Mission: Meeting Rooms People Can Use
From its high-rise headquarters towering above Calgary, Enbridge leads operations that transport, distribute and invest in assets like crude oil, natural gas, and renewable energy products throughout North America. The 65-year-old company has been recognized as one of the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the world.
As part of its goal to increase efficiency, the Canada-based company looked to consolidate its work spaces and tailor them to different business units.
“We decided to renovate to better accommodate the staff and the way they work,” says Amin Ladha, IT systems analyst for Enbridge.
“We decided to renovate to better accommodate the staff and the way they work.” -Amin Ladha, IT systems analyst, Enbridge
Ladha explains that the building, which Enbridge moved into 10 years prior to this project, was long overdue for new spaces that would enable team members to work together. Another, related reason for the renovation: issues with the existing technology.
“Users were complaining that they weren’t able to locate meetings rooms,” says Ladha. “And the rooms were inconsistent in terms of equipment.”
That inconsistency meant staff had to master different sets of AV equipment from room to room in order to hold meetings and collaborate with one another. The solution was a technology refresh throughout the building — better-equipped meeting spaces, panels to schedule rooms, digital signage, and video displays – where the technology would be consistent from room to room and the equipment would be easy to use.
Action: Understand, Verify, and Deliver
Because this project involved a renovation of multiple floors, it took place over several phases. When AVI-SPL began its work, the process included creating use cases, reviewing equipment, and planning for Enbridge’s request that its conference rooms be ready for collaboration within a minute of walking into them.
“We were meeting with the client two to three times a week,” says Keith Newson, AVI-SPL project engineer. “That was one of the biggest reasons for our success – the number of meetings ensured we fully understood what Enbridge wanted.”
Another key to the project’s success was the mock-up room that AVI-SPL and Enbridge built as a model for the actual meeting spaces. Ladha says having that space helped set expectations for project milestones, and kept the project running smoothly.
Throughout the building, all of the general meeting rooms are identically equipped and programmed for quick collaboration. When the lights are turned on in a meeting space, a Crestron touch-panel activates. AVI-SPL programmed the touch panel so that staff can wake up the flat-panel displays in a room by moving a computer mouse. Users can then use the touch panel to activate the room’s PC, which boots up quickly thanks to drivers recommended by the AVI-SPL team.
Touching an icon on the panel – which includes VGA, HDMI and in-room computer symbols — allows users to switch between inputs.
“We’re the first company in North America that wanted to create its own icon solutions for the touch panels,” says Ladha. “We worked on it internally, and AVI-SPL designed it.”
The tables are free of wires and clutter because the cables retract into the cubbie. All the icons are visible, whether connected or not, and the active connection glows green on the display.
AVI-SPL handled the consultation, design and implementation for the executive rooms on the 32nd floor. Spaces include the boardroom (which features two Christie projectors), a general meeting room and smaller meeting rooms attached to the offices of the executives.
In the second floor’s reception lobby, an area designed for meet-and-greets — a 2×2 NEC digital signage array runs promotional videos. This floor is also home to a training area with two multipurpose Learning Centers. Instead of table microphones, each center has a highly specialized Meyer Sound Constellation system of ceiling mics. These microphones control reverb that might otherwise impede clarity, and they allow participants to talk in a normal tone of voice and still be clearly heard by attendees across the room. Biamp Tesira audio digital signal processors can connect with other rooms in the building through direct dialing or an audio bridge. Both Learning Centers feature digital displays (including three Sharp 90-inch panels in one of the forums) and a lectern with a Crestron confidence monitor that allows the presenter to see material before it’s shared with the room. AVI-SPL handled this aspect of the integration working from AV designs by SLR Consulting.
Enbridge catered to each business unit to build out the rest of its floor the way it sees fit. Each floor has an enterprise zone that everyone can use, as well as an operations room, which meets special requirements that are specific to the way that division does business. For instance, in the IT department’s security operations room, a video wall of four Sharp displays gives insight into the health of Enbridge’s network and servers. The network logistics room’s video wall of six NEC displays (two vertical, three horizontal) works with software that helps Enbridge plan work on existing and future pipelines. The top three displays are dedicated to run Enbridge’s custom-built software, while the bottom three are available for users who want to connect their personal devices.
As plans to implement certain types of equipment were met with room limitations, AVI-SPL adapted. When a projector intended for the large meeting rooms wouldn’t work, the team switched to 90-inch Sharp LCDs.
“We had scoped our projectors as part of the large meeting room solutions,” says Ladha. “Once a 90-inch digital display was available, we decided to change from the projector to the LCD. AVI-SPL is always available to assist us and is open to making changes.”
Impact: Increased Productivity
Enbridge wanted consistency from its revamped meeting spaces, and that’s what the company and its staff now enjoy. In every general meeting space, the presenter station is on the right side of the display, at the front of the conference table. While the number of a particular type of equipment, such as microphones, varies depending on room size, the equipment — e.g. Biamp Audia digital signal processors — generally remains the same.
The rooms also share a common, simplified way to connect devices. Staff members connect their devices via the cable cubbie; instant switching then places that device’s content on the room display.
“We created a user-friendly interface,” says Newson. “If you bring in a laptop, you know what connection you need to give a presentation, because the touch panel shows a picture of the connection. People are not second-guessing themselves anymore.”
They can bring in any device – laptop, tablet – and know they can connect them to the room system and start a meeting underway in less than a minute. Since the integration, Ladha has noticed a reduction in the amount of calls by staff needing technical support.
“There’s been 80 percent positive feedback in terms of the experience of booking and using rooms,” Ladha says. “We’ve increased productivity because the rooms are easy to find and it’s now easier to start meetings.”