During the fall and winter months each year, the industry starts reflecting on growth, trends, and challenges to prepare for success in the year to come. But this year is different than most, as we enter a new decade that will bring a changing landscape of technologies and opportunities.
Offices, conference spaces, schools, and other environments are more connected than ever before. Millennials are driving the growth of the huddle room, and as companies seek more efficient communications, the market for video walls and collaborative displays is growing. Demand for communications, display, and automation systems to improve work processes means opportunities for dealers to grow their businesses. Whether updating existing installations with upgraded display equipment or offering huddle space systems to new customers, the stakes for system management and performance are rising for dealers. Customer satisfaction can make or break a dealer’s reputation.
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A strong foundation is necessary to make the business, conference room, theater, and security systems reliable and able to perform to customer expectations. Power quality needs the same attention as the network. While power is a constant—save for weather-related outages—it fluctuates. Brown-outs, which cause lights to dim and appliances to shut down, are a familiar though somewhat rare disturbance; electrical sags, surges, spikes, and noise, however, are common and daily threats to equipment and systems. They aren’t often apparent, and can have a number of causes: incoming power from the grid, a neighboring building, a large appliance power cycling, or even a renewable energy source. Common effects of power anomalies include frequent system downtime, device lockup, or complete equipment breakdown.
When power anomalies hit a system, the problems quickly trickle from devices to dealers. Power issues can be wrongly attributed to faulty equipment that isn’t, in fact, faulty, or worse: the dealer, their installation skills, and their reputation. Without proactively addressing the power quality in installations, dealers risk incurring costs—including product replacement and truck rolls to address system downtime—as well as potential loss of business and damage to their reputation. To stay ahead of power problems and their effects, dealers can use a two-pronged approach: get clients on board and choose the right technology for a power foundation.
For clients who are hesitant about adding a power foundation, a simple analysis can prime clients and the installation site for success. A diagnostic tool like the SurgeX enVision, for example, helps dealers prove and find power anomalies. Plugged into any outlet, it tracks the conditions by providing time-stamped reports and analysis. If a customer is skeptical of their need for a power foundation, a simple report shows the spikes, sags, and electrical noise that could threaten their technology investment and system experience. The reports also help dealers find the culprit for a troubled system. Power problems are often present in systems that need extra service, like those frequently requiring remote reboots or equipment that repeatedly needs service and replacement, like a speaker or projector.
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For example, consider a case in which the automation system intended to start up a conference room projector continually goes offline, causing the customer to contact the integrator, who must visit the site multiple times. As a result, the expensive projector bulb has had to be replaced three times. While the integrator fixed the system each time, they couldn’t identify the source of the issue. After setting up a power diagnostic tool, the integrator found that unstable power was the reason for the downtime and product breakdown. Using the data, the integrator was able to prove to their client why the system wasn’t performing up to expectations. They could then select equipment that would create a proper power foundation to protect the installation from the harmful anomalies, and over time prove the value in that equipment by reduced downtime leading to service calls and equipment damage.
Using analysis, integrators can design the power foundation. The technology for protecting against power problems is universal, but the devices needed will vary from installation to installation. Small business and office projects may need only a power conditioner installed in the rack, and projects in areas at risk for frequent lightning storms like the South and Midwest may also call for a surge eliminator. No matter the type of installation, surge technology is critical to a successful foundation. Equipment and power strips bought at retailers contain inadequate Metal Oxide Varistor (MOV) technology that’s designed to be self-sacrificial: MOVs pop when they absorb the extra energy of a power surge and are destroyed. After a damaging surge, they lose their efficacy and will let harmful surge energy pass through to connected devices. A multi-stage technology ensures that the surge is completely eliminated instead of deterred, and that the equipment will protect systems and devices without a limited lifespan.
Implementing a plan for a power foundation does more than protect devices from breakdown and downtime. It prevents loss to a dealers’ credibility by removing power anomalies as an invisible variable that can impair the proper functioning of their work. Preventing problems safeguards the dealers’ relationship with their customers against the effects of power anomalies; in turn, customers benefit from having their technology investment protected. A power foundation is an all-win scenario, and a must-have on 2020 installation checklists.