11 Nov 2019

The 1st annual LVS Top Chef is in the books! Over the summer, our manufacturers and distributor partners each put together a cookout to for the LVS team. We have done cookouts in past years as a way of team building with our partners, but thought this would be a fun way to organize it. A little healthy competition, right? Well… let’s just say the LVS team is blown away by the effort! From a 50lb pig in our kitchen to a Mariachi band… we really saw it all. After each cookout, we sent out a survey to our employees to rate performance within six categories on a scale of 1-100. We added them up for an overall winner as well as winners in each category. We are SO grateful to our manufacturers and distributors for not only their hard work on these cookouts, but their continued support and partnership throughout the years.

To show our appreciation and announce the winner, we put together a cookout of our own! We had the incredible Double D Pig Roast come out at 3AM to roast an 80lb pig, drinks, and music by the talented Matt Ellis

 

LVS TOP CHEF 2019 WINNER:

Parallel Solutions, Inc. & WESCO

We are excited to announce this year’s winner of the LVS Top Chef Competition, Parallel Solutions & WESCO! When we say Grill Masters, we mean it. They came in with a deep fried turkey, beef with gorgonzola and balasmic reduction, and infamous Francheeses (hot dog, bacon, cheese…)

We are still drooling! Congratulations to Parallel Solutions and WESCO! Show off that hardware!

CATEGORY WINNERS:

The categories are: Best Presentation, Most Creative Drink, Best Service, Best Clean-Up, Best Tasting Food, Most Organized

  • Most Organized, Hubbell & CT Group

 

 

Thank you to everyone who participated and for a fun & busy summer!

As we near the end of a successful year, we are excited to keep growing our business alongside our partners in 2020. 

30 Aug 2019

We are proud to announce that LVS President and CEO, Gary St. Cin, has been elected on the Board of Directors for the National Electrical Contractors Association – Eastern Illinois Chapter! We look forward to being more involved in the NECA community and to continue bringing together the contractors and resources necessary to provide power, light, and communication technology to businesses and communities across Eastern Illinois. 

Here’s the latest update from our September Newsletter:

12 Aug 2019

It may seem like a no-brainer – high quality sound within an conference or meeting room improves overall efficiency. But, you would be surprised at how often proper sound systems and sound masking gets overlooked. Whether its a hospital room setting, large corporate offices, or a family-run company – sound plays a big role in how employees/customers work on a daily basis.

Think of your weekly team meeting and all that goes into it. How does your CEO review company updates and goals? It may be with a projector or technology that requires sound for proper communication. Is it a conference room for 20 people or a presentation room seating 100+? Regardless of the size, you want the person in back row to hear the same sound quality as the front row seat. Having a proper speaker system will ensure that all parties will hear the highest quality audio, which increases efficiency.

During that presentation, are you able to hear the daily hustle that is going on throughout the rest of the office? If you can hear a pin drop, than it is likely that you organization has a proper sound masking solution. Sound masking is defined as a the process of adding background sound to reduce noise distractions, protect speech privacy, and increase office comfort. It is ambient background sound engineered to match the frequency of human speech for greater speech privacy. It seems counter intuitive, but adding sound to a space actually makes it seem quieter. Simply put: if there are less sound distractions, efficiency will improve. Aside from sound systems, there are also sound absorbing materials such as acoustic wall panels and movable walls to help sound become louder and clearer. This helps reduce echos and reverberation and increase volume and clarity.

At the end of the day, sound is a very important aspect of an organization’s overall productivity, efficiency, and success. Whether its having proper sound communication in conference rooms or sound masking throughout the space – it is an investment that will pay dividends throughout your organization’s life. LVS has designed and installed many sound systems for a variety of customers – hospitals, universities, office space, etc. We would love the opportunity to improve your overall efficiency by implementing a sound system that meets your unique needs. Get in touch with us here for more information on your next project!

25 Jul 2019

Lyondell Basell is nearing its completion of the $55 million, 89,000 square-foot centralized operations center in Morris, IL. Lyondell’s Morris Complex is one of the largest chemical plants in the Midwest. The new facility will feature a a state-of-the art control room, maintenance shops, offices and testing laboratory, and is scheduled to be completed in August of 2019. With more than 400 employees and contractors onsite, the plant is a strong civic supporter investing time, energy and resources into the community.

LVS, along with Meade Electric and Harbour Construction, were contracted to complete the new Operations Center. We are substantially complete with this project that started in late 2017. LVS was contracted to do a design-assist for the for the Structured Cabling, Fire Alarm SystemSecurity System (Access Control and Video Surveillance), and Overhead Paging Sound Masking System Vesda System. This project is a complete solution of all our services – a one-stop shop for all information technology systems. 

 

We are grateful to be a part of such a monumental project for our community! We are looking forward to a successful project completion & to continue building our relationships with Lyondell, Meade Electric, and Harbour Construction as a trusted low voltage contractor. Get in touch with us here for any questions or comments!

11 Jul 2019

Technology trends in our personal life are now driving trends in our work and business life. Software as a Service (SaaS), aka the Netflix Model, has changed the way our businesses operate on a daily basis. People are demanding more and demanding it now. Seriously take a minute to think how much technology has changed in the last 10 years… Today we are able to click a button online and have our products delivered to our door in less than two hours. Where can we possibly go in the next 10 years? Yes, the cloud, co-located data centers, and IoT (internet of things) will still drive change – but what’s the next big trend that will change the way we do business yet again? 

That’s a complicated answer and no one really knows. But, businesses can at least prepare for the possibilities by always looking into the future. We’ve learned by now that if you aren’t looking ahead, you will lose money investing in the wrong ways. By the time you adapt to changes in 2019, all your competitors are in 2025. 

One thing is for certain: Cabling is the infrastructure that supports business operations today. It will always be that way. The only change is the amount of bandwidth and amount of data & devices connected. Some think that cables will eventually go away with wireless, but they forget that those wireless access point that give them a wireless option, still need to be wired. So, while the cabling needs and designs will change, the importance of cabling will continue to grow.

The best copper cable today is the Category 6a cable. It can support 10 Gbps speed at 100 meters (that’s a lot). How will we ever need more than that?! But we will. Back in 1990, Category 3 cable was created to support 10Gbps – which at that time, very few devices would even support that much speed. Category 7 is next, but is not widely available. It will be even thicker, filled with more copper to support even more distance and speed. Which at some point, we’re going to run into physical issues with using copper. 

Now, in comes fiber optic cable. Fiber is made from thin strands of glass. Instead of sending a signal over copper, fiber sends bursts of light through the thin glass strand. This different cable construction allows for fiber to have much higher bandwidth and distance limitations compared to copper. We mainly use fiber for underground (outside plant) or backbone (riser) cable. The main difference between the two is the cost. Fiber is more expensive and it always has been. But, as fiber is produced more, the cost will come down and the differences will be minimal. Today’s devices do not directly support a fiber connection, so converting to fiber ports may be a big change we see in the future. Currently, some wireless access points and security cameras take a direct connection.  Fiber can support speeds over 100Gbps and has been tested at a terabyte per second.

As a low voltage contractor, some of our work is spend ripping out and replacing old cable with new ones. We are also installing a lot of fiber within our projects and will continue to see an increase in those installs. We aim to be a resource for our customers in making sure they are making the most educated decisions for their future needs. And so far, the future is fiber. 

Get in touch with us here!

(referenced here)
03 Jul 2019

Campus Safety and Security Data put out a report that stated between 2012 and 2104, there were 62,787 burglaries, robberies, and vehicle theft within college dorms throughout the United States. That number being ONLY reported crimes. Fast forward to 2019 and it is continuously on the rise. We can all agree that security in education is one of the most important investments the institution can make. Especially student housing. College campuses become millions of students homes for 4 years. 

 

With the high number of students living in dorms, allows for people to come and go as they please. This makes it difficult to keep track of who is coming in and out at certain times of day. Access Control systems can be a part of the solution to keep our youth safe.

Old School

Most college dorms are still only using the lock and key system as it did for nearly a hundred years. These days, it just isn’t enough. Keys can be copied, shared, or locks picked. There are also multiple doors – to get into the residence, dorm room, laundry room, etc. It just isn’t practical anymore. With an access control system, everything can be programmed with one key fob. Each student would have a fob that gives them access to whichever areas allowed and keep them out of areas they are not supposed to be in. 

High Student Turnover 

The majority of colleges & universities require their students to live on campus, especially for freshman year. More housing opportunities are available as your seniority increases. This means that dorm residents are moving in and out every semester. Instead of tracking down thousands of keys every semester (not to mention having to change locks) administration can discontinue the student’s access to their old dorm. It makes it a much simpler, cost-effective process. 

The Unknown 

There are a lot of young adults running around in one place on a college campus. It can be a challenge to track who is coming in and out of a building and when. Having an access control systems allows universities to collect data on what time and where students and faculty are leaving and entering different areas of the campus. In addition, CCTV are a perfect companion to access control. This will then show video surveillance of who is entering and leaving facilities. 

A lot of colleges and universities have already implemented access control and video surveillance campus wide. Given the amount of burglaries and school shootings happening, we have to act and protect our youth. As the challenges continue to arise, we are dedicated to helping institutions design a security system that will help them provide a safe environment for their students and faculty.

As the summer continues on, LVS is hard at work installing upgrades and changes for our school district and university  customers before the new school year begins. If your institution is looking to upgrade its security, please get in touch with us here and we will work to design a system that is right for your needs. 

 

 

27 Jun 2019

We had the pleasure of participating in our long-time customer, Silver Cross Hospital’s 28th Annual Charity Golf Classic this past Monday at Crystal Tree Country Club in Orland Park. LVS Project Manager, Mark Graczyk, played in the tournament with customer Block Electric and Graybar’s own, Jeff Beutjer. The golf outing was put on to support Silver Cross’s new Open Heart Surgery Program that was unanimously granted by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board earlier this year.

One of the features of the golf outing this year was a free shot at a 2019 D’Arcy GMC SUV and $10,000 with a Hole-In-One. Little did Mark & Jeff know…. they would BOTH be inches from taking home both prizes! Check out both of their shots and just how close they were to being $10,000 richer in a new car…

Mark’s distance away from $10,000 (yes, he made the put)

 

Jeff’s distance from a new GMC SUV

 

It hurts to look at, doesn’t it?! Win or lose we are proud of these guys supporting our customers! Maybe next year…

12 Jun 2019

We try to keep our blog informative, useful, and as a resource for all of your information technology needs. But sometimes – we need to shