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How to Save Time & Money with Gamma RF Weatherproofing

by | Jun 4, 2020 | Cable Protection, Gamma Electronics, Telecommunications, WISP | 0 comments

When selecting RF Weatherproofing one of the most important aspects to consider is install time/ease of install.  To some an easier install might sound like an added bonus but in truth, when you do the math, it should be a priority.  The impact that a faster and easier installation has should only be considered behind factors like weatherproofing performance, (learn more about 8 things to consider when choosing RF weatherproofing here).

Save Time & Money with Gamma RF Weatherproofing

Before going further we want to make clear that reducing maintenance should be your top priority when selecting RF Weatherproofing.  We dedicated a post to this very topic because truly, when you choose RF Weatherproofing that reduces maintenenance it will improve your bottom line.  With that said, there’s good reason to make installation time a secondary factor when choosing RF Weatherproofing as the numbers below illustrate.

Cold Shrink vs. Tape & Butyl

For the purposes of this blog post we will largely be comparing the install times of Gamma Cold Shrink versus Tape & Butyl.  Tape & Butyl is still being used fairly actively in a number of RF applications and was an easy measuring stick for our team to compare to when collecting data from contractors about install times.  The numbers for Gamma Cold Shrink used below are also true for our Slide Locks and Weatherproof Boots.

For anyone unfamiliar with the Tape & Butyl method of weatherproofing it typically requires a layer of tape, (most often electrical tape), being wrapped around a connection followed by a thick layer of butyl, a thick clay-like material that is applied over the tape.  Finally another layer of tape is placed over the butyl to help hold it in place.

Most contractors we talked to, (about 50), told us this process takes on average about 5-10 minutes per connection.  A number of contractors said that number easily goes higher, (15-20 minutes), in more difficult weather/install scenarios.

Gamma Cold Shrink on the other hand installs in less than a minute.  Want proof?  Check out our video showing Gamma Cold Shrink being installed in less than 15 seconds.

Gamma Cold Shrink is, at minimum, 5 times faster than Tape & Butyl

With Tape & Butyl we’re looking at an install time of at least 5 minutes whereas with Gamma Silicone Cold Shrink it’s an install time of 1 minute, maximum.  In other words, Gamma Cold Shrink is, at minimum, 5 times faster than Tape & Butyl.

Real World Application

The difference between Cold Shrink install times and Tape & Butyl install times is significant, but what does that mean in real world applications?

Let’s start with an easy example.  Let’s say your installing 5 new cables, which amounts to 10 connections that need weatherproofing, (2 connections per cable).  If you’re using Cold Shrink the install time would max out at 10 minutes, (1 minute per Cold Shrink installation).  Tape & Butyl on the other hand would, at the fastest time of 5 minutes per connection, take a minimum of 50 minutes.  It’s more likely that Tape & Butyl takes closer to 2 hours with the possibility of it taking 3-4 hours.  And that’s for just 5 cables, (10 connections).

So in this example Cold Shrink, at its worst, takes 10 minutes to install while Tape & Butyl, at its best, takes 50 minutes on the same number of connections. 

Cold Shrink Install Time x 10 Connections Compared
1 min/connection = 10 minutes
Tape & Butyl Install Times x 10 Connections Compared
5 min/connection (fastest) = 50 minutes
10 min/connection (average) = 2 hours
15 min/connection (slow) = 3-4 hours

A typical telecom tower installation has about 35-60 cables, or 70-120 connections, all of which need weatherproofing.  We compared installation times at 100 connections, which is pretty close to the average number (95) and makes the math easy.  

To start, we did a comparison of installing Cold Shrink on 100 connections at 1 minute per piece of Cold Shrink, versus Tape & Butyl at it’s fastest install time of 5 minutes, (per connection).

Even at it’s fastest time of 5 minute per install, tape & butyl still adds up to a full day worth of work.  Cold Shrink on the other hand cuts down your install time to under 2 hours, and that’s at it’s maximum install time.  In the graph above we’re essentially comparing Cold Shrink at it’s worst versus Tape & Butyl at it’s best and even given those circumstances the cold shrink is far and away the better choice.  Gamma Cold Shrink will save you hours if not days of time, as can be seen in the graph below.

