Seeing the big “digital” picture
When it came time to renovate its operations control center, Austin Energy
wanted to make a smart investment in visualization technology to ensure reliable
power distribution for the long term. Its staff observed the Barco LED video wall
in action at Distributech, the utility industry’s annual tradeshow, which led them
to consider the 80” cubes. After a diligent investigation of several video wall
solutions in collaboration with integration partner AVI-SPL, Austin Energy selected
Barco’s LED video wall solution to completely digitize its control room visualization
Comprehensive view heightens situational awareness
“From the outset, our mission was to build a state-of-the-art control center, and
being able to display our entire service network, including every substation, on
one continuous wall display was a critical element. Another objective was to
replace the antiquated steel magnetic mapboard that tracked the distribution
network with a more flexible technology solution. Fortunately, we had the real
estate to accommodate a very high resolution video wall, and with the tightly
stitched screens, we can view a smooth, continuous image with no visible
seams. It’s a very impressive feature to anyone who witnesses it - you can barely
see the seams from ten feet back,” comments Craig Schaub, Manager, Control
Engineering for Austin Energy.
The video wall is a seamless design featuring acrylic panels that butt up to each
other with no mullions to interfere with the viewing of data. So it’s a seamless
image. The 89’ wide x 16’ high video wall display is divided into two sections
which operators can control independently to view transmission, system
information and distribution displays.
“Operation staff benefit from the exceptional resolution of content on the wall.
By bringing to their fingertips with panning and zooming what once required
a ladder, operators are able to maintain visual awareness of all their systems
without leaving their seats,” comments William Hunter King, SCADA Analyst for
A window to customers
The video wall offers Austin Energy the ability to quickly adapt to changing
needs. With the static wall, it was previously limited by the placement and
design from day one. We configured the new wall to enable operation as an
extension of the wing operator’s desktop. The display wall can run applications
locally on the controller’s display or from multiple sourced systems through
CMS-200 software. As we integrate new technologies such as the Advanced
Distribution Management System into our inventory, we are confident that these
new systems will meld seamlessly with Barco’s display technology.
The OverView OVL-815 video wall modules have been designed for reliable and
continuous operation over several years, without any need for consumables over
their lifetime. Each of the three color blocks have six independently-powered
LEDs, ensuring a high level of redundancy to give users the peace of mind the
need in mission-critical environments.
The unique active liquid cooling system ensures lower LED temperature, resulting
in longer LED lifetime (>80,000 hours in eco mode) than traditional fan-cooled
or passive liquid-cooled LED engines. Also, Barco’s unique user-replaceable LED
chain design assures shorter MTTR with minimal down time to reliably maintain
24/7 mission-critical visualization support.
Enhanced viewing experience
Barco’s OverView O-series video walls feature Sense6, a unique sensor
technology, which provides automatic spectral, brightness and color stability over
time and across the entire display, eliminating the need for manual adjustments.
“The LED wall offers excellent color uniformity and the colors are always well
balanced, while the high resolution enables clear viewing of the data even from
a distance,” comments Schaub.
Flexibility improves collaboration
With Barco’s CMS-200 software, Austin Energy Operations staff can create
integrated perspectives from multiple input sources, including workstations,
and push them to the main display. “The ad-hoc capability is very useful for
facilitating collaboration among the operations staff which can ultimately lead to
better decision-making,” comments King.
Lowest total cost of ownership
Not only does the LED light source enhance image clarity on the video wall, it
also provides the lowest total cost of ownership among alternative video wall
sources. “The LED solution is a much less expensive option over the long haul,
because there are no consumables and it is more energy efficient. The Barco wall
simply offered a positive business case based on proven technology,” comments
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