Unlocking the Secrets of Fiber Optic Testing: Ensuring Data Center Performance
In my previous blogs, I delved into the critical aspects of connector cleanliness and fiber connector geometry and their profound impact on cable performance. In this installment, we shift our focus to the fascinating realm of fiber optic testing. I won't dive into the nitty-gritty of connector testing methods; instead, I'll offer you a glimpse into the testing process and its pivotal role in meeting the ever-evolving demands of today's data centers.
Within the industry, there's a wealth of information on testing methods available through organizations like TIA. However, what truly matters is what you aim to achieve with your test results and how they influence your data center installation and project loss budgets.
My journey into Fiber Optics Testing began in the early 2000s when I was tasked with selecting equipment for our manufacturing process. Back then, I introduced Rifocs Multi-channel Testing and Exfo IQS systems, known as the gold standard in the market. We needed to perform both single-mode and multimode testing, and these units proved to be exceptional. I ultimately acquired both and successfully used them to test single fiber cables and MTP multifiber cables for numerous customers.
Today, we rely on Viavi Multifiber MAP systems for both single-mode and multimode testing. These systems are user-friendly and excel in pinpointing defects in both channels and connectors. This simplifies the testing process, revolutionizing our approach compared to earlier, more complex methods.
We also employ Optotest/Santec systems for Single Channel Testing, giving our Quality Assurance Team the agility to meet increasing demands. Our QA Team undergoes rigorous training over 90 days to fully grasp the "what, when, and how" of testing fiber optic cables. The ability to interpret testing data expedites problem diagnosis and resolution.
As the global expansion of data centers and the surge in Edge Data center requirements for 5G operations drive a higher demand for high-speed bandwidth, project loss budgets have shrunk. Achieving loss requirements as low as 0.15 dB per connector is now the norm.
To attain this level of precision, it's imperative to validate your reference cables continuously. We rely on Telcordia GR-326-CORE as the foundation for our reference cables. Even after cleaning and repair, they must undergo meticulous checks before testing our manufactured cable products. I discovered that reference cables are the linchpin of testing performance, and neglecting their cleanliness can derail the entire process.
In 2001, we pioneered a non-contact cleaning solution for MTP/MPO connectors, a breakthrough that saved our process and underscored the importance of reference cable care. Every reference cable is marked and replaced when it reaches its designated limits. We also validate, repair, or replace installation teams' reference cables as needed to ensure smooth project execution.
Reference cables are just as vital to installation success as the testing process. Subpar reference cables can impede progress, jeopardize project timelines, and erode trust between manufacturer and customer.
We've also contemplated sample or batch testing as a cost-saving measure given our industry-leading manufacturing process. However, our commitment to quality is unwavering. We adhere to a simple mission: "Say What We Do and Do What We Say." That's why we test every channel we produce, ensuring that when our cables enter our customers' data centers, they meet their requirements right from our Texas manufacturing facility.
While testing fiber optic cables may no longer resemble brain surgery, comprehending your testing data remains paramount. Trust in your manufacturing process defines how these cables will perform. Cable performance hinges on the precision of fiber installation and polishing during manufacturing, with testing serving as the ultimate validation of each step.
In my role in quality assurance, my task is straightforward: equip our team with the right tools and empower them to leverage their knowledge and skills daily. With our exceptional team in place, when you choose DCS cables, you can rest assured you'll receive precisely what you requested. Contact us today to learn more about the intricacies of testing and channel performance. Your data center's success depends on it.