Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

Apr 29, 2020

Ron TellasBy Ron Tellas

As we adjust to new ways of living and working amid this global pandemic, an interesting question arises: How will these shifts impact us long term? Will the habits we’ve formed and the new technology we’ve relied on so much over the past few weeks become our new norm? Will COVID-19 serve as a change agent, transforming the way we use technology?

In many ways, recent technology advancements are doing more than changing how we work. They’re helping us adhere to social distancing and stay-at-home orders, keeping non-essential workers at home while those on the frontlines head out every day to help fight this battle. Without our progress toward faster speeds, more bandwidth and applications such as videoconferencing, many of us would be struggling much more than we are to get work done, keep in touch with family, and even keep food delivered to our front door — without having to leave our homes.

This pandemic is also an indicator of how reliant we are on connectivity (or the “fourth utility”). After spending a few months getting used to telemedicine, distance learning and remote work, it’s likely that demand for these types of services will go up as we move forward. People will continue to demand quality, 24/7 connections — even as we slowly return to “normal.”

We’ve pulled together a few examples of how technology usage is rapidly changing specific markets.

How enterprises are changing

In workplaces, telecommuting became more prevalent nearly overnight. Employees who were used to traveling to an office every day have begun to complete their work from home. Frequent travelers are learning to conduct business in new ways.

This sudden shift to remote work and no travel has increased data demands significantly. Instead of attending in-person meetings, for example, workers are relying on platforms like Zoom, Skype and GlobalMeet to communicate and collaborate. According to Bernstein Research, for example, Zoom has already seen more users in the first three months of 2020 than it did in all of 2019.

Because these systems are being used more often, the result is lower throughput. (If you’ve been on spotty conference or video calls lately, you know what we mean) Speeds have decreased and connections are sometimes interrupted because so many more users are demanding data transmission at the same time.

If reliance on these kinds of technology continues, changes will have to be made to IT infrastructure to reliably support large numbers of users while providing clear communication without dropped connections.

How healthcare is changing

To encourage social distancing and keep people safe, many healthcare organizations are encouraging patients to use telemedicine to communicate with clinicians when possible instead of coming in for appointments.

Online healthcare consultation requires infrastructure that can support the tools needed for success. Healthcare networks not only need to be able to support high speeds and more bandwidth as they dive into telemedicine, but also ensure secure connections.

How education is changing

Colleges, K-12 districts and even businesses that house applications within their own facilities (not in the cloud) are experiencing increased strain on networks and VPNs. 

Students and teachers have had to adapt quickly to learning and teaching online instead of communicating face to face in classrooms. Just as with enterprise usage, this shift to online communication and collaboration has boosted the use of videoconferencing platforms in education.

Once we move past COVID-19, online education may become core to schools’ plans for academic continuity in the future. To make this possible, changes will have to be made to IT infrastructure to reliably support large numbers of users while providing clear communication without dropped connections.

How infrastructure is changing

What do these changes mean in terms of the applications these markets use, and the infrastructure they rely on to make it all happen? There are a few emerging trends that could be fast-tracked as a result of COVID-19 as we look toward tomorrow:

• 5G and edge computing. For example, 5G and edge computing could be key to increasing speeds and keeping up with high data demands. Instead of relying on large, centralized data centres, for example, moving compute power to the edge and connecting it through 5G could boost throughput to support telemedicine, distance learning and telecommuting. Although every network is different, one thing will remain true for networks that support 5G: lots of fibre will be needed to support real-time data collection, unlimited bandwidth and higher capacity. The launch of 5G will bring enhanced capacity and lower latency straight to networks. Legacy copper-based infrastructures that have supported connectivity so well for so long may not be able to keep up with 5G bandwidth demands.

• Wi-Fi 6 may also gain faster momentum amid COVID-19, along with Wi-Fi 6E. (Wi-Fi 6E increases the bandwidth available to the full Wi-Fi 6 feature set, creating the next generation of wireless communications and networking found in the 6 GHz band.) Wi-Fi 6 not only improves upon current Wi-Fi features, but also supports higher data rates with peak Gigabit speeds, increased capacity with reduced latency, and high performance levels in dense environments. Trouble-free performance of a Wi-Fi 6 network can only be guaranteed by using a high-performance cabling infrastructure to support it. In the case of Wi-Fi 6, for example, Category 6A cabling is needed for many reasons. It supports data rates up to and including 10GBASE-T for data-intensive applications, is capable of dissipating heat, and has improved thermal performance to handle higher cable temperatures.

What other markets are being impacted by COVID-19? As we come across other ways our industry is shifting amid this pandemic, we’ll continue to keep you informed.

Ron Tellas is a subject matter expert in RF design and electromagnetic propagation. He represents Belden in the ISO WG3 committee, TIA TR42 Premises Cabling Standards, IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Working Group and is a committee member of NFPA 70 Code-Making Panel 3. Ron is the inventor of 16 US patents. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology, and a Master of Business Administration from Purdue University.

This article was first published online by Belden;

CEW market research 400By John Kerr

The past nine weeks have been to say the least a challenge across the electrical industry. From agents to suppliers, from end users to the electrical channel, all have been affected, all have been forced to think differently and all have begun the journey to retooling the way we operate.

This is the third report in our series quantifying and exploring how electrical wholesalers have had to adapt and how they are looking to find a way forward. For this we have taken a different approach from our previous reports in that we have incorporated the results from our recent survey alongside personal interviews and discussions with electrical distributor teams across Canada

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arkest Before the Dawn, Part 2

CEW 9 JK Figure 1 700By John Kerr

I spoke in my previous article about my father’s quote darkest before the dawn. Well, he had another saying clearly brought forward by his growing up in the depression. He would say, “Money is not everything. It just helps,” and at a time like this when there are so many storylines of effort above and beyond the call, and so many initiatives underway by electrical distributors, there will be a rallying right across the country. The electrical distributors are moving, reacting, and more adaptable than ever before. 

The current situation we find ourselves in is to say the least fluid, dynamic and somewhat disconcerting for many, but underlying it is a focused, disciplined approach to addressing the new norm and new reality. Some branches remain closed, some open with minimal staff, and others rotating staff and working differently than ever before.

Recent public reports by Wesco and Rexel have indicated drops approaching 23% through mid April and clearly ones that demonstrated a slowdown from mid March. Our discussions with both distributors and end users/contractors alike confirm their buying and purchasing activity were curtailed more aggressively in early April.

Over 106 electrical distributors responded to our recent survey with 73% from corporate and branch management. 

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Gurvinder ChopraBy Gurvinder Chopra

This June, Canadians will commemorate Electrical Safety Month; June also marks the fourth month of the COVID-19 pandemic national lockdown. For many Canadians, working from home has become the new normal. As confinement continues, the demand for constant power feed to connect to the world we now live, work, and play in at home has grown substantially. Homes are being equipped with new technologies that offer plenty of benefits, but they also place high demand on electrical systems at home, potentially causing serious safety risks. 

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David GordonBy David Gordon

In talking with distributors and manufacturers it is clear that many are actively in the planning and pivoting mode, moving from survivability to thriveability. They’ve stabilized their business financially, emotionally (from a staff viewpoint) and operationally. Now they are looking at “doing business,” and more financially secure ones are identifying ways to take share.

This doesn’t mean that others are not planning and pivoting. Some didn’t miss a beat; others typically don’t do much planning and live in the moment. 

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Building Permits - MarchThe total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities decreased 13.2% to $7.4 billion in March, with declines reported in seven provinces and two territories. The $1.1 billion national decrease was the largest since August 2014. This reflected notable drops in Ontario (-12.9%), Quebec (-18.1%) and British Columbia (-19.4%), which coincided with efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

 Value of residential permits down

The total value of residential permits decreased 13.1% to $4.6 billion in March.

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Changing Scene

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EIN evolve 400As we continue to respond to the changing status with the COVID-19 outbreak, EFC is taking preventative measures to protect conference delegates from any further risks associated with this virus. After much consideration and consultation, the EFC Board has decided to cancel EFC’s Industry Conference in Banff which was rescheduled from late May to September 1 - 3, 2020. This decision was difficult but necessary for the safety of our members, employees, and the community.

One of EFC's key mandates, is to deliver a premier national thought-leadership conference for industry members, partners, and affiliates. 

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Sonepar's Gaurav SharmaA new video featuring Sonepar’s Vice President of eCommerce and Digitalization, Gaurav Sharma, answers COVID-19 related questions regarding Sonepar Canada’s digital solutions, his team, and the future of eCommerce in the electrical wholesale industry.

Among new solutions introduced by Sonepar: customers can now create an online account through a simple text message. Traffic on Sonepar’s website has tripled since the pandemic began, and the number of new accounts has doubled. Many Sonepar locations also feature curbside pick-up.

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Schneider ElectricThe Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Hugo Lafontaine, Vice-President Digital Energy at Schneider Electric Canada. CABA is an international nonprofit industry association that provides information, education and networking to help promote advanced technologies for the automation of homes and buildings.

“We are delighted to welcome Hugo Lafontaine to CABA's Board,” said Ron Zimmer, CABA President & CEO “He brings a stellar background in building systems integration and the building automation market, and a wealth of insight into the digital platforms and solutions that will define smart-building innovations now and into the future.”

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Harold HayesHarold Hayes, a stalwart of the electrical industry, passed away peacefully in Scarborough, Ontario at the age of 90 on May 9, 2020.

Harold joined the industry as an apprentice at age 18, working first for his father’s business, Power Cable Installations, and then for Comstock. Among his later accomplishments, he formed Federal Pioneer Electric’s electric heating division, served as president of the Ontario Electric League in 1985, and while in his 80s consulted for Intellimeter Canada Inc.



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Peers & Profiles

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Sarah SilversteinBlake Marchand

Sarah Silverstein is a principal with Liteline along side her two brothers Mark and Daniel. Together, they lead the company founded by their father, Steve Silverstein, who retired in 2018.

Although she initially pursued a career in outdoor education, Sarah was instrumental in the company’s expansion into architectural lighting and the U.S. market. She joined Liteline as a project manager in between stints working in outdoor education. Now she leads Liteline’s U.S. distribution arm and marketing department.


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