This graph shows the more likely scenarios for Tape & Butyl install times.  5 minutes remains the best case scenario for Tape & Butyl install times, with 10 minutes being more likely, (average), and 15 minutes on the longer side.  We did talk to a number of contractors who told us that in some circumstances tape & butyl installs can get as high as 20 minutes/install, (not shown on the graph).

Here’s a different way to digest the information in the graph above:

Tape & Butyl Install Times x 100 Connections
5 min/connection (fastest) = 8+ hours (1 full working day)
10 min/connection (average) = 16+ hours (2+ full working days)
15 min/connection (slow) = 25 hours (3+ working days)

Does Tape & Butyl Really Take that Long to Install?

Yes, and for a few different reasons.

First off, the Tape & Butyl install process is multiple steps.  It’s tape, butyl, and more tape.  The nature of that install requires switching from one task to another and is going to require more time.

Secondly, Tape & Butyl is very difficult to install in tight spaces, which are only becoming tighter.  Connections are close to one another and when you attach cables to them you have even less space to work with.  To get around each connection and fully wrap it in tape is especially problematic as you run into other cables.  Experienced installers will take the tape and wrap it on a screwdriver which becomes an installation tool as they pull the screwdriver in circles around the cable, wrapping the connection.  Now imagine doing that once, followed by applying the butyl, and then another layer of tape.  It’s time consuming.

Remote Radio Unit Accessibility

A remote radio unit which has less than 1 inch between connections before having a cable/connector or weatherproofing installed.

To be completely fair we had a couple installers say that a 5 minute install isn’t that bad.  It might be easy to write that off if you’re only doing a couple of connections.  However, a 5 minute install time is at least 5 times longer than Cold Shrink install time.  Let that sink in: at least 5 times longer.  In all likelihood, it’s closer to 10 times longer.  Get beyond a couple of connections and as llustrated in the charts above, time spent installing adds up very quickly.

Tape & Butyl Weatherproofing Cut Open
Tape & Butyl Weatherproofing Cut Open

Save Time & Money

If you’re paying contractors by the hour the cost savings of Gamma Cold Shrink is obvious, especially if you have a higher number of connections to weatherproof.  You could cut hours if not days off installation time and vastly reduce expenses.

We know however that most contractors are paid by project and not by hour.  In these scenarios a faster weatherproofing solution, like Gamma Cold Shrink, makes even more sense.  We constantly hear about the high volume of work coming from the large telecom companies and that towers can’t go up quickly enough.  Better weatherproofing is an easy way to get towers and networks up and running faster, and getting one project done sooner means contractors are onto the next project more quickly.

For example, imagine jobs that usually take 5 days now only take 4 when using Gamma RF weatherproofing.  Let’s assume the contractors are following a 5 day workweek, or 20 working days in the average month.  Previously contractors would be able to get one tower up and running per week.  With Gamma RF weatherproofing however it now becomes 5 towers in the same amount of time.

Tower Installation Time of 5 Days
(Tape & Butyl)

1 Tower = 5 Days

1 Tower = 5 Days

1 Tower = 5 Days

1 Tower = 5 Days

4 Towers in 20 Days
Tower Installation Time of 4 Days
(Gamma Cold Shrink)

1 Tower = 4 Days

1 Tower = 4 Days

1 Tower = 4 Days

1 Tower = 4 Days

1 Tower = 4 Days

5 Towers in 20 Days

More towers in the same amount of time by simply using easier to install/faster weatherproofing?  The cost of the weatherproofing would have to be astronomical for it to not be cost effective, (which it isn’t).  All this and we’ve barely even touched the topic of how better RF weatherproofing vastly cuts down on maintenance costs as well.

Save Time & Money

As the old saying goes, “time is money,” and tape & butyl does little to nothing in terms of saving you time.  Some will still opt to use tape & butyl because quite frankly, it’s cheap, but it is very rare for tape & butyl to produce a good return on investment.  As another old saying goes, “you get what you pay for.”

When you combine the installation time savings as well as the reduced maintenance costs that come with  solutions like Gamma Cold Shrink, the choice is obvious.  Additionally, our Slide Locks and Weatherproof Boots are also IP68 rated and are able to provide you with the same installation results illustrated with the Cold Shrink above.

In a time where networks can’t get up and running fast enough there is one small change that can be done to help you get your network up and running hours if not days sooner, and that is by upgrading to Gamma RF weatherproofing.

Get 3 for $15

Get 3 samples of Gamma RF Weatherproofing for only $15, inclduing shipping.

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