A major automobile manufacturing facility in rural East Liberty, Ohio required state-of-the-art wireless connectivity. At almost three million square feet, the campus encompasses two counties.
Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) allow enterprise customers to build network infrastructure inside their facilities that enhances signals from wireless service providers, enabling cell phones and other devices to have seamless wireless coverage.
The sheer size of the facility and complex nature of the manufacturing machinery and processes made this DAS installation challenging for design and engineering as well as build out. After having several major integrators bid the project with unsatisfactory results, the manufacturer turned to Graybar, already trusted by their IT department, to take on the role of general contractor for the project.
HOW GRAYBAR HELPED
To design the project, Graybar used its connections with Notora, a national leader in DAS and small cell engineering. Graybar and Notora had already worked together on DAS projects from coast to coast. The proven process that resulted from their collaboration met the customer’s requirements for cost effectiveness, transparency and speed of installation. As a plus, with the iBwave design provided by Notora, the system was fully upgradable to 5G.
“Notora is vendor agnostic,” said Eric Winigman, Graybar Manager Comm Data Business. “They find the best solution and assist the end user with selecting the OEM based on what the customer needs rather than what the installing contractor wants to sell them.”
For this project, Corning SpiderCloud was chosen as the DAS solution. In addition to meeting customer needs for a robust DAS infrastructure, Corning SpiderCloud helped save valuable time.
“Negotiations with carriers to bring signal source can take 12 to 18 months. The sources are preapproved on the front end for three of the four major wireless carriers with Corning SpiderCloud. This saves the customer considerable time, headaches and, potentially, money,” said Marc Knapp, Notora Co-Founder, Vice President of Sales.
For installation, Graybar reached out to Gudenkauf, a diversified telecommunications and utility firm. Gudenkauf had worked with Graybar as well as the auto manufacturer for many years, making them a trusted choice for this complex build out.
“Working at large manufacturing facilities adds a whole element of difficulty,” said Mark Jackson, Gudenkauf Division Manager. “There were finite times when we could get out on the production floor. A lot of rules needed to be followed. Safety was of the utmost importance. Graybar did a great job of coordination. While we had an aggressive schedule and a big build, everyone took time to do it the right way.”
The project began in November 2018 and was completed on time in July 2019.
“Communication, communication, communication,” said Eric about the process that brought this challenging job in on time and on budget. “Everyone did an excellent job. To accommodate facility needs and the production schedule, the crew was pulling fiber and hanging antennas throughout the plant beginning at one o'clock in the morning and on weekends.”
In addition to daily walkthroughs, weekly meetings were held with the customer to coordinate all activity. Delivery dates were managed so they didn’t interfere with activity at the plant. At times, the design had to be modified to accommodate installation needs. Notora worked with Graybar and Gudenkauf to modify the design and re-run analytics to keep the project on track.
“Everybody played their role as a nice little symphony,” said Marc. “Flexibility is a big benefit to working with Graybar. They structure projects the way they need to be structured to be successful for the customer. I've never experienced anything from Graybar even remotely close to cutting corners.”
The customer was so satisfied by the process, they assigned several more projects to Graybar for DAS installations at other plants.