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Videowalls: the advantages of partnership working

After previously outlining the state of the videowalls market, we look at the importance of partnering with manufacturers to get the right pre-and post sales support.

“It is vital that integrators partner with the manufacturer early and often in the process,” asserts Jeff Crowley, who is VP of global channel sales for NanoLumens. “We partner with integrators to provide specific technical and product line expertise to the end users. For preferred partner integrators, training and certification on the entire line of offerings is provided.”

Chris Ault, reseller account manager, LG Electronics UK, believes that transparency when it comes to product roadmaps is vital in a manufacturer’s role in helping integrators deliver profitable business.

“Inevitably, products will go end-of-life as we continue to develop our portfolio to ensure that we’re at the cutting edge of technology. However, we aim to take a more consultative approach where possible to ensure that all stakeholders have visibility of the roadmap so that we can avoid any potential issues where ongoing supply/support of the same model is required.”

It’s all about taking advantage of the extensive training that many manufacturers offer, and working with accurate, from-the-source information to optimise decision making. Thorsten Prsybyl, section manager large format displays at NEC Display Solutions Europe, makes the point that, typically, you get what you pay for.

“The quality of the display solution is reflected by the pre- and aftersales support of the supplier,” he believes. “A good supplier will help you with questions before, during and after the installation. Cheap won’t be good, and good won’t be cheap. There’s no such thing as cheap with good product and service quality. If you go the cheap route, prepare for trouble. Cheap products are generally cheap because the manufacturer didn’t invest in the staff to support you. Don’t expect anything other than the lower price.”

The implications seem obvious: while it may be superficially tempting to bid inexpensive hardware with the theoretical prospect of higher gross margins, that margin may be more than consumed by problems encountered in specifying, installing and commissioning.

Price and quality, of course, are two of three variables – some would argue there are more – in videowall projects, the other being size.

“It is difficult to optimise more than two out of three variables,” claims Helgi Sigurdsson, product manager at Matrox Graphics. “You can optimise for price and size but then quality will suffer. Or you can optimise for size or quality and the price goes up. Or optimise for price and quality and then size will suffer. In the end, it all comes down to understanding and knowing the customer needs – and every customer is different. The AV integrator has to understand what problem the end user is trying to solve. That is value-add that builds reputation and locks in future projects.”

Sigurdsson believes that a fourth important variable is scalability. “Matrox Graphics worked with one videowall integrator whose customer wanted to add another row of displays to their wall partway through the installation,” he recalls. “In that case, this was as easy as adding an extra Matrox Mura MPX card to the same system.”

Mounting importance

Prsybyl talks about “the quality of the display solution” – and it’s easy to believe that’s about the appearance of the screens or the power of the wall controller. There is, however, another vital element that, says Peerless-AV’s managing director Gordon Dutch, good integrators never overlook.

“Good integrators understand that the mount is a vital part of almost every videowall project and recognise the benefits of a mounting solution that is as user-friendly, intuitive to install and convenient to service as possible,” he says. “Selecting the right mount, with the required functionality, will very often save time and effort on site and lead to a more productive and profitable installation. However, what they might not fully appreciate is that choosing the correct mounting solution could add value by increasing the end client’s ROI, may drive additional engagement, would enable the use of larger displays and allow bigger arrays to be created in locations that were previously not considered possible.”

“And,” he smiles, “who in their right mind would want to reach project deadline day only to find that the mount is not compatible with the display? Working closely with screen manufacturers, Peerless-AV guarantees the highest levels of compatibility so this situation can be avoided.”

When it comes to profitability, time is, of course, money.

“The ability to reduce installation times by up to 60% can have a significant effect on the bottom line for an integrator,” he adds. “Our custom wallplate spacers are designed to give perfect spacing for a dedicated display model, eliminating the need to calculate and measure the position of each mount in a videowall array.”

“Also, having the ability to make micro-adjustments once installed is a vital consideration in selecting any videowall mounting solution,” he concludes, “to ensure that any display can be quickly and perfectly aligned to its surroundings, or to the screens alongside it – even in situations where a wall surface might not be flat or level.”

Dutch has an ally, in terms of the importance of mounting, in NanoLumens’ Crowley.

“Mounting a visualisation solution should never be taken lightly, and many things must be considered prior to the first wrench being turned,” he says. “Where does the end-user want to mount the display and will the wall or ceiling support it? Should it be suspended with high-tension aircraft cables? Is it a confined space that would require the solution to be front serviceable? All of these concerns need to be addressed at the very beginning of the relationship. NanoLumens provides lightweight, front-serviceable displays that have completely rewritten the rules of mounting. Thanks to this revolutionary visualisation solution set, we are able to mount our displays where a typical ‘videowall’ would be impractical, including confined and curved spaces.”