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.
Graybar works with top manufacturers to distribute a wide range of products for all types of projects. In addition to our core electrical, communications and data networking (comm/data) categories, we also offer lighting, MRO, safety, security, and other products needed across a variety of industries.
Search our online product catalog »
Learn more about our manufacturers »
Graybar specializes in complete building solutions, and can help customers manage even the largest projects. Services include logistics, inventory, and materials management, process efficiency, complete building systems, and other business services.
Read about our services »
Graybar is focused on helping contractors improve their efficiency and profitability. Learn more from our customers by watching the clip on this page, or click the link below to see the full video.
Watch our Advanced Supply Chain Management video »
Here are two important UL standards that all contractors should consider when matching up products with applications on the jobsite.
Focused on building a safer, more sustainable world for everyone, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) manages product safety testing, standardization and certification that impacts every project—from minor remodels to the construction of high-rise buildings, and everything in between.
Supporting the manufacture, sale and use of products that are both approved to a recognized standard and environmentally friendly is a moving target in today’s electrical environment, where innovation is taking place in nearly every corner of the market. To stay ahead of the game, UL continually updates its standards and regulations.
When UL 508 and UL 60947-4-1 Became One
To ensure high levels of safety and compliance, electrical contractors must stay on top of these changes and incorporate them into their work. In 2017, UL replaced the current requirements in UL 508 with UL 60647-4-1 for several types of industrial control equipment. The Standard for Safety for Industrial Control Equipment, UL 508 covers industrial control and related devices rated 1500 volts or less used for starting, stopping, regulating, controlling or protecting electric motors.
UL 60947-4-1 applies (when required by the relevant product standard), to switchgear and controlgear that is meant to be connected to circuits, the rated voltage of which does not exceed 1000 volts (AC) or 1500 volts (DC).
The standard for Industrial Control Equipment (UL 508) has been harmonized with the relevant product standards of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard for low-voltage control and automation (IEC 60947-4-1). According to Schneider Electric, products originally listed to UL 508 will maintain their listing with no expiration, and UL 508 and UL 60947-4-1 products can be used interchangeably.
After January 27, 2017, all new electro-mechanical contactors and starters had to instead meet UL 60947-4-1 specifications.
UL says that this harmonization work was undertaken with the intent of creating standards that, while being based upon and adopting IEC requirements, would incorporate sufficient national differences to ease the transition from UL 508 to UL 60947-4-1. “This goal has largely been accomplished in all cases,” UL points out. “While the UL 508 and UL 60947 series standards do not look the same, when taking into account the national differences included in the harmonized standards, they are essentially technically identical.”
Circuit Breakers Vs. Supplementary Protectors: What’s the Difference?
As electrical products continue to evolve, there’s been some confusion over which UL standards apply to circuit breakers and supplementary protectors. Contractors should pay attention to this area, as the UL product standards concerning circuit breakers (UL 489) and supplementary protectors for use in electrical equipment (UL 1077) is a somewhat confusing area that can create significant issues if not followed properly.
The problem is that UL 1077 supplementary protectors are often inaccurately referred to as circuit breakers. In fact, circuit breakers are listed to the UL 489 standard, while supplementary protectors are listed to the UL 1077 standard.
As Schneider Electric explains, UL 489 circuit breakers are used to protect feeder and branch circuits. In contrast, UL 1077 supplementary protectors are intended for use as overcurrent protection within a piece of equipment where branch circuit overcurrent protection is already provided.
Here are a four more points to keep in mind when working with these products:
By understanding how to identify the products in question, contractors can more readily discern between UL 489 branch protection and UL 1077 supplementary protection requirements on the jobsite. While the two may share a similar purpose, getting the right application aligned with the right standard will not only help optimize the control panel, but also reduce the likelihood of electrical fires and shock hazards.
To learn more about how each UL Standard applies to each project, see the UL's Catalog of Standards online here. The catalog lists UL’s Standards and provides prices and ordering information.
How to develop a technology roadmap supported by government grants to improve the K-12 learning experience across all student groups.
When parents walk their children to the bus stop or drop them off in front of a school building every morning, they expect that those eager minds will have the tools, resources and support that they need to learn in the 21st Century classroom.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Educational tech equity, defined as the gap between students’ educational experience and outcomes when technology is a factor—or a lack thereof—impacts some of our nation’s most vulnerable groups, including English language learners (ELL), students with disabilities, residents of rural areas and impoverished families.
Driven by initiatives like the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which aims to ensure success for students and schools, and advances equity by upholding critical protections for America's disadvantaged and high-need students, schools are working to create equity in K-12 learning while also developing a positive experience for children.
