Case Studies

PBX Contamination

J.S. Held’s Inaugural Global Risk Report Examines Potential Business Risks & Opportunities in 2024

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The Situation

A large office complex suffered contamination due to the collapse of an adjacent 40-story building. The company occupying the contaminated building retained an outside consulting firm to assess their telephone system for possible damage and to provide recommendations. The outside consulting firm reported that the telephone system was contaminated by the building collapse and required replacement due to long term reliability issues caused by impurities from the building collapse. The firm then presented a $35 million purchase order to replace the telephone system and handsets.

How We Advised

J.S. Held’s Equipment Consulting Practice was retained to assess the telephone system and advise whether the system required replacement due to the incident. J.S. Held inspected the telephone system with the company and the outside consulting firm and confirmed that a thick layer of dry, gray dust (impurities) was present throughout the interior of the system. However, we did not know if these impurities were corrosive (harmful) and did not know if the impurities were from the aforementioned building collapse. Thus, we turned to science to provide the answers. We collected wipe samples from inside the system for ion chromatography analysis, bulk samples of the impurities inside the system, and bulk samples of the building collapse debris for energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) analysis. The analytical tests demonstrated the following:

  • The impurities were not corrosive and possessed no risk to the equipment.
  • As shown in the charts below, the EDX analysis demonstrated that the impurities inside the telephone system (Spectrum 2) did not have the same elemental makeup (“fingerprint”) as the debris from the building collapse (Spectrum 1).
Spectrum 1: Elemental Analysis of Loss-Related Contaminants
Spectrum 2: Elemental Analysis of Impurities Within PBX. Impurities Determined to be Normal Working Dust.
  • The scientific (analytical tests) clearly demonstrated the equipment was not at risk from the impurities inside the system, and, more importantly, the impurities inside the telephone system were not from the building collapse. As such, the company withdrew the claim to replace telephone system.

Key Contact

Scott Armstrong
Executive Vice President | Practice Lead
Equipment Consulting Practice
+1 949 390 7483
[email protected]

Related Practice Areas

> Equipment Consulting - Telecommunications
J.S. Held’s telecommunications experts evaluate a wide variety of telecom components including network gear, CATV systems, and broadcast transmission systems. We deliver objective and independent analyses on telecommunications matters based on years of industry experience, technical expertise, and market knowledge.

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