Autumn 2021 - Optical Connections Magazine


not all technicians are trained in the process. A common mistake is using inspection and cleaning as a troubleshooting process when networks are not running as they should. However, by this stage, the contamination has already degraded the connectivity. The cost to train the workforce in the simple procedure of ‘inspect-clean-inspect’ and for it to be standard operating procedure is significantly less than the cost of technicians getting called back to identify, repair and clean any faulty splices and connectors. WHAT SHOULD TECHNICIANS KNOW? Pro-active training in the cleaning and inspection of fibre optics and the importance of following standards like those outlined in IEC 61300-3- 35 is key to the reliable connectivity of 5G networks. It can take place through online courses, but perhaps the most effective way to understand the process is to combine certified classroom learning with practical ‘on the job’ training. This blend of training helps ensure technicians follow cleaning standards in accordance with specified benchmarks. It also allows them to see first-hand how to use the tools correctly to ensure successful cleaning. The correct tools are essential to effective fibre cleaning. Every technician should be well-versed with what is in their cleaning toolbox and how to use it. Every fibre engineer should carry with them: • A fast-drying, non-flammable optical

network interference or failure. Because microscopic dust particles are often the concern, a quick wipe of a fibre ferrule on a shirt sleeve, or blowing dust from a connector, is not going to cut it. The deployment of 5G networks will only be successful if there is a skilled workforce who understands the importance of cleaning and the correct way in which to carry out the process. SKILLED FIBRE TECHNICIANS To achieve next-generation connectivity, existing infrastructure and new networks under construction must be in good order and working perfectly to deliver the data essential for IoT success. New and denser fibre infrastructure is being added to deliver the performance needed for 5G’s goal of high data rates, increased speed and improved reliability. To help attain this objective fibre, whether new or existing, must be spotlessly clean. Training technicians, whether new to the job, or up-skilling an existing workforce relies on ensuring the correct cleaning processes and methodology is met. Working to the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61300-3-35 guideline, which specifies pass/fail requirements for end face quality inspection before connection is very important. IEC standards were developed to guide the fibre optic industry in determining what kind of contaminants could be on the ferrule end face and how to clean them effectively. It is recommended that the 61300-3-35 standard should be proactively taught and followed at all times. One of the best ways to meet the IEC standard is to use fibre optic cleaning tools, fluids and methods engineered specifically for fibre optic cleaning applications. Better cleaning tools and procedures allow network installers to clean quickly and thoroughly, saving time and money on both the initial 5G fibre network installation and any subsequent network repairs or maintenance. Fibre technicians must understand the importance of inspecting each and every end face after cleaning and before mating to ensure any contaminant is removed. If it is not removed it will cause cross-contamination of the two-ferrule end

It is important to know how to use fibre cleaning tools correctly

end faces prior to cleaning to identify the type and amount of contamination. By understanding the contamination, it helps installers determine which cleaning technique and tools are appropriate to remove it. Second, wet/dry clean the fibre end faces with an engineered fibre cleaning fluid to remove any contaminants. The cleaning fluid should be static dissipative to help eliminate triboelectric charges that attract dust particles and cause them to stick to a connector end faces. Finally, after cleaning, re-inspect the end faces to confirm the contaminant is removed and the end faces meet the IEC 61300-3-35 cleanliness standard. FUTURE-PROOF CONNECTIVITY THROUGH TRAINING The increasing use of IoT and the massive amount of data produced by these connected devices requires huge bandwidth. This calls for reliable 5G connectivity. For consistent trouble-free fibre optic networks, cleaning must be a priority. Whether installing a new fibre network or maintaining an existing one, improving skills and knowledge in cleaning techniques and how to meet IEC standards helps in delivering the connectivity needed for the increasing adoption of IoT devices. Jay Tourigny is Senior Vice President at MicroCare, LLC, which offers Sticklers™ brand fibre cleaning solutions. He has been in the industry more than 30 years and holds numerous U.S. patents for cleaning-related products that are used on a daily basis in fibre optic, medical and precision cleaning applications. For more information, visit

grade cleaning fluid stored in a hermetically-sealed container

• Lint-free optical-grade cleaning wipes • Single-use connector cleaning sticks • Mechanical clicker type cleaners • Fibre optic inspection scope It is important to know how to use all of these fibre cleaning tools correctly. If used improperly, they can cause more harm than good. Every technician should know the ‘inspect, clean, inspect’ cleaning technique. First, inspect the

faces, disrupting the optical signal path. If ‘dirt’ remains in the contact zone and is not cleaned, there it could damage both connector end faces. This is why IEC 61300- 3-35 instructs installers to always inspect the connector end face, clean to remove contamination and re-inspect the ferrules. It takes just seconds to inspect and clean fibre for accurate analysis and yet

A combination of certified classroom learning and practical ‘on the job’ training help create a skilled fibre installation workforce


ISSUE 25 | Q3 2021

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