BY JEFF GRIFFIN
LEAVE YOUR MARK
Making labels on the job site can be a time-consuming
task for integrated systems contractors, but it can pay big dividends in
the long run.
“An accurate and complete labeling scheme is essential to every pro-
fessionally installed wire, cable and connection infrastructure, whether a
new data center installation or upgrade of an intelligent building system,
security or alarm system,” said Craig Robinson, RCDD, director, PT-touch
Edge products division at Brother Mobile Solutions.
He said labeling specifications for cable identification and marking
includes legible, machine-generated labels, with all cables and signal
pathways labeled at both ends to simplify bidirectional tracing.
“In addition, all racks, cabinets and other relevant components, such as
cameras, should be clearly labeled,” he said. “Labels should meet the UL
969 specification for legibility, defacement and adhesion, with printing that
resists smears and abrasions and can withstand the effects of moisture,
humidity, UV light, chemicals and solvents, and extremes of heat and cold.
“To meet these requirements and get the best print quality, buyers
should choose thermal label printers that feature an all-in-one, drop-in
cartridge design that makes replacing media fast, easy and hassle-free.”
Selecting the right kind of label tape for each part of the job is critical
for the following reasons:
• Wrapping and flagging wires and cables requires very flexible ID tape
that securely wraps and adheres to itself.
• Standard adhesive tapes are suited for flat, smooth surfaces for control
panels or cabinets.
• Rough, textured or powder-coated surfaces require tapes with extra-
• For special applications, there are tamper-evident tapes that use a
• Specific applications targeting contractors’ needs include flag labeling
face tape that breaks apart if the laminated label is disturbed or re-
moved; some projects specify heat-shrink tubing made of thin, flexible
material that slides over the
wire or cable and shrinks and
adheres firmly when heated.
labeling tools are designed and
engineered to speed and sim-
plify on-site label printing for
every part of the installation,”
Robinson said. “They are ex-
tremely flexible in adapting to a
contractor’s preferred workflow
processes, whatever the project
size and scope. They also allow installers to quickly make on-site ad-
justments for moves, adds and changes. Plus, the tools are compact and
ergonomically designed for ease of use and comfortable operation through-
out the work shift.
“Built-in Wi-Fi, WLAN, Bluetooth and NFC [near-field communication]
capabilities, versatile design templates, plus innovative software apps can
turn every worker’s smartphone or tablet into a powerful design and print
engine,” Robinson said.
Nicole Nelson, global portable systems product manager at Brady, said
alarm, surveillance and building controls contain countless wire, label and
component points that need to be identified and labeled.
“Point-of-use labeling with a portable system is an ideal solution for
lower volume printing with stored files or typed information and with dy-
namic data changes and adjustments for MACs [moves, adds, changes],”
Nelson said. “Cable-management software is a key tool that allows for
quicker tracking of the cables, diagnosis and maintenance, as well as easy
documentation of infrastructure, including connections between horizontal
and backbone cables, hardware, assets, pathways, locations, users and
“Labeling software allows Excel to be imported to simplify data transfer
and manage the physical network by creating and printing identifiers and
documents and generating reports,” she said.
Nelson cited several recent advances in the labeling process:
and breaker box apps and wire gauge apps that are often included in
the printer menu options.
• Demographic changes in the workforce with growing numbers of young-
er technicians have driven incorporation of QWERTY keypad interface
rather than the ABC keypad.
• Many handheld printers use rechargeable batteries that have a long
life, reducing costs and improving production.
• Wireless interfaces connect to the main software systems or mobile apps.
• Many cartridges for handheld and portable devices include the ribbon
or the menu and interface to recognize the material loaded and will tell
the user which ribbon is needed.
Brother P-touch Edge
maker and tablet
Brady BMP21-Plus label printer