6 ways to take care of AV equipment

Taking care of your valuable audio-visual equipment is a must! Here what you need to know about what can go wrong and how you can prevent it, so you get the most out of your equipment.

Taking care of your valuable audio-visual equipment is a must! Here what you need to know about what can go wrong and how you can prevent it, so you get the most out of your equipment.

AV equipment in business or educational settings is a large-scale investment, especially when equipping several meeting rooms, conference or classrooms with entire AV systems. Just like any other type of investment, your AV equipment should be protected and taken care of in order to get the most out of it. Proper care and maintenance of your equipment will prolong its lifetime and ensure that performance is optimized.

In this article, we’ll be explaining what could go wrong with your AV equipment and what different preventative measures you can implement to protect your AV equipment.

What can go wrong with AV equipment?

Overheating
One of the biggest issues with AV equipment and electrical equipment in general is the tendency to overheat if used for prolonged periods of time. Overheating is when the temperature rises in an electric circuit, causing potential damage to the components. Overheating can occur if excessive heat is produced, or if heat dissipation is poor. This damage usually cannot be fixed, so the damaged internal components must be replaced, or else the whole device is replaced with a new one. Overheating can also be the cause of fire, explosion or injury.

Short-Circuiting
Some ways to cause a short circuit are through incorrect wiring or sending too high a voltage through a circuit. Like overheating, short-circuiting damages the internal components of a device and can cause fire and explosions.

Misuse
People can willfully or unwilfully damage the equipment. The damage can be in the form of vandalism, the use of brute force that results in breakage, or simply by accident if they are not properly trained in how to use the equipment. There are several ways to prevent misuse, which we will cover in more detail later in this article.

Taking care of AV equipment

1. Service agreements

If you have bought a complete AV system from a specialized AV reseller or systems integrator, you are likely to be covered by warranties and service/maintenance agreement. The benefits of such an agreement are that you free up the IT department’s resources to focus on other tasks and guarantee that your AV equipment always works well and is up-to-date. This also benefits the user, giving them peace of mind that the equipment and the meeting rooms are always ready to be used.


A service agreement normally involves monthly fee and covers:

  • Equipment checkup or inspection
  • Reparations
  • Telephone/Email support
  • Costs relating to staff’s working hours and transport

What does an equipment inspection look like?

With a service agreement, your AV reseller or system integrator is required to inspect and service all the equipment. Some examples of tasks are:

  • Checking and testing all the cables, connectors and plates
  • Repairing faulty cables
  • Checking for software and firmware updates
  • Check picture alignment and calibration of projectors and interactive whiteboard
  • Check mounting brackets and fixings

2. Clean it regularly

Dust and dirt can be one of the biggest enemies of AV equipment. Dust and dirt are attracted to some types of equipment due to the static electricity – especially screens. Dust also tends to be collected in the filters and vents of electronic equipment, blocking the exit of heat emitted from the devices and possibly causing overheating and the damaged described earlier on in this article. Another issue is the grease from people’s fingers which develops a layer of “film” on touch screens, making it more difficult to operate and compromising its performance.


Luckily, cleaning AV equipment properly is not a challenging task. Something as simple as a microfiber cloth is perfect to capture all the dust and dirt from surfaces. Office supply stores also offer a wide variety of screen and device cleaning liquids and cloths, specially designed to clean effectively without damaging the equipment. Touch screens can be especially sensitive, so it is always recommended to use cleaning equipment designed specifically for that purpose.


For smaller and more confined spaces, a compressed air duster is a perfect solution. These have a special nozzle that blows compressed air directly into hard-to-reach agents. This is by far the best way to remove dust and dirt from keyboards, vents and other sensitive electronics without using cleaning agents.

It’s needless to say that the safest way to clean electronic equipment is to turn all the equipment off and disconnect it from the power supply before getting started. Following the manufacturer’s manual or instructions on how to clean and maintain the equipment is also a sure way of doing it properly.

