Going Beyond Geographical Boundaries
Powerful software helps small installer land bigger jobs from farther away
Bids are lost every day due to lack of proximity to the project site. Powerful software, however, is making that issue moot. Take the instance of Residential Media Systems Ltd. (RMS), a firm that was contracted to do a complete gut and remodel of the ground floor dining areas and first-floor exterior expansion of a prestigious Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey—a site nearly three hours from its offices in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The Country Club’s goals were to have audio, video and WiFi installed throughout with a clean and polished finished look and to be able to control it all simply and intuitively so that the entire staff—from a worker to the club manager—could use the system. The quality of the audio and video was also top priority, making the careful specification and design of components and gear crucial. So how was RMS able to land the project, accomplish system design remotely, and have systems engineer Zachary Boyd visit the Country Club only one time?
Put simply: A synergic effort with perpetual communication, all made viable with first-class software.
If You Bid It (Professionally), They Will Come
For RMS, the process of landing this project began with D-Tools System Integrator (SI) software, which actually helped the company win the project bid. ”D-Tools aided tremendously in the bidding process, allowing the client to see that we were quoting real numbers based on a rough specification,” says Zachary Boyd, Systems Engineer at RMS. “We were also quickly able to adjust quotes in the interest of value-engineering to meet the client’s budgetary requests.” By providing quick, professional quotes that were extremely thorough and could be altered on the fly, the Country Club knew what to expect in terms of cost, and could therefore pull the trigger to commence the project quickly and without reservation.
System Design Made Easy
Once contracted, D-Tools then became vital to the design and engineering process. D-Tools drawing capabilities leverage industry standards for effective communication with customers, internal teams, and other trades. “I was on-site for this job a grand total of one time. D-Tools’ Visio capabilities allowed me to visualize all the necessary aspects of the job right from my desk. The plan drawings let me outline clear expectations, not only for our own installers but other site sub-contractors as well,” says Boyd. Additionally, the D-Tools Line Diagram gave the client and installers a quick and clear snapshot of the overall system design, while the D-Tools Wiring Schematic was critical to engineering the system to full functionality. “It provided the opportunity to engineer the system right the first time with virtually no additions or exchanges on equipment,” adds Boyd.
RMS has been using D-Tools SI for quite a few different workflow processes. After a job is contracted and engineered the company uses D-Tools Picklists to track product purchasing and receiving. “D-Tools also helps us get a quick and accurate rack drawing. Rack drawings can be easily adjusted as the design of the job evolves. On large-scale jobs, installers can follow the wiring schematic to ensure our programmer can efficiently program systems—like networks, processors, and AV matrix switchers—based on how it’s already wired. Final installation and component connection time is therefore greatly reduced,” says Boyd.
The Guts of the System
Thanks to the lightning-fast bidding and system design phases of the project utilizing D-Tools SI, RMS was able to save time and free up associated budget for high-performance products, not to mention begin system implementation immediately. RMS was able to further utilize D-Tools’ extensive product database to organize the project quickly and more efficiently. As intuitive and powerful control was essential to the overall success of the project, Boyd had his installation team put in a Crestron control system for its added stability and flexibility. RMS used Crestron DigitalMedia (DM) as the video matrix backbone for all eight displays in the system. “This solution allowed us to offer source flexibility and quick switching from DirecTV satellite signal, to digital signage, to remote input ports throughout the building,” says Boyd. Likewise, a Crestron Sonnex audio matrix gives the audio system the flexibility, quality, and power necessary for a top-notch audio system that quickly switches between music, display audio, or public announcements. Because the music itself is provided by Autonomic Controls Mirage Audio Server and is tied directly into the Crestron control system, there’s no need to run a separate music control app, further simplifying system control. Thanks to the custom graphic user interfaces running the Crestron app on iPads, anyone can operate the system with ultimate ease from an already familiar interface.
Reproducing all that great streaming music in crystalline quality are Sonance in-ceiling and surface-mount commercial speakers. “These speakers offered high-quality audio in all zones and a totally clean finish,” says Boyd. Meanwhile, planter speakers from Madison Fielding gave the new exterior bar terrace a full, rich sound while remaining completely camouflaged. Video is equally impressive, with Sony HDTVs providing a top-notch picture throughout the space.
As with any enterprise or residential installation these days, the quality of the system is only as good as the quality of the network. “The control of the system lives and dies on the quality of each iPad’s Wi-Fi connection,” says Boyd. With that in mind, RMS installed Ubiquiti Unifi access points throughout the space to ensure even network speed and stability, plus a Cisco SG300 series switch for network management and distribution.
Service from Afar
So after the installation takes place, what if there is a problem? Does RMS have to roll a truck three hours to fix an issue? Thanks to Ihiji Invision remote network management and monitoring software, the answer is a resounding ‘no.’ RMS turned to the safe and secure Ihiji Invision software solution, which allows them to constantly monitor and remotely manage all aspects of the system, including network latency, oftentimes without the Country Club being the wiser. This allows the company to maintain a high level of functionality and reliability of their system while eliminating the need for RMS to travel to the site, which is costly, inconvenient, and time-consuming for both the integration firm and the Country Club.
In fact, RMS used this project as a premier application of its client-care programs utilized among the majority of its customer base—creating a valuable service for the client. Now, the RMS team promotes, and generally requires, Ihiji-driven client care programs in conjunction with a network.
In the end, the Country Club installation was a huge success. The D-Tools System Integrator system design, proposal and installation management software platform helped RMS land the project and design it, and manage it from afar. “For a small, albeit talented, company to complete a job of this magnitude and complexity nearly three hours away with minimal issues and nothing but high praise from the client is a unique and noteworthy accomplishment,” says Boyd. “We couldn’t have done it without D-Tools complete streamlined System Integrator software.”
- Control: Crestron
- System Quoting, Design & Specification Software: D-Tools
- Remote Network Monitoring: Ihiji Invision, WattBox, APC
- Speakers: Sonance, Madison Fielding
- Displays: Sony
- Music Server: Autonomic Controls
- Racks: Middle Atlantic
Electronic Systems Design
Residential Media Systems (RMS) Ltd.
* Photographer Credit: Caleb Fetter