The new head offices of EXARRO in Centurion are a powerhouse display of integrated AV technologies.

We caught up with Frog AV and Mindstec to learn more about this turnkey solution, which has delivered a world-class AV backbone to the offices of the major mining company.

According to Chris Smith – Principal Architect at EXARRO – “We were looking for a cost-effective integrated solution with ease of use, which could be easily integrated into the Microsoft Office Suite. Previously we had normal, projector-type of boardrooms, and we decided that we want to move away from them due to their quality and the cost of operation. We also specified that connectivity to the equipment in the boardroom must be seamless and wireless, and must enable any type of computer to connect to the equipment.”

“The brief covered an enormous scope. We have a long-standing relationship with EXARRO, and I therefore had a very clear idea of what their vision was for the project – which included a solid installation at their head office in Pretoria that would allow for wireless, online collaboration and video conferencing, which would then be deployed at all of the company’s mines in Mpumalanga and Limpopo on the same network. EXARRO where looking for a standardised solution that would operate seamlessly to connect all of its sites.”

From Adre’ Pansegrouw’s perspective, the managing director of Frog AV

Adre’ explains that the Frog AV team was systematic in its approach. “In tackling the EXARRO project, we designed three different ‘recipes’ for the differently-sized venues. The EXARRO team then decided how many of each rooms they wanted, and we simply replicated the three different configurations over the five floors of office space, ultimately including the implementation of 83 boardrooms. The benefit to a phased implementation such as at EXARRO is that we had the opportunity to design, implement and troubleshoot the installation at the head office first. Thanks to the lessons that we learned deploying the head office installation, we are more equipped to extend the system to all of the company’s business units.”

The solid communications spine provided by Crestron would mean nothing without multiple high-functioning, user-friendly interfaces – and this is where, as Adre’ explains, Mindstec entered the picture. “We used Mindstec for all the interactive displays throughout the EXARRO offices, integrated with Flipbox software. We also used their T1V software for the video walls.”

Nathan van Zyl, lead channel manager at Mindstec, says: “Because Adre’ and her team had built a very sophisticated technological environment, we just had to ensure that we had specific technology built into our displays and our software platforms to allow for the overall integration with the backend systems.”

He outlines some of the advantages of the Flipbox software that Mindstec regularly integrate into their interactive screens: “From our perspective, the use of use of Flipbox is a real advantage. The application is very similar to a mobile phone, with one-touch launch of applications – and we can lock the homepage and so keep the look and feel consistent across every display.”

For this first phase of the EXARRO implementation, Mindstec installed standard-sized 65-inch screens throughout the building, as well as two 86-inch screens in the executive boardrooms. In all of the spaces except the four-seater huddle rooms, these screens are fully interactive LED displays from the WavexTouch range, sporting built-in infrared touch frame overlays.

Adré says that “The Wavex infrared technology is so responsive – we tested different brands, and this was the way we wanted to go. The Wavex suppliers have also been so fantastic to deal with; they changed things both on the component and software level to make the integration operable.”

Nathan also highlights the role that Mindstec’s T1V software played in the installation. “This was an interesting component because it basically evolved from a relatively straightforward interactive video wall – where people could share content and hold meetings – into something far more complex. After multiple demos and lots of meetings with the key stakeholders at our showrooms, we came up with a much bigger solution after introducing them to the T1V Suite.

“This is a customisable off-the-shelf piece of software,” he explains. “It allows a client to really adapt the technology to their specific requirements. It means we don’t have to try and fit a square peg in a round hole; we can build the solution on the basis of what they are trying to achieve.”

Nathan outlines how the total solution comes together: “We install a display in the form of a large video wall. We have our custom-built interactive overlays on top of that, and the software sits in the background. This software has a whole range of different customisable modules that you can call up – but, what’s interesting, is that not is this the first deployment of T1V in South Africa, but EXARRO’s specifications presented a first for T1V, in terms of what they were trying to achieve with the software.

“T1V has a lot of experience in interactive timelines and interactive mapping, but what EXARRO wanted was completely different: they needed a platform where stakeholders could meet and really interrogate their business intelligence dashboards. They needed an executive briefing centre; a way to be able to meet and instantly drill down into the various business intelligence data sets they have, to identify any pain points that required immediate attention.”

Nathan reflects a “challenging and exciting” installation – during which the company had to make various software and firmware adaptions to meet the requirements of the project – by saying: “With Frog AV being so creative and strategic in their thinking around the project, it brought to a light a lot of new capabilities that stretched the potential of our technologies.”

Adre’ concludes: “With such a big and ambitious project – where we were really trying to accomplish something that no one else has achieved until now – you need to be able to rely on your partners every step of the way, even when plans change according to the client’s needs. Thankfully, Mindstec really walked the extra mile for us – and more.”

This story is a part of a multi part feature. Click the links below to read the other parts: