The Role of an
Renovating old classrooms or building new ones can be a daunting task. In Newsletter V2N6, we explored the importance of working with an audiovisual consultant, who can serve as a guide to understanding requirements, work closely with an architect to design architectural infrastructure, design multimedia systems and ensure a quality installation process.
Pure AV design consultants do not sell or install equipment. This role is typically filled by an Audiovisual Integrator. These integrators bid competitively on a consultant produced design specification (a document which details all the equipment and installation requirements of a project.) The successful bidder (chosen based on price, reputation, and quality of bid response) has the responsibility of obtaining and installing equipment.
Once chosen, the integrator will sign a contract with the Client and begin their work. Initially, the integrator will meet with the AV consultant and one or more client representatives to review the overall implementation process, schedule, reporting responsibilities, and expectations.
The installation process includes the following steps:
The specification typically includes all of the equipment necessary to be installed. The integrator places orders for and receives delivery of many, but not necessary all items. It is important to remember that some items may take longer to obtain than others, especially if an item is popular or requires special manufacturing. Thus, sufficient time should be allowed for in the consultant design process to accommodate the procurement of any long-lead items.
Pre-Installation is the process whereby the integrator assembles all of the racks of equipment, and tests them at in-house production facilities, prior to shipping to the final install site. Often times, the consultant will visit the integrator to make sure that the pre-installation is being completed correctly and workmanship meets quality requirements.
Installation occurs when the integrator relocates the pre-tested systems elements to their final location. Additional items that are not rack mounted are also shipped from the distributor or manufacturer to the installation site. Projectors and video monitors typically fall into this category.
In terms of timing, equipment installation should not begin until new construction is materially complete and the room is "broom clean" It is important to furnish the integrator with secure storage to protect the devices until they are installed.
Once on site the integrator completes three tasks:
Installs racks of pre-installed equipment moved from his shop.
Installs other AV equipment elements, such as projectors, monitors, cameras, microphones, speakers, control panels, etc.
Installs all the low voltage wiring (microphone and video cables, speaker wire, control related wiring, etc.), necessary to allow the integrated system to work.
After the equipment is installed it must be tested. Often times, the AV consultant will participate during the testing phase, to ensure the systems work as properly. Systems testing should include the use of appropriate measuring instrumentation, to establish that both specific technical criteria, as well as general operational implementation, have been achieved.
Shakedown and Training
Once systems installation is complete a period of several weeks should be used for shakedown and training. Shakedown refers to the process of discovering any inconsistencies or operational problems which inevitably crop up. These should be brought to the attention of the integrator, and be remedied before the facilities are turned over to the users.
The integrator's responsibilities also include producing instruction manuals for all the equipment, and providing user training. Keep in mind that training should include some train-the-trainer candidates. In this way, tech support personnel and/or more advanced users can train new staff and provide refresher sessions as necessary.
In our next newsletter, we will discuss the pros and cons of working directly with an integrator in a design/build relationship.