Whether they’re upgrading their Wi-Fi systems to cover larger areas of campus, installing cabling to support the installation of new classroom A/V equipment or improving campus security with surveillance cameras, schools are putting more time and effort into a wide range of edtech initiatives.
Of course, all of these initiatives require funding, much of which can be found through a combination of local, state and federal grants designed to even out the tech equity playing field. The E-rate funding program, for example, makes telecommunications and information services more affordable for schools and libraries. With funding from the Universal Service Fund, E-rate provides discounts for telecommunications, Internet access and internal connections to eligible organizations.
In 2018, the Universal Service Administrative Co., received 35,000 applications for a total of $2.77 billion in grant requests. Within 30 days of the window closing, it issued the first funding commitment wave for the year. That included 15,000 applications – 43 percent of the applications that were filed in the window – and over $503 million in funding requests. “By the beginning of June,” USAC says on its website, “we had committed $1 billion on 18,000 applications.”
Divided into two different categories, E-rate funding covers data transmission and Internet access services (Category 1) and infrastructure costs like wireless access points, switching, caching and firewalls (Category 2). The latter also covers Wi-Fi services provided by a third-party vendor that manages the design, configuration and updates for the internal connection’s infrastructure.
Why Aren’t More Schools Using Grants?
Despite persistent gaps in educational tech equity, K-12 schools are missing out on the funding that they need to upgrade, replace or install new technology infrastructure. According to EdTech, funding requests for Wi-Fi equipment and related technology have dropped steadily over the last three years—from $3.6 billion to 2016 to $2.8 billion in 2018.
“Unused funds are rolled over into the next year, so there is plenty of money available for districts that need it,” Funds for Learning’s Brian Stephens told EdTech. “Right now, the program is able to fund every application that has been submitted and follows the rules.” Stephens chalks the decline in applications up to funding caps for Category 2 equipment, phase-out of support for voice services and the perception that the E-rate program is too complex.
The perceived complexities extend beyond E-rate. Grants as a whole tend to be complex processes that consume time, resources and funding (e.g. to hire an outside grant writer or consultant) that many budget-conscious schools and districts can’t afford. “It all comes down to budget; going out for grants is an important step that K-12 schools must take in order to offset their technology costs,” says Carter Rains, Business Development Manager at Graybar Electric.
A large district that’s had the same technology infrastructure in place for 20+ years, for example, can most effectively close the learning equity gap by putting modern, emerging applications into place. “It’s imperative that today’s schools be forward-thinking on this front,” says Rains, “in terms of coming up with written specifications and targeted benchmarks for how to close the edtech gap.”
A Role Model to Follow
Schools looking for role models to follow on the technology infrastructure funding path can look one of several, statewide consortiums formed specifically for this reason. In some cases, these organizations use a robust network and educational resources to connect all of the school districts, schools and higher education institutions in a specific state.
As part of their mission, these consortiums also apply for and implement the funds received for the services provided to schools. In most cases, Rains says Internet connectivity is funded through programs like E-rate, while classroom (projectors, displays, etc.) and infrastructure (cabling) A/V investments are paid for via the traditional construction channel. These investments usually come out of the school’s regular budget or are partially funded by local or state grants, or another source.
“Typically, a low-voltage technology consultant writes the specifications and puts all the device locations on a set of drawings,” Rains says. “The drawings are sent out through the construction channel, where the bids are collected. The low-voltage contractor is selected, often choosing the lowest responsive bid and work begins at the appropriate construction schedule.”
Graybar is helping one Utah school district to update its technology infrastructure and put more state-of-the-art resources into the hands of its teachers, students and administrators. Graybar also keeps the district in the loop about what new products are available on the market, helping the district write up specifications for new projects, develop drawings and manage related requests.
“We’re helping with all of the district’s low-voltage needs, including surveillance cameras, access control, data network cabling, fiber optics and A/V,” says Rains. “We do this as part of an end-to-end solution that includes pairing up manufacturers' products with the right applications in the K-12 setting.”
Getting More Serious About Security
In the aftermath of the deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., a majority of American teens said that they were “very” or “somewhat” worried about the possibility of a shooting happening at their school – and most parents of teens shared that concern, according to Pew Research Center survey of teens ages 13 to 17 (and parents with children in the same age range).
Unfortunately, this incident is one of several that have traumatized our nation’s schools, students, parents, teachers and administrators in recent years. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), schools are using a variety of practices and procedures to promote the safety of students, faculty and staff. Certain practices, such as locking or monitoring doors and gates, are intended to limit or control access to school campuses, it says, while others, such as the use of metal detectors and security cameras, are intended to monitor or restrict students' and visitors' behavior on campus.
