Julian, West Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources is a leading global coal company and the world’s third largest metallurgical coal supplier. In 2013, it opened up the Running Right Leadership Academy, an education facility and comprehensive training ground for safety and operational excellence for up to 300 people.
Through partnerships with world-class institutions like Virginia Tech, West Virginia University, and the University of Utah, it offers a curriculum that includes technical skills, safety, and leadership. It includes a mine lab with 96,000 square feet that simulates real mine situations and conditions; a virtual reality lab with simulators to provide training on a continuous mining machine, roof bolter, scoop and haul truck; multiple labs for electrical, maintenance and welding training; facilities and equipment for supervisory leadership skills training; and a command center for mine rescue and emergency preparedness training.
When Alpha decided to open up its Running Right Leadership Academy, it knew it would need a robust control system to handle the vast amount of equipment that would be required for its new facility.
The new 136,000-square-foot training facility was outfitted with four large partitioned and modular lecture halls that would be combinable, a variety of combining classrooms, a theater, an underground mine simulator and a mobile command facility. Among the large requirements list, the Academy would need a control system sturdy enough to control the projectors, screens and audio in modifiable rooms, and intuitive enough for users of different technology capabilities to operate. At the top of the list, these systems needed to be able to interface with and control multiple manufacturers’ products.
Creative Audio Visual Group, (creativeavgroup.com) a leading solutions provider that furnishes design, engineering and audio/visual integration services, was tasked with installing and programming the control system. He chose 15 FLEX-LT self-contained control systems from FSR with a wide range of features and an affordable price point. The FLEX-LT system can be mounted on a wall or placed on a desk. Its easy-to-use and understand color touch screen allows the user to choose which source is being displayed and control it, change the volume, turn lights on and off, raise or lower the shades or screen and more.
Alpha’s new 136,000-square-foot training facility includes four large partitioned and modular lecture halls that are combinable, a variety of flexible classrooms, a theater, an underground mine simulator, and a mobile command facility. These features are just what the Academy needed, since the control system would need to manage 110 Bose speakers and Bose networked configurable amps, program drop-down screens, turn on/off projectors, control doc cameras, DVD players, wireless mics, switch source and volume, and more, all on a networked scheduling system.
In addition to using the 15 FLEX-LT systems, Carroll chose the FLEX control manager iPad app to allow for remote control of the equipment from afar, as well.
The modular classrooms and lecture halls presented a challenge. The four partitioned rooms needed to be controlled individually when separated, and as two rooms when the partition would be removed. The furniture also needed to be movable based on the configurations necessary for the programs being presented. The control systems could not simply be embedded into the podium (although that certainly would have made it easy for presenters) but also on the walls so that they worked when the rooms were modified.
PLAYING WELL WITH OTHERS
Reliability was a major concern since some spaces were to be in-use 24/7. Being a small company and not tied to a specific manufacturer’s solution, Creative Audio Visual Group found that the FSR FLEX-LT control system could “play well” with other manufacturer’s product and was easily programmable. It was also robust enough to control the AV equipment that had been chosen for the job.
“The FLEX was a great fit,” says Carroll. “We found that there was great support from FSR when programming the FLEX, and that we were able to customize it to do what we wanted without much fuss. Aside from it being able to control other manufacturer’s products, the training associated with the handoff to the end user was minimal.”
Carroll was also pleased that training was kept to a minimum. “The goal when handing off a system like this is that it had to be as simple as possible, and we had to set it up right and make it easy for the end user.”
The Academy would have only one person on staff to oversee the day-to-day operations of AV and IT, trained to troubleshoot any issues and use the iPad app to monitor the systems in the building.
Carroll explains that based on feedback from The Academy, “they really like the systems. They are reliable, intuitive and work well. They have an older building with unreliable equipment and they actually called us back to quote the Flex control systems in that location as well.”
KEY ELEMENTS / / / FOR THE END-USER
EASE OF USE: Through the touch screen the user can choose what source is being displayed, change the volume, control the various sources, turn lights on and off, raise or lower the shades or screen and much more.
RELIABILITY: “The FLEX was a great fit. We found that there was great support from FSR when programming the FLEX, and that we were able to customize it to do what we wanted without much fuss. Aside from it being able to control other manufacturer’s products, the training associated with the handoff to the end user was minimal.”
—Mike Carroll, Creative Audio Visual Group
AV Equipment List
• 15 FSR FLEX-LT systems
• FSR FLEX control manager iPad app for remote control of the equipment
• 110 Bose speakers
• Bose networked configurable amps
• Projectors & drop-down screens
• Document cameras
• DVD players
• Wireless mics, switch source and volume, and more, all on a networked scheduling system.