You Find It. You Own It.
This defines ownership: “purchase it with money, trade it for other property, receive it as a gift, steal it, find it, make it, or homestead it.”
How does this translate to copper cable fault locating?
When you locate and “find” a trouble location in the cable, you “own” it. I know I won’t win any popularity contests with this article, but stick with me and together we’ll learn how to take ownership of the fault you find. And yes, you will still meet the company’s standards.
But, It’s Not MY Fault
Years ago, I worked with a maintenance splicer, Steve, who had been a “C” splicer. I worked with him on an aerial lead along the coast in San Clemente, California, helping him isolate some trouble locations. It was a cable rehab job. We found 8 locations, all in the old “49A” type closures.
The cable went from a 200 pair cable to a 100 pair cable then to a 50 pair cable. All the cable was 26-gauge air-core Plastic Insulated Conductors (PIC).
Steve determined that we could rebuild all 8 splices, and fix the transpositions and open cable pairs, and place new closures, and still be finished by 4:30 P.M.
Coming from an estimate splicing background, I was doubtful. Steve calculated that if he started from the end and I started at the first splice, we could complete the task working together. As we began, he said, “I found it, I own it.” And he did. We completed all 8 splices a little after 4:30 P.M.
Up until that point in time, I would fix my pair and write up the splice and move on. Not anymore.
From that day forward, unless the splice was too large to tackle, I rebuilt every splice I “touched” and still maintained a satisfactory rating for efficiency. I wasn’t the best splicer in the yard; I considered myself just average.
Steve, too, managed to influence half of his crew to do the same thing over several years. We both believe it is the right thing to do.
6 Steps to Make the Philosophy Shift
So how can you “Own It” and still meet the numbers?
Step 1: Get the right “stuff.” You don’t need to clutter your truck with useless supplies. Stock up with enough to complete 4 splices on the truck (4 closures) and enough modules to complete a 600 pair cable splice. Bonds, cable ties, etc. -- just enough.
For the average demand splicer this could last a week. Piece out modules help, but lengths vary.
Step 2: Organize your truck so you can find what you need quickly. Nothing slows you down more than looking all day for that one part.
Step 3: Keep the right tools. Every splicer has broken, badly worn, or older tools that have no applications anymore on their trucks. Outfit yourself with the right tools for the technology you are working with.
Step 4: Get the big picture in terms of job planning. I can’t stress this enough. Rebuilding a 50 pair splice that is full of corrosion will have a long-term effect on quality service, and it will affect your efficiency for a long time to come. Job planning is not just for the action at hand, but also for the reaction years down the road. Cable pairs are revenue.
Step 5: Make it personal. Treat each customer report as if they were your own grandmother. The last person you want to have phone trouble is your grandmother. Treat everyone just like her, and you will see an amazing change in each trouble ticket you touch.
Step 6: Attitude. Change your attitude about the task at hand. You have stock in the company you work for, and you wear a branded shirt for that company, and the wages put your kids through college. It’s not just the company’s copper cable, it’s also your copper cable. You have a vested interest in it. Treat it as if it’s your own.
The Greater Good
Remember, you own that cable -- the good, the bad, and the ugly in it. Once you take ownership, you will see a difference in the quality of your copper cable. Take care of it, and it will take care of you and your future.
Oh, by the way, 20 years later, the San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano area is one of the least troublesome areas in Orange County. It’s due to the crew taking ownership of the cable and treating it as if they held title deed to it. Best group of splicers I ever worked with. Now wouldn’t you like to say the same about the crew you work with?
You can! Take ownership!
Editor’s Note: This article is the first in a 6-part series. Get ready to read up on these topics in upcoming issues of OSP® magazine:
• How to Approach Cable Trouble. You don’t have to sneak up on it. And you don’t need to rush at it.
• Do the Math Geographically. Sometimes the trouble can be found by just using basic math, a forgotten art of addition and multiplication.
• How to Use Everything in the Tool Box. Ever wonder why you climb the same pole twice or more? Let’s figure out how to stop that behavior.
• How to Rely on One Reading. Can you find the trouble by taking just one simple reading? Often you can. Techs 30 years ago did with less than you have; you can do it today.
• The Finished Product. Splicers used to leave their signature on a splice, a symbol of pride. Today’s splicers should have the same pride.
Tim Francis is a retired AT&T Manager. He spent 18 years in Cable Maintenance and Construction Splicing, and 10 years in management. After retirement, Tim spent 5 years as a contract instructor for AT&T’s Center for Learning, teaching fault locating, grounding and bonding, and cable splicing. He is currently an engineer for Westek Electronics. Tim can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Westek Electronics, visit www.westek.com.
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