not a floor-only solution. We integrate a premanufactured electrical system and a pre-determined data system as part of our cabling solution.”
The second goal is to provide a solution using a pre-manufactured, modular approach, he said.
As opposed to standard raised flooring, Powerflor maintains a low profile, Norton said.
“It’s three-inches high versus six inches or more for a conventional raised floor, “ he said. “And the flooring itself is not attached to the building or the subfloor in any way. It is contained by the walls, allowing it to be reconfigured as needed in the future.”
The modular panels are loose laid from wall to wall, held together by specially cut sections around the perimeter. Beneath the panels, a pre-manufactured electrical system provides “plug and play” capabilities that do not require an electrician to install, Franz said.
A secondary low-voltage wiring system is provided for use with voice and data systems.
“We already have jack connectors installed on the end of those cables,” he said. Each panel can be fitted with power or data outlets as needed.
An electrician or IT personnel are required to make the final connection to the main power or data coming into the room.
Size of the panels is determined by the nine-inch-square standard for floor carpeting. Each panel comes pre-carpeted, making additional covering unnecessary.
“What sets Powerflor apart is that most other systems require that you actually mechanically secure the tiles or pedestals to the subfloor,” Norton said. “This is a true floating floor. If they want to move an outlet or data terminal six feet to a new location, it is simply a matter of slipping a putty knife between two panels, pop the one you want out, move it to a new location and drop it in.”
Powerflor can even be installed atop a conventional commercial grade of carpet already in place, Norton said.
“Typically, we provide all the installation,” Norton said. “However, if a customer wants to install it to train their people, it doesn’t require any special trade skills. We would provide a supervisor for that training.”
Aside from control rooms, Powerflor can be used to better organize classrooms and training centers using computers and audio-visual equipment.
“Most buildings that have been around for a while have miles of permanent wiring that isn’t being used anymore,” Norton said. “With Powerflor, if the company decides to relocate the operation to another part of the building, you can take the flooring and the wiring with it.”
Independent laboratory testing confirms that Powerflor meets building codes for load ratings and fire impact.
“Our product is manufactured from a strength reinforced polycarbonate,” Norton said. “It is not a polyethylene styrene or other plastics that have a severe off-gassing concern.” Powerflor typically costs about $30 per square foot, delivered and installed.
“Compare that with the cost of doing concrete coring, calling in electricians, IT personnel and general contractors,” Norton said. “The numbers get really high. The beauty of Powerflor is that it is priced complete, designed, delivered and installed.”