How to choose a Fusion Splicer by Zach Yacumakis
We, at IC Logistix deal first-hand with buyers, just like you and we often experience the frustration with clients once it is too late.
The Good Book warns that regret always comes too late and we have seen grown men cry due to bad decision making. Our success is based on our relationships with our clients due to the integrity that we portray towards them. Our brand is our passion!
Fusion Splicers have been around for almost 40 years now and arc fusion splicing plays a pivotal role in the installation of modern fibre networks and FTTH. (Fibre to the Home).
Typical optical fibre is constructed with a core made of doped silica and a cladding made of pure silica, having a less
refractive index than the core. It is then coated with two layers of acrylate material for mechanical and environmental protection. Data, communicated via a laser is transmitted across the core of the fibre. It is received on the other side by a receiver and is typically converted to an analogue signal, i.e. voice, video, internet data, etc. An immediate challenge with the advent of optical fibre was to join the cables with the least data-loss across the splice. Fujikura, a Japanese company, developed the first Optic Fibre Arc Fusion Splicing Machines in the 1970’s.
The Splicing Machine aligns 2 strands of fibre exactly. (The core is typically between 4 and 9 microns for Single
Mode Fibre). Once aligned, it uses a complex algorithm to produce a high voltage arc across two electrodes in order to melt the silica glass together. This process is called Arc Fusion Splicing. A few factors determine the quality of the Fusion Splicer. (The quality of a splice refers to the loss across the splice as well as the life of the splice). These factors include environmental factors like temperature, humidity and altitude, available oxygen as well as safety. For example, splicing deep underground may be impossible due to too high humidity, lack of oxygen or the presence of flammable gasses. Other factors include the continuous quality of the tool, i.e. how well the alignment occurs, the precision of the arc algorithm, the stability of the arc, the proper arc time and the arc voltage.
There are 4 ways to do alignment. Core alignment is the most accurate as it aligns the actual core of the fibre, active V-groove Adaptive Core uses the cladding to determine the logical core of the fibre, thirdly the cladding alignment splicer and lastly the fixed V-groove splicer which does not feature alignment at all.
The first step towards purchasing the correct Fusion Splicer is to determine which type of Fusion Splicer is the right tool for the job at hand and most importantly, for future jobs. It is a piece of cake, if the contractor is doing any type of long-haul, or telecommunications work, stick with a core-alignment splicer. The same applies if the contractor is doing a range of different jobs and they need a splicer that is very versatile and fast. LAN/WAN, Datacentre and Multimode jobs can be done by an Active V-groove Adaptive Core or Cladding alignment splicer. The same applies for FTTx work; however, a portable or hand-held version of these Fusion Splicers are the best solution. Fixed V-groove is good for light duty FTTx work, connectorization, and small jobs or in many cases bought due to budget constraints.
Once you have determined which type of Fusion Splicer will be best for your requirements, the next step is brand name. As with many things in life, cheap is nasty. In the case of splicing machines, cheap can be very nasty. The rule of thumb is to stick to a well-established Japanese brand. Don’t be ignorant. There is only one market leader. When looking at different brands and the salesman indicates that their brand is as good as the world market leader, rather purchase from the market leader. It’s a no-brainer. Companies who compare their product to another product’s success are hiding the inferiority of their brand. Another common incidence is a vendor that blatantly shoots another proven product down. Beware, this guy is downgrading the superior product to their level in order to deceive you. Stay away! Did I mention not to buy cheap? Don’t. We deal with many disappointed customers and they have no way of getting their money back. Stay away from Chinese and Korean Fusion Splicers. These are the cheap and nasty ones. If you don’t know the brand, do not buy it. Remember, a splice machine is an investment and most likely your livelihood. Put your family’s lives in good hands by buying a quality product that can put food on the table for a long time.
Look at warranty periods and possible maintenance plans. Carefully consider service intervals. Make sure that the product is not a grey import. Some vendors will try to deceive you. Grey imported equipment does not carry manufacturers support and this can burn you in a few years when, for instance you need to purchase a new battery for the device. We have dealt with a few very unhappy people in the past. People who bought grey equipment, only to find that the unit arrived faulty. It is very easy to import from India and China; however, it is almost impossible to return something for repairs. Do not expect local agents to assist you once you have bypassed them in the purchase. Unscrupulous vendors do not have rent and staff to pay, thus it is easy for them to sell equipment slightly cheaper in some cases than the local guy. Remember the local guy, if he is the right guy, will look after you properly in the long run.
The next very important factor is after
Tricks that vendors use to convince you to purchase their product include:
- Breaking down of another brand or company. I occasionally phone around to see how other vendors operate. I have come across vendors who start their sales pitch with ‘Oh my gosh, don’t buy this or that brand because it is rubbish. It has so many flaws, etc.’ Run from this guy. He is a liar and he intends to take your money from you.
- Comparing a superior product to theirs. I have sat through technical workshops where the vendor spent all their time comparing every feature of his machine to another superior brand. What a joke. Reverse engineering does not offer the same as millions invested into R&D. Some brands do not even have a R&D department, only a reverse-engineering lab. This is fact.
- Convincing you that because they sell 1000 other products that they are capable of selling you a quality product and offer proper support. If they don’t specialise, stay away.
- The convenience vendor. He convinces you to purchase from him because you are there and he can deliver and it will all be on one invoice, etc. Do your homework. A splice machine is not a toaster. Brand matters!
- The cheaply guy with the big promises. If the product is so very great, then why is it so cheap?
Great brands, like Fujikura and others, offer a range of Fusion Splicers with different features. You will be able to afford a great brand, even with a small budget. Do your homework first before you leap into a bad deal.
Contact us at IC Logistix for proper assistance. If we cannot help you with your specific needs, then we will be able to point you in the right direction, Zach Yacumakis Tel: +27 11 521 2353