Three weeks before NEC’s huge Partner Showcase at New York Digital Signage Week, the display solutions provider found itself in need of custom structure solutions for three large video wall displays featuring their LX and L Series video walls. And, the project had to be started from scratch.
Draper has supported this annual event for many years, and our Custom AV Solutions group was already at work on a static fly cage housing the new NEC PH3501QL projector, and a flown TecVision® XH700X Grey screen, which maximizes contrast and uniformity. So, NEC approached Draper with the opportunity.
“As NEC is more focused on bringing solutions to partners in addition to display hardware, we needed the right partner to help us do that,” said Keith Yanke, senior director of product marketing for NEC Display Solutions. “Both companies are targeting similar markets and customers and both companies share the same views on providing the best and right solutions for customers’ needs.”
So Grant Wylie, senior product manager for NEC Display Solutions, picked up the phone.
“When Grant Wylie of NEC reached out to me to provide three custom LED structures, I was both thrilled and scared to death,” said Bob Mathes, Draper’s director of audio visual markets. “Yes, we have lots of experience developing custom solar control solutions. Yes, we had decided we wanted to take that expertise and do the same in the AV market. But we had anticipated entering the custom AV solutions marketplace in early-to-mid 2018 and we had just started to put the necessary pieces of the puzzle in place.”
Draper had three weeks to design, fabricate, manufacture, and install the three structures NEC wanted. Failure would be a disaster, yet success could mean an earlier and triumphant entry into custom AV solutions.
The main engineering work fell to Terry Walkey, who had only recently been hired as Draper’s senior Custom AV Solutions project engineer.
“It was a formula for failure,” Walkey said. “I felt like it would take a miracle to get something designed from scratch and manufactured by the deadline.”
Working closely with NEC, Walkey and Draper’s production engineers and metal fabrication department got to work. The solutions all had to feature frames for the flat panels, with adjustable mounting brackets for each display. And because the displays were very high resolution, the seams between displays had to line up perfectly to within less than a quarter of a millimeter. Add to that the need for front serviceability, built-in cable strain relief, and other design needs, and you have an extremely complex project.
“The process involved a lot of all-nighters,” Walkey said. “We were still tweaking things within a couple days of the event.”
The hard work paid off, and Draper was able to ship the custom structures two days ahead of schedule. First, Draper’s custom solutions team assembled them at Draper’s headquarters in Spiceland, Indiana, to verify the fit and finish. Then came the real test—on-site assembly, and mounting the displays.
“Draper and NEC worked in tandem throughout the process,” Mathes said. “As we did, we began to realize that we had pulled it off! The next three days, we could show our innovative solutions off during the NEC Showcase. Success!”
“It was a lot like a good movie,” Walkey added. “We laughed, we cried, we conquered.”
While Draper’s team was pleased with the outcome, NEC could breathe a sigh of relief. Their partner showcase was back on track.
“The entire Draper team provided a remarkably high level of support for NEC’s needs throughout the planning and implementation of the showcase,” Wylie said. “Without their knowledge, expertise, engineering design, and quick fabrication turnaround, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we did. The Draper team helped to limit that stress by providing confidence and support throughout the planning, installation, and tear-down process.”
The whole experience led to an unplanned opportunity to show off some of Draper’s little-known custom capabilities.
“This event ended up creating the first public exposure for Draper’s custom AV solutions,” said Kevin Barlow, director of business development for Draper. “It was somewhat of an unintentional soft launch, and it went very well. We also applied for U.S. patents to cover portions of the LED display mounting structures.”
For details on some of our custom capabilities, click here, and stay tuned for more news in the near future!