Whitlock standardizes processes and provides quality installations with IDEAL Networks testers
US-based AV integrator Whitlock has purchased a selection of testers from IDEAL Networks to standardize and transform the way they troubleshoot cable.
Whitlock is focused primarily on conferencing systems, video collaboration training systems, audio signage and other AV systems and has a team of around 200 technicians installing cable and devices, usually powered by PoE and installed on customers’ VLANs over Cat5e/6 cable.
Without standardized cable testing equipment, ensuring its large team of technicians is installing with a consistent process was challenging for Whitlock. For instance, there was no set procedure in place for testing and troubleshooting Cat6 cabling. What’s more, with a selection of equipment from different manufacturers, the quality of cable terminations in the field could vary.
“When working on large commercial projects, our technicians may need to verify the port and VLAN information in thousands of rooms, testing against multiple customer VLANs and checking numerous switches – this is a time-consuming process,” explains Farrell Wood, National Quality Assurance & Training Manager, Whitlock.
“On large scale installations, network contractors might also be making changes while our technicians are working on the AV integration, so what is correct one day, might not work the next,” he continues, explaining that this can cause delays while waiting for the customer or their IT department to fix the issue.
To overcome these challenges, Whitlock conducted extensive research around what test products would best meet its needs before deciding to purchase a selection of testers from IDEAL Networks.
The company opted for VDV II copper cable testers to ensure that all relevant field technicians have ready access to their own tester for troubleshooting. As the quantity of work on networks is increasing, Whitlock also purchased NaviTEK NT copper and fiber network troubleshooting units, ensuring greater availability across all its U.S. offices. To further support cable installation and customer performance requirements, SignalTEK NT network transmission testers and LanTEK III cable certifiers were added.
As fiber optic cabling and troubleshooting becomes a bigger part of Whitlock’s day to day responsibility, Whitlock also incorporated other IDEAL Networks solutions such as the VFF5 fiber optic cable visual fault finder, FiberMASTER light source/power meter and FiberTEK III Tier 1 Multi-Mode fiber certification modules for LanTEK III.
“With VDV II cable verifiers, Whitlock has standardized and totally transformed the way they troubleshoot cable,” explains Tim Widdershoven, Marketing Director at IDEAL Networks. “There has been a marked increase in the consistency and quality of terminations, so technicians going on site to commission projects have far fewer termination errors to deal with and having the right equipment from the outset saves a significant amount of troubleshooting time.”
As well as proving useful for standard testing and wire mapping, the VDV II tester utilizes TDR technology to accurately measure cable length and provide distance to fault, helping technicians to ensure cabling is as correct as possible before the AV system is installed. This reduces guesswork, saving time and money.
Meanwhile, with NaviTEK NT Pro CDP/LLDP/EDP Port Information, engineers can view detailed network information to easily verify the port and VLAN information. This makes large scale integrations and installations of voice and video more time efficient, even when multiple VLANs are present. Previously technicians would have to track down the client’s IT or network team to find out which port or VLAN a device was connected to.
“With NaviTEK NT Pro, Whitlock can also be much more proactive and efficient in informing customers what needs to be changed on a network in order that the AV system integration can be completed,” says Widdershoven. “NaviTEK NT Pro also provides extensive reporting capabilities which will prove useful as an increasing number of AV systems migrate to networks.”
“The guys love these testers – I wish we had more,” says Jeff Jones, Lead Quality Assurance Specialist for Whitlock, explaining that feedback on IDEAL Networks’ products from Whitlock’s engineers and technicians has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Everyone has found the transition to the range of testers to be very straightforward and easy. Very little training has been required to get started with the intuitive testers, a user manual has been enough,” Jones continues.
Compared to previous suppliers, Whitlock has also found that service and support from IDEAL Networks ensures that warranty repairs are carried out quickly and are easy to coordinate.
“When purchasing so many testers, cost efficiencies are vital. IDEAL Networks products come at a better price point and with more competitive support,” says Farrell Wood.
“Overall, Whitlock’s commitment to providing quality, state of the art AV installations for their clients with standardized test practices and efficient troubleshooting has made their choice of IDEAL Networks testers successful at every level,” concludes Tim Widdershoven.