Most schools and offices use an external cleaning company to clean all the building once or twice a week. Make sure that the agreement covers proper cleaning of meeting rooms and the equipment within.

3. Keep the temperature low

We’ve already touched upon the dangers of overheating, which can cause damage to the equipment as well as being a health and safety hazard. But how do you prevent it?


One way of doing that is to design the room and place the equipment in a way that ensures all the equipment have plenty of space around them. For example, with a rack with several mounted devices such as control systems or amplifiers require plenty of airflow; perhaps even a mechanical cooling system depending on the size of the rack, the location and the number of devices. This ensures that heat can get out and away from devices. Electronic equipment should also be installed far away from heat sources such as heating ducts, radiators or floor heaters, as these simply add to the heat already generated by the equipment.


Another good piece of advice is to make sure equipment is installed top side up. It might look like a good idea to install equipment sideways to save space – but it’s not. Most equipment ventilates heat through the top because the laws of physics decree that heat rises. There are usually no vents on the sides. By placing the equipment on its side, you’re making it more difficult for heat to escape.

4. Avoid power issues

Even though the equipment has been mounted correctly and has the proper wiring, accidents can still happen. Sometimes the electricity fails. There can be power surges, power slumps (also called brownouts) or blackouts which are completely out of your control.
There are some ways of preventing uncontrollable power issues from frying your equipment.


UPS

Let’s talk about UPS. That stands for Uninterruptible Power Supply; the name speaks for itself. UPS provides emergency power to a system when the primary power source fails, protecting computers and other electronic equipment from internal damage to the components. The switch between getting power from the primary source to the UPS is instantaneous, and depending on the model, has a battery life of a few minutes or hours. No matter what type of UPS you have, it can give you enough time to switch to standby power source such as a generator or to properly shut down equipment.


Power Conditioner

A power conditioner can also help you protect your equipment. A power conditioner is a device that improves the quality of the electricity your equipment is receiving. This ensures a more stable flow of electricity with the right voltage levels that enables equipment to function optimally. Most power conditioners offer functions such as surge protection and noise filtering. Surge protection measure voltage spikes and would shut off the flow of electricity to the equipment it is connected to if it detects a malfunction in the power source.

5. Train users on how to use it

A phenomenon in every company is employee turnover. No matter how low or high your company’s employee turnover is, chances are that there are new people every year. So why not offer training on your IT systems and AV equipment to new employees? An update or refresher course would doubtlessly also benefit current employees. The more comfortable employees are with using your systems and equipment, the more likely they are to use it properly, without damaging it. Training can be in the form of live sessions or a cloud-based e-learning solution. The benefits of a digitalized training system is that users can access the training at any time, and IT managers can track who has received training, send out announcements about new training material and remind people to take a refresher course.

6. Protect it from misuse

Training employees on how to use systems and equipment is one way to minimize the risk of accidental damage and misuse. Another way to protect equipment from misuse is to enable physical measures that give equipment access only to the persons authorized to use it. For example, many classrooms have a keyboard control system installed that allows teachers and lecturers to operate the AV equipment in the room. Some IT managers choose to install a keyboard lock – as the name implies, it locks the keyboard’s functionality so that only people with a key can operate the control system. On a touch panel control system, the IT manager might decide to password-protect the control system by creating a locked layer. Users would need an access code to unlock the interface, just like a smartphone.

Conclusion

Now you’re a lot smarter on what to watch out for – needless to say, heat and electricity malfunctions are electronic devices’ worst enemies. By ensuring that your equipment is well-ventilated and placed far away from other heat sources, you’re already there.

About Biamp

Biamp is a leading provider of innovative, networked media systems that power the world’s most sophisticated audiovisual installations. The company is recognized worldwide for delivering high-quality products and backing each one with a commitment to exceptional customer service.

For more information on Biamp, please visit www.biamp.com or read the official press release on Neets joining the Biamp family here.

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