By NCES’ most recent count, 94 percent of public schools use controlled access to school buildings by locking or monitoring doors during school hours. Other safety and security measures include the use of security cameras to monitor the school (81 percent); requiring faculty and staff to wear badges or picture IDs (68 percent); and the enforcement of a strict dress code (53 percent).
Recently, Graybar worked with an Arkansas school district that wanted to restrict front entryway access only to those individuals who belonged on campus and/or in the front office. Working with a contractor, the district physically partitioned off a part of the lobby and used it as a reception area. The district also installed mag locks, push-to-exit systems and call buttons—all with the goal of keeping its students and staff safe while on campus.
“Now, someone has to physically allow visitors to gain access to the rest of the building,” says Kathrine Glasgow, an Inside/Outside Sales Representative at Graybar. The district also installed about 450 cameras in all of its buildings. Again, this was done in the name of protecting students and staff while assuring parents that the district is doing its part to keep their children safe and secure.
In Arkansas, this and similar projects are often procured through the TIP/TAPS program. A purchasing cooperative serving public and private school districts, colleges, universities, federal, state, county and city municipalities, TIPS/TAPS provides substantial savings and best value for participating members through cooperative purchasing practices.
“We work with contractors—all of which are members of TIPS/TAPS if they’re doing school work,” says Glasgow, “to supply the products and expertise they need to get the work done for these very important security projects.”
Getting Everyone Onboard
As the nation’s educational institutions continue their steady trek into the digital world, more of them will rely on state and federal funding and consortiums to help them achieve their goals. One key benefit of these efforts will clearly be a more equitable educational landscape; another will be a cohort of students who are both college- and career-ready.
To achieve these goals, Rains tells school districts to get all stakeholders onboard and involved with IT projects early, and in terms of both basic infrastructure design and classroom technology. Key departments involved with the technology selection and implementation should include (but aren’t limited to) IT, administration, curriculum directors and teachers.
“There’s so much technology being thrown at the educational arena right now,” Rains concludes, “and it’s important that schools specify the right infrastructure to support all of these emerging applications.”
Five E-Rate Forms to Know
In EdTech’s School Districts Take Advantage of E-Rate’s Category One Funding, Wylie Wong explains what forms districts will have to fill out when applying for the federal program. They are:
- Form 470: This starts the competitive bid process. Once this form is filed, applicants can solicit bids. After filing the form, schools have to wait 28 days before reviewing bids.
- Form 471: The form requires documentation that details the cost, specific products and services schools want to purchase and where they will be deployed.
- Form 486: If the project is approved, schools must submit Form 486 before USAC will make payments. On this form, schools will confirm the start date of services and that they comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act.
- Form 498 and Form 472: Applicants can pay their service provider or vendor in full and get reimbursed by filling out Form 498 and providing banking information to USAC. They then fill out form 472 to get paid.
Last Updated: June 19, 2019. Summer is a busy season for some of our most vital industries, including construction, energy and utility work. These industries have at least one thing in common: They all depend on personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep workers safe. While the importance of PPE is recognized by most workers in these industries, the heat and humidity of the summer months can make PPE compliance a challenge.
On a hot day, it can be tempting to remove a hard hat or full-body suit to feel the cool breeze. Needless to say, deviating from proper PPE protocol, even for an instant, can subject workers to a greater risk of injury or illness.
Fortunately, there are strategies employers can use to encourage compliance with company PPE policy, even during the hottest summer days.
Consider the following:
PPE is a worker’s last line of defense against workplace injury. According to the National Institute for Safety and Health's Hierarchy of Controls, personal protective equipment ranks as the least-effective intervention, following elimination of risks, replacement of hazardous tasks, isolating risky situations from workers and altering work practices. This does not make PPE the “least important” safety intervention. When all else fails, PPE is the last thing standing between a worker and a potentially serious injury.
The historical track record on PPE compliance hasn’t been great. At a 2010 American Society of Safety Engineers conference, a survey showed 98 percent of respondents had personally observed violations of PPE standards. Earlier surveys from 2006 through 2008 showed noncompliance rates of at least 85 percent on PPE usage.
In addition to the safety problems associated with poor PPE utilization, employers face serious penalties from OSHA when their employees don’t wear their protective gear. For more information on OSHA standards and fines related to PPE, click here.
Compliance with OSHA’s PPE standards is too important to ignore. When the temperature soars, workers are more likely to want to sacrifice safety for comfort, which jeopardizes the success of their employer’s safety program. Here are a few ways to help everyone on the jobsite wear appropriate PPE, no matter how intensely the sun beats down.
PPE Compliance Tips for the Summer Heat
Prevent PPE violations by limiting heat illness risk factors. In 2011, OSHA launched a Heat Illness Prevention campaign, addressing a then-common cause of workplace illness. The principles set forth in this program have the added bonus of helping workers stay more comfortable during hot day shifts, reducing their desire to shed safety layers. Essentially, OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention campaign can be reduced to three main factors: water, rest and shade. Employers should ensure that all employees have constant access to clean, potable water, and encourage them to continually hydrate throughout the day. Work/rest cycles should also be put in place to keep workers comfortable. Additionally, workers should have access to cool, shady areas—or, better yet, air-conditioned trailers.
Choose PPE that’s designed for comfort and breathability. Not all PPE is designed for comfort in high-temperature applications. Say you need a chemical-protective suit for an outdoor job; look for products built to dissipate body heat during use, such as protective coveralls from 3M™. Some of these models, such as the 3M™ Protective Coverall 4510, use a breathable laminate on polypropylene fabric to protect skin while allowing heat to escape. It’s also a good practice to look for PPE that is light in color, which will reflect heat rather than absorb it. In some applications, heat-protective gloves and/or sleeves can help workers handle sun-heated materials in comfort.
Provide cooling accessories for existing PPE. Rather than replacing workplace PPE, employers can invest in cooling accessories that workers can wear beneath or attached to existing items. For instance, Protective Industrial Products (PIP) offers a full range of EZ-Cool tank tops and vests that dissipate heat through evaporative cooling. Users need only soak the garment in water for a minute or two, wring out the excess and enjoy up to a full shift’s worth of cooling activity. Neck shade attachments for hard hats are also available. Even a simple solution, like an evaporative cooling towel from PIP, can considerably improve the comfort of PPE on a sunny day.
Plan for brightness as well as heat. In the construction industry, OSHA standard 1926.102 requires employers to “ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.” Standard 1910.133 echoes this rule in industries other than construction. For most employees, compliance with this regulation is accomplished through the use of safety eyewear. When the summer sun is shining, this eyewear should also be built to limit glare, eliminate fogging and protect the eyes from damaging UV rays. The 3M™ Solus™ 1000 eyewear series includes a Scotchgard™ anti-fog coating, absorbs 99.9 percent of UV rays, and is available with a variety of lens tints. PIP offers a full range of safety glasses with infrared-filtering lenses that block UV rays while protecting eyes from flash burns associated with welding arcs.
Train employees and supervisors to recognise the symptoms of heat-related illness. Training is an essential part of any OSHA-compliant PPE program. In fact, general industry standard 1910.132(f)(1) states that, “The employer shall provide training to each employee who is required by this section to use PPE.” Similarly, training for heat safety can help prevent illness and injury from outdoor work during the summer months. OSHA recommends educating teams on the hazards associated with summer heat, including the factors that lead to heat-related illness, symptoms of these illnesses and procedures for prevention and response. Learn more about heat-related illness on the job here, courtesy of OSHA.
While this list is far from complete, it provides an introduction to a few low-cost, high-impact techniques that can help keep workers safe during the summer months. When it comes to PPE compliance, a little bit of planning can go a long way.
Do you remember a few years ago when iPhones were having battery life issues? One minute my smartphone would have full battery, then I’d take a call, it would drain to 20% and then go blank. Shut down. No power.
For the most part the phone worked, it was still acceptable by technology standards, but it was becoming unreliable. I never knew if the next time I fired up the GPS if it would just leave me stranded in the middle of nowhere. I felt like I was constantly ‘rolling the dice’ by relying on the device.
That’s the same way I look at switchgear in industrial facilities. Sure, the switchgear is working most of the time, but its aging and starting to become unreliable. And just like my phone, nothing works without power.
If your plant is experiencing regular unplanned downtime, your aging switchgear may be to blame. Here are three signs that point to needing a power distribution upgrade.
Loss of production time due to unreliable power or outages
If you’re a manufacturer, every unplanned outage is hurting your business in a number of ways including production time loss, product loss, repair material sourcing, expediting repair product to your location and more.
I like to compare it to a car. How much are you going to let that old Buick ‘nickel and dime’ you at the mechanic before you trade it in on a new model?
If your maintenance crew or outside contractors are regularly coming in to service the gear, you’ve got a problem. Are the breakers constantly tripping or overheating? Maybe the breakers won’t open or close?
No matter the issue, unplanned shutdowns impact the bottom line and the longer you delay addressing the problem, the costs will continue to climb.
If you’re losing production time due to reliability issues, step back and consider how much money you’re pouring into old equipment versus the cost of a new or retrofitted power distribution solution.
Breakers or product are no longer available
In this job, I hang out with a lot of gray boxes. I’ve seen gear that is 40 to 50 years old and even older. And if it’s maintained well, the switchgear may have no problems.
But the problem is the breakers. If one breaks – it’s likely no longer on planet Earth. And if you are lucky enough to find a couple, they’re old, and it makes you wonder exactly how long will this product will even work.
Now look back at your multi-million dollar production line. Do you really want your line relying on this outdated product to keep it running? That’s the kind of thing that keeps maintenance, facility managers and even CFOs up at night.
If this ancient part goes down, how will it affect your business? If the impact is great enough, it’s time to start thinking about a plan B.
Ready to grow and upgrade with new technology
In manufacturing, everyone wants to grow, expand and create more product. Maybe you want to add a new machine or a whole new line. If your switchgear is old, it’s likely you’re at capacity and it will be difficult trying to find the parts to expand.
Along the same lines, many manufacturers are looking to get more functionality out of their gear. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
Having a more connected plant floor will provide analytics that can help your business assess system health and help you run the business more effectively.
Manufacturers are wanting to communicate with their gear remotely, monitor the power quality and bring power data into the building automation system.
Do you have a power distribution plan?
While it may be very expensive to replace your entire power distribution system to reap the uptime and IIoT benefits, you have a lot of options. Many manufacturers are opting to retrofit their existing gear.
If the metal is still good, you can replace the interior buckets and get new breakers, cradles and updated technology at a fraction of the cost. You can start small with a phased approach.
You’ll get a more current product, so if something breaks you can easily find a replacement, and you’ll benefit from new technology like metering or adjustable trip units at a cost-effective price.
It’s important to have a plan in place to get your operation up and running if something does happen. You can lean on a manufacturer or a specialty distributor like Graybar to come in and do a facility assessment of your power system.
Graybar can help you come up with a game plan in case something does happen or show you how to be proactive to address aging before it becomes a problem. Our goal is to provide solutions that can help your plant stay profitable, effective and efficient.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) can save lives. Still, it’s not uncommon to walk onto a jobsite and find workers engaged in potentially dangerous tasks without adequate protection.
But just how prevalent is PPE noncompliance? While sources differ on exact rates, one survey reports nearly 90 percent of respondents stating they have observed workers not using PPE in dangerous situations.
This is a risk for both workers and their employers, who are responsible for maintaining a safe workplace under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. For most industries, the relevant OSHA standard is 29 CFR 1910.132, which states, in part, that PPE “shall be provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever it is necessary…”
In the construction industry, employers should look to 29 CFR 1926.28(a): “The employer is responsible for requiring the wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment in all operations where there is an exposure to hazardous conditions…”
How can an employer boost PPE compliance rates amongst workers? Research has revealed some of the top reasons why workers fail to use PPE. Here are some of those barriers to compliance, along with suggestions for overcoming them.
Perhaps the most important thing employers can do to boost PPE usage among their workers is to invest in training, including supplementary education. After all, the OSHA standards both for general industry and for construction require employers to provide such training.
When training employees on successful PPE use, it’s helpful to think of the process not as a one-time event, but as an ongoing reorientation toward safety best practices. By emphasizing the benefits of personal protective equipment through training and reminders — and by providing sufficient amounts of products that are comfortable and easy to access — employers can take an important step toward building a culture around safety.
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:
• No. 57 on the Forbes America’s Largest Private Companies list (2018)
• 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)
• No. 55 on the Forbes America’s Largest Private Companies list (2017)
• Named to FORTUNE World’s Most Admired Companies list for the 16th year (2018)
• Named by Forbes as one of “America’s Best Large Employers” (2018)
• No. 13 on the National Center for Employee Ownership “Employee Ownership 100” list (2018)
• No. 3 on the Modern Distribution Management Market Leaders list (2018)
• No. 3 on Electrical Wholesaling’s Top 200 Electrical Distributors list (2018)
• Named one of the Top Workplaces in Atlanta, the California Bay Area, St. Louis, Oregon and Southwest Washington (2018)
• On Broadband Communities’ Fiber to the Home Top 100 list (2018)
• Named one of Selling Power’s “Best Companies to Sell For” (2018)
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.