Very often I am asked to consult on what can be done to ensure AV facilities remain “operational” and ready to use by the various business groups that utilize the AV facilities.
Stable AV systems begin with good systems design, proper assembly, and a clean installation. This should be followed by a thorough checkout, testing and commissioning of the AV systems prior to turnover and being placed into operation. But these are all topics for another article. For now, let’s just assume that all the conditions listed above were in fact properly completed. Yes, I know a silly assumption in most other cases.
The easiest and most sure fire way to ensure operational functionality and stability in an AV system is to conduct daily room checkouts. It’s that simple. The hard part is usually putting together the “plan” for room checkout which should include implementing, documenting, reporting and in some cases, repairing or taking off-line faulty systems.
A daily AV room checkout is not meant to be a full re-commissioning of the AV system – instead it is meant to be a thorough inspection and testing of all AV functionality. A detailed checklist must be created, specific to each AV facility and which needs to be followed and completed during each daily inspection.
Take a basic classroom system, the checklist for the checkout could be as simple as this:
1. Visual inspection of all equipment
2. System Power ON
3. Lectern microphone working
4. Wireless lavaliere microphone working
5. Volume control working
5. PC display w/ audio working
6. Laptop w/ audio working
7. Cable TV working
8. DVD working
9. Volume control working
9. Audio conference working (inbound and outbound)
10. Videoconferencing working (inbound and outbound)
11. All near end / far end camera switching working
12. People & content sharing working
13. Volume control working
14. All touch panel (or other) control functions working properly
15. System OFF
Yes, every AV function needs to be tested.
If you are thinking – huh? Who has time for all of this? If the system was working yesterday afternoon why do I need to check it out again this morning? Or the best misnomer – Why check it out if it’s not broken? Well then, let me tell you something — I’m a pilot. Yup, I fly small airplanes. Each and every time I fly I must “checkout” my aircraft. I use a detailed checklist which was developed by the aircraft manufacturer to checkout and inspect the wings, flaps, fuselage, landing gear, wheels, tail, rudder, doors – and oh yes, oil and gas. All of this is inspected prior to me climbing into the pilot’s seat. Once inside the plane, I flip through the pages of my checklist and begin the interior inspection and “testing” of the aircraft. Methodically, I start the engine and see that everything looks “normal”, including all gauges, instruments, radios, lights, etc.
Please note: the aircraft hasn’t moved a foot yet.
What follows is the taxi to the runway – but before I can takeoff, I taxi the aircraft into the “run up area” where I then point the plane into the wind and throttle up the engine. While the engine is throttled up I must again check power, rpm’s, suction, pressure, oil temperature and magnetos. Throttle back and next is a full check of all mechanical aircraft controls of the wings, flaps, aerolons and rudder. Now I’m ready to takeoff.
I wouldn’t THINK of flying an aircraft without ensuring a detailed checkout of my “systems”.
Flying an AV system should be no different. It needs to be checked out daily to ensure its proper operation.
So, the morale of this story is simple—check your AV systems on a daily basis and you will be good to fly another day.
Christopher J. Maione, CTS-D, is the president of Christopher Maione Associates, providing global audiovisual expertise. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.