Why Complex and Custom AV and VR Systems Need Staging
During this time of economic uncertainty, clients look for any path to potential savings. Advanced staging and testing of large-scale audiovisual and virtual reality solutions can save money (and disruptions). While it may seem counter-intuitive that additional work before an installation can save money, it can and has over the 20 years we have been perfecting it as part of our rigorous project process. So, when does staging make sense?
Staging is not required for purpose-built, appliance solutions like a pre-configured video conferencing system. In the case of installing multiple similar systems, like huddle rooms, targeted component testing combined with system kitting can be valuable. But, when solutions are more customized, such as bespoke boardrooms or customer experience centers, advanced staging and testing can be extremely beneficial.
In these systems, components are selected from multiple manufacturers, specifically chosen to meet defined use case requirements. Where solutions involve more advanced technologies like multi-element display walls, multiple sources, virtual reality, and other unique capabilities, the first integration of these complex components should not be done for the first time at the installation site. This almost certainly leads to delays, change orders, frustration and, quite often, multiple return trips to get the system fully operational.
Time on site needs to be as productive as possible for all parties involved. A proven staging process can be a critical project stage to ensure a quality result that meets expectations without return visits. Advanced staging should serve as a practice run for the installation team, especially when the solution requires technicians with specialized skills, who may have to travel a significant distance to the site. Building the system to operational status in a controlled environment allows technicians to install the system faster on site. The technicians will have access to Subject Matter Experts for consultation and access to full staging facility tools and resources.
Unexpected difficulties are dealt with before shipment, not at the client site, eliminating the time lost if an installation is halted due to unforeseen issues. This is very important when installations occur at a distance from the integrator’s location, especially elsewhere in the world. Specialized tools or missing/broken components may not be easy to replace once on site. During advanced staging, components that don’t perform as expected can be easily substituted and all specialty tools packed with the shipment.
Staging provides the opportunity for programming of user controls, extensive testing and quality control checks. Prior consultation about use cases will enable control system programmers to develop simple and intuitive user interfaces. All controls can be tested on the staged system prior shipment. A good test process should also check everything from the image signal chain down to the labels on the cables.
The final test to consider is a factory acceptance test, where the client has a chance to visit and see their solution in action before the installation. This is the best time to review functionality so any additions or changes can be requested to fine tune the system to exceed expectations. Making changes or additions at this time, means any additional control programing, cabling, or testing will be done before arrival on site. Change requests during installation should not be an unexpected surprise and cost increase. Also, any delays during the installation may cascade and affect the work of other contractors, adding additional unexpected costs.
Once factory acceptance is complete, the client sign-off is the signal to prepare for shipment. As the system is taken down, the most efficient way to re-build on-site can be documented and all equipment labeled accordingly. Finally, this precision packing means all equipment is scheduled to arrive onsite at one time, not piecemeal. This makes it easier for client teams to plan and manage incoming shipments.
Advanced staging is really about friction-less delivery and enabling productivity sooner. Spending less time on site is less disruptive to clients. Completion of the system on time in a fully operational status enables users to be trained and working on day one. This is immediate return on investment compared to the cost of lost productivity due to delays.