Large mining and smelting companies like Samancor Chrome have many large interests to maintain. Of course, maintaining this requires numerous meetings, presentations and internal company conferencing and communication. Needless to say, when you’re “one of the largest integrated ferrochrome producers in the world’ it is crucial that every idea, policy and management decision is disseminated as quickly and efficiently as possible. Indeed, it is inconceivable how much information they must stay abreast of.

As we all know, many company decisions and meetings happen in the boardroom; often companies such as Samancor hold several meetings each week. Accordingly, as time passes and technology progresses, it is prudent to ensure that your boardroom conferencing and communication systems are up to date for the simple reason that well-engineered technology saves time and as we all know, time is money.

Called upon to handle the installation of Samancor’s Chrome boardroom conferencing and presentations systems was industry AV masters Blue Hammer, coordinated by Kevin Craig and Richard Pape, with the aid of Dean Jules from Epson. Epson is the top choice for corporate projection worldwide and Blue Hammer is proud to be their sales arm in Southern Africa.

Initially, the operation at Samancor started as a renovation and the services of interior design specialists BCS, with whom Blue Hammer worked very closely, were enlisted. The result was a beautifully designed boardroom that boasted a sleek, modern look with a warm, inviting atmosphere fitted with state of the art presentation and conferencing technology.

Kevin comments:
“The CEO of Samancor had a very clear idea of what he wanted to do. He wanted to keep things simple and had a very clear brief on how he wanted to interact with his boardroom. We did not do the blinds, lighting control etc, however the system is capable of upgrade opportunities.’

The core AV installation at the Chrome room consists of the following components: a PC; a Polycom CX3000 IP conferencing phone which acts as the audio hub for terrestrial and video calls; a Crestron Compact Series 2 Control system brain with Ethernet facility; a Crestron 7′ surface mount touch screen for system navigation and control; an Epson EB-485Wi projector and a Vaddio HD USBB PTZ Camera for video conferencing. The audio system installed was a Bose system consisting of Freespace 3 satellite speakers, and a Freespace 3II subwoofer, installed in the ceiling. A Biamp digital sound processor handles processing of the system. Finally, an Apple iPad was included wirelessly to control the projector.

All aspects of the system are networked to the company LAN and a variety of inputs are accommodated for seamless connectivity without hassle. This gives the opportunity to share and conference virtually any document within the company infrastructure. The projector can be wirelessly controlled via Epson iProjection control software on your iPad, iPhone or Android device and can be used to display a wide variety of items such as web pages, photos, or documents.

Probably the central feature in the Chrome room installation is the 3100-lumen ultra-short throw Epson EB-485Wi interactive projector, connected to the Chrome room master PC via USB for setup, control and diagnostic. This projector offers the ability to project an interactive image up to a size of 100in/245cm onto any flat surface and for the presenter to stand very close without casting a shadow. Inputs are automatically detected.

Annotation is done via infra-red digital pens that work with pre-loaded software and up to two pens can be used at one time. All work can be saved and printed for distribution. In addition, the EB-485Wi image is self-calibrating and takes very little time to warm up, which makes it very user friendly.
Richard Pape comments:

“One of the reasons we use Epson is for the simple fact of value for money. If you look at the opposition in regard to interactive white board you pay more than (literally) double the price and get very little control in terms of software. With Epson, you get the software for free.’
Video conferencing is done via Microsoft Lync, which is Microsoft’s flagship video conferencing and messaging client, enabling employees and clients to share and contribute to documents in real time over the internal network or internet.

The Wrap

The installation by Blue Hammer at the Samancor Chrome boardroom is slick, comprehensive and efficient. With a variety of inputs available to project and annotate virtually any document from virtually any source – both wired and wireless – there is no doubt that future meetings, conferences, and presentations will be accurately and effectively disseminated.
The fact that the installation is open-ended allows further upgrades such as automation, is another value add that, I’m sure, will please all involved and help push Samancor well into the forefront in 21st Century mining and smelting.

By Greg Bester