What does this mean? Design/Build, to indicate that we can take your project from concept to completion. Systems Integration, referring that a complete, operating, reliable, maintainable and upgradeable system is more than the sum of it's parts, and requires going deep into the business needs of the client and understanding the capabilities and limitations of products.
We work directly with you, the end user, to understand your audio and video technology needs from a business perspective. We then work with you to develop systems designs with the most appropriate technologies to meet your objectives. We then take the project through to completion of the last details, while keeping an understanding of the big picture.
Systems Integration services include all of the elements listing under Consulting, as well as the following elements:
As a member of a project team, project management frequently consists of "coordination" with other trades and designers. Managing our own operation is relatively simple. However, making sure that everyone else on the project (even those not under our direct control) do what they are supposed to do is often a challenge. Where these responsibilities impact our own abilities to perform, we focus a lot of energy on clear communication and documentation. If necessary, we can take a leadership role in the project team.
As a small office, we focus all of our energies on your project, so we avoid multitasking as much as possible. Thus we can adapt our working style to the need of the project.
Systems design is an iterative process consisting of needs analysis, equipment research and evaluation, design development, review, and proof of concept. Depending on the complexity of systems, it is often necessary to mock up systems during design. The goal of systems design is to have a set of build-to documents when needed, which are non-ambiguous and error free.
This process is the same whether the system to be designed is a recording studio, video production faculty, or network operations center. Specific product knowledge is helpful, and can accelerate the process to a degree. However, the reality of the situation today is that product knowledge is transient. Many product life cycles are measured in months, not years, and even within a current product release, software updates are so frequent as to cause or correct incompatibilities on the fly. Thus the important skills of a systems designer are centered on the process of integration rather than the specifics of product make, model, etc.
We are highly familiar with the following system types: Digital and analog sound reinforcement systems, Background music and paging systems, broadcast (radio and television) systems, videoconferencing, video production, film and video post production.
We use AutoCAD and Microsoft Office products to develop complete specifications and plans for customer projects.
We are a highly engineering-driven integrator, meaning that we strive to provide a high level detail on our drawings for fabrication and installation. This reduces time on site, increases accuracy, and benefits the end user during the maintenance phase.
Our mission is to provide the most appropriate products from the standpoint of function, reliability, and compatibility with the designed system. Although DCA is franchised for a limited array of high quality products which we have come to favor, we have established channels to acquire any product required for our projects at competitive rates.
This means that we can provide turn-key services to our clients, reaping the following benefits:
Procurement services are available with systems integration only, at rates and terms as negotiated.
Logistics includes everything involved in getting people, materials, and information where they need to be, when they need to be there, and is a big part of systems integration. Some might even call this Project Management, but I like the term Logistics.
Typical elements of logistics, which can be provided as a part of Systems Integration by DCA, are: Shipping, storage, staging, packing and crating, crew accommodations, travel, etc.
System design documents are a combination of narratives, schedules, and drawings. The documentation package is managed and updated throughout the entire life cycle of a project. During design and construction, the package provides needed instruction to site crew. After delivery, it becomes the guide book for operators and maintenance personnel.
A typical document package / maintenance manual may include the following information:
In addition, we can provide a bound set of all equipment manuals with the package if desired.
During the design phase, it is frequently advantageous to start racking up the equipment and to discover any potential problems integrating the system physically. At this point, cables can be made, harnesses made, etc, to make as many connections as possible prior to arriving on site. The advantages of this are many fold: wiring can be proofed, work can proceed in the relative clean and calm of the shop, and the time required on site can be reduced.
By delivering each rack to the site complete, the entire process of unpacking and configuring equipment can be made off site, reducing clutter and headache on site.
Clearly, we provide installation. What is it? Pulling wire, terminating cables. Putting up cable tray, Bolting down racks, mounting panels on walls. Labeling all the cables and equipment. Testing. Testing. Testing.
We are happy to work with you, our client, in whatever way suits you and your project. Many projects naturally break down into separate consulting and construction phases, and we are happy to approach them separately or together.
Although our perspective on the Consultant/Contractor duality is admittedly skewed toward the contractor's view, we have produced complete specification packages in the past - notably the Los Medanos School recording arts program.
Design of technical facilities should be from the users outwards, not shell inwards. We can help bridge the communications gap between architects and end users by understanding how technical systems support the business needs of the client, and what is required of the facility to support those goals.
We have been a critical part of the design team on several major projects. We've interfaced with architecture firms such as Gensler and others. In general we take the role of commenting on plans. Another valuable contribution we can make is to detail out architectural base plans with equipment and furniture profiles to help the team evaluate access and egress, as well as meet title 24 requirements.
Good audio/video performance is dependant on a solid AC technical power and grounding system. We can help your electrical engineer and/or contractor to understand the special requirements of AV systems.
Understanding the technical program, we can develop a power requirements plan early in the process to help facilitate overall capacity planning for power as well as cooling, and communicate it to the mechanical/electrical design team.
After developing an equipment plan, we can provide a layer for the electrical plans including circuit locations and device requirements. This can greatly ease the electrical engineer's burden and ensure that the technical requirements are met. We provide this information to your electrical engineer for incorporation into his plan and stamp.
For reference, here's a generic paper I wrote which details some of my AC power philosophies. [PDF file]
Technical Facility design commonly involves infrastructure requirements for a number of separate disciplines: Tele/Data, Audio, Video, Security, Access Control, etc. Coordination between these trades is desirable to reduce competition for limited space and to improve the overall implementation.
Convergence of technologies means that Audio and Video infrastructure requirements are increasingly being met with hardware more traditionally found in the Tele/Data side of the building. In some cases it is desirable to co-locate all three services to eliminate needless redundancy. In other cases it may be desirable to keep them separate, but to coordinate product choices for in-plant consistency.
We can provide design services for low voltage cable accommodation (empty conduit, cable tray, wall and ceiling penetration and stopping), fixed equipment racking systems, head end room layout, structured wiring system design, interconnect panels, hardware, and cable design.
Technologies included are Audio, Video, Control systems of all types, as well as structured wiring systems (Cat 5e, 6, and fiber).