Control, yourself

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It’s probably happened to you and probably more than once: you buy a piece of technology only to find it so overburdened with features that actually using it in anger becomes a nightmare of screens and button clicks. You may well have bought it for one or two specific jobs, jobs that you often need to alternate between, but to move between them is a Herculean task.

This is an issue in our industry and a growing one. The problem of overcomplicated and/or underdeveloped manufacturer control systems – and the fact that an operator could well be faced with working with several of these control systems to achieve a single task – is real and has clear economic ramifications. It either requires more staff, or takes the same number of staff more time, to achieve results. This is inefficient.

Another major side effect of these complex control systems, that have been built up over the years, survived various mergers or acquisitions and become bloated, is that they constrain the way engineers and operators think. At the moment too many users are having to think in straight lines, and as simply as possible, rather than being able to say: I can use all this technology in an easily repeatable way to achieve complex tasks at the touch of a button.

As Stuart Parkinson, director of project engineering with Discovery Networks Europe, has said, “(Rascular’s) Helm allows you – encourages you even – to think in different ways and means that you aren’t locked in to buying equipment from a single manufacturer.”

Using a PC-based, fully user-customisable control system – the aforementioned Helm – is one answer; more specific PC-based applications like RouteMaster another. These solutions allow engineers to set up workflows that are as simple or complex as they like, to extend existing product life or to create automated time-of-day events that never need worry an engineer or operator again.

Let’s take just one, real-world customer application. A broadcaster required a cost-effective system to create customised router control panels that could be deployed across its international operations. In addition, the broadcaster wanted a robust application to control the routers automatically at key times of the day on a repeat basis.

For example, a channel in Arabia might take programming from a channel in the Far East from midnight to 5am. Helm Clockwork – a Helm application – allows the broadcaster to achieve this without human intervention. Helm’s easy-to-use panel designer can be used to create purpose-built control panels for the applications.

This project allows the broadcaster’s US and Singapore offices to be able to route video signals around the world with the minimum of effort. Using Helm has allowed the creation of customised panels to suit the needs of operators and their specific locations. Solutions from other manufacturers looked at by the broadcaster were either fixed in the way that they operated or were cost-prohibitive.

Visit us at IBC and explain your technology control problems to us and we can talk you through the solution. You can also take a look at our new website (www.rascular.com) and explore other applications.

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