Audiovisual Reality: Triumph From Past Failures

Welcome to the fifth installment of our saga. We've been following a fast-tracked AV project for a high-tech Silicon Valley venture capital firm called Ingenious Partners. The last edition of Audiovisual Reality covered vaporware. This time, we are going to cover the installation process as a form of tribute to installers everywhere.

In my years of consulting, I have been lucky enough to encounter a plethora of different installation challenges. I've have also been lucky enough to have experienced triumphs and failures. The triumphs are great, but the failures are even better. Why would one appreciate failures?

The answer is because you can learn more from failures than from triumphs. In general, I tend to feel like I have failed when an installer in the field has to make miracles happen to make a product fit or function properly. At Ingenious Partners everything ended up fitting properly, but the equipment room was somewhat of a challenge. It looked to me as if we were going to need at least two full-height equipment racks. Having learned from previous failures, I knew that if I didn't help the architect design the AV equipment room properly, there would be some INET Media installers that would want to have my head on a stick.

Thankfully, we positioned the equipment racks such that we could use sliding racks from Middle Atlantic to grant installers easy access to the front and rear of the gear. There was, however, one small problem. The positioning of the racks made it such that when they were expanded, it would block access to the room itself. There was no other alternative though, so I had a slight "pow-wow" with INET Media's installers. I said, "Guys, there's nothing else we can do, are you OK with this?" INET's can-do installers looked at some drawings with me, and quickly agreed that we had done the best that we could do, and they would have to do the same. They did.

Another challenge during the installation process for Ingenious was simply the challenge of lifting the 84-inch plasma display into the niche built into the boardroom wall. This plasma panel weighed over 100 pounds and came on its own specialty pallet. INET's installers had to move the panel close to the wall, attach its specialty mount such that it would reside squarely in the center of the niche, and then wire it properly-no small feat. But this was simplified by careful positioning of power and signal backboxes. Further simplifying INET's task was the backing we had placed into the wall to support the tremendous weight of our "super-sized" plasma panel.

Something that always impresses me is well managed cabling throughout a project. Ingenious was, in fact, so impressed by the cabling that while they were having a grand opening soirée months later, I actually spied Lewis Michael of Ingenious Partners sliding out the racks we previously talked about so he could show off the wiring behind them. This speaks volumes for the quality of the wiring that INET provided. When I go to check a system out, the first thing I look at is the back of the rack. It usually is the single largest omen of things to come on a project.

Next month we'll continue our tribute to installers, talk about other challenges, the final system testing, and the turnover of the system to Ingenious.

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