Larsen & Toubro, India

Larsen & Toubro is in the business of building spaces for others. Hurrairah bin Sohail finds out how the construction conglomerate approached its own facility in Mumbai.

Larsen & Toubro [L&T], an Indian multinational conglomerate is counted among the world’s top five construction companies. When it decided to consolidate its footprint in Mumbai at A. M. Naik Tower it was expected that the final product would be one that would serve to showcase the direction modern corporate spaces are headed in.

EYTE Technologies was appointed as the consultant for the project and was charged with designing the technology systems to be deployed and ensuring that the project reached successful completion. Plus Business Machines served as the integrator.

Abdul Waheed, managing director at EYTE Technologies, kicks the conversation off: “As consultants we were working directly with L&T, in particular the Infotech team, and we started with collecting information. I think we conducted between eight to ten workshops all geared towards understanding the requirements of the project. The goal for L&T was to bring all their teams under one roof at A.M. Naik Tower spread across multiple floors. This was not a normal project. The aim was to make sure that the floors had the basic technology infrastructure to support these teams but also the infrastructure should be able to support future upgrades and decisions as the different teams saw fit.”

The workshops Abdul Waheed highlights were critical. He expands: “There was time spent on technology presentations, where we updated L&T on the common trends in the industry with regards to technology such as AV over IP, wireless presentation, laser projection, 4K and 8K displays, videowalls and how they can be asymmetric. We did multiple tech demos for them as well so that they could see the technology we were talking about in action. Additionally, we were also part of workshops and information sessions with the architects. The building was to have a smart and green concept so we had to make sure we knew the standards and the direction that was being taken on that front so we could sync with it.”

All of everything

We start our examination of the project with the multipurpose hall. Abdul Waheed says: “The multipurpose space or auditorium was very challenging. The space can be used as two separate halves or as one whole and that was not a problem. The challenge lay in how L&T wanted to use the spaces and how we were to design the right AV systems for them. The first challenge was providing them AV systems that met the full breadth of their requirements. They wanted to not only use the auditorium for seminars and annual functions, but also wanted the option to hold live events, music performances, cinema-quality movie nights and live streams of sporting events in the space.”

He continues: “Complicating matters from an audio perspective was the fact that the acoustics in the auditorium were bad because of the presence of hard surfaces. On top of that, the seating arrangement in the space is stackable and with the use of hydraulics the chairs and seats in the auditorium can be completely stowed away at one side. This of course completely changes the acoustic properties of the auditorium.”

The solution to the challenges lay in hard work and diligence. Arif Patil, technical director at EYTE Technologies, says: “Our starting point for the solution was modelling the space and coming up with the first drafts. We also worked very closely with the architect and the construction team to make sure that the acoustics of the auditorium could be improved as much as possible. And we knew that the selection of the products for the audio was going to be absolutely crucial. They had to be adaptable, flexible, and versatile to cover the full gamut of requirements from L&T’s side.”

Bose Panaray MA12 speakers form the core of the audio system deployed. These are augmented with Bose MB24 subwoofers, RMU 108 side speaker and RMU 105 stage monitors. The speakers are paired with Bose PowerMatch PM4250 amplifiers.

Audio input is handled by a range Sennheiser microphones. Processing is provided by a ClearOne Converge Pro 2 DSP. Patil says: “The ClearOne DSP is a crucial component of the audio system. We’ve programmed presents for the processor for both combined mode as well as when the spaces are being used separately. On top of that, we have created presets for the different functions L&T had in mind paying special attention to cinema mode. It was a lot of coding, but it was necessary to meet the requirements of the client.”

Of course, the display in the multipurpose hall had to keep pace with the audio. Patil details: “With the flexibility of function required we decided to go with projection. There are two specific Panasonic projectors. One is to provide the cinemascope projection aspect ratio while the other is used for standard presentation. These projectors deliver the visuals that match the audio and are good enough for any usage scenario.”

Additionally, Cisco videoconferencing has been selected for the space based on the performance of its camera. Video transmission is handled by Extron Crosspoint switching. Patil elaborates the critical choice: “Going with the Extron XTP provided us with more bandwidth which put our minds at ease during the project. As we have highlighted, this was not a normal project and we had to keep in mind future technology additions and upgrades that the different teams might want to make. Making sure the video infrastructure was scalable was essential and Extron had a chassis that was big enough and cost effective to deploy. The DTP also has a built-in DSP and amplifier, and this also proved extremely useful as we were designing and deploying the audio systems.”

To add, Abdul Waheed says: “Function is important, but we can’t forget about form. The latter is an aspect where the choice of Extron was validated for us. The office spaces at L&T needed display panels for the purpose of room scheduling. L&T was extremely particular about the final look of these touch panels. They had glass partitioning and they wanted the touch panels to be completely flush with the surface. We tried different products from different brands, but none met L&T’s requirements. But, by virtue of how the Extron touch panels are designed and where the RJ35 port is placed, they were able to be completely flush mounted.”

Patil gives his final thoughts on the end result at the multipurpose hall: “This space required a lot of design work. We had to work out the properties of the space based on the size as well as the seating arrangement. We worked out the different acoustic properties and the different viewing angles first and then worked on finding the best spot for the AV equipment. There were additional challenges such as the interior décor which imposed height limitations for the projector as well as a lighting bar at the front of the auditorium. But in the end, we were able to find the perfect spot for the Panasonic projectors. And with the audio, I am proud to say that L&T confirmed the system we designed and deployed fit their requirements perfectly.”

Mindful meetings

The L&T facility, like any corporate space, has a number of differently sized meeting rooms. Many of these spaces follow a template, with Extron video switching together with Cisco VC at the heart of the spaces. Panasonic LH-49QM1KD 49-in flat panels are used as displays. Larger meeting rooms are equipped with Barco WiPG1000 wireless presentation as an additional means of connectivity.

As the meeting room size increases additional technology is provided to help the spaces function. Apart CM20T speakers paired with Apart Revamp 1120T amplifiers and ClearOne DSPs and microphones augment the audio system when required.

On the video side, larger meeting spaces are equipped with Panasonic projectors. Regarding the challenges faced for the meeting rooms, Patil details: “Some of the meeting rooms feature a round table and it was challenging to provide the cabling required for the space while making sure that all the cables were hidden. We custom built a cable cubby for the space and the table so that we could achieve the final outcome that we wanted.”

Fleshed out

Across the entire L&T facility is a detailed digital signage system. Abdul Waheed elaborates: “The L&T Infotech team has developed its own digital signage system, complete with dedicated players and a software platform, and we had to understand how the content worked, what type of layouts they would be using and how the content would flow and be managed so that we could incorporate our solutions with it. It was within our scope of work to expand the digital signage system to all the floors while still incorporating it within the overall digital signage strategy that L&T was following.”

A number of Panasonic displays have been deployed across the floors and these have been integrated with the central signage system.

The reception area however features a four-by-four flat panel videowall. Patil says: “The content for the videowall is driven by L&T’s own content management system and we had to also make sure that other feeds could be displayed. We decided to go with Datapath processors because we wanted to make sure that the operation of the videowall was robust. Afterall, it makes no sense to invest in a such an impressive display but then have it be spoiled only because the content side is not working.”

Meeting L&T’s directive to create a smart building, Extron IPCP control processors and system are used across the facility as required. Patil says: “We worked to have APIs link and transfer with the smart building system and the AV systems provide real-time feedback from the applications which can be utilised to make decisions regarding how green operations are and so on.”

Regarding the challenges faced during the project, Patil says: “The major challenge was the design and integration of systems. As I mentioned, the L&T facility houses multiple teams across multiple floors all with their own existing systems and technology roadmaps. There is no one standard. So, we needed to have a complete inventory of everything that was going to be deployed, and then try and predict how things would pan out. This took a lot of communication and coordination with all the different teams.”

Abdul Waheed concludes: “We’re a team of designers and AV technicians, we’re not salesmen. So, every project that we do, we approach it from the perspective of designers. This means that our focus is always on providing value for our clients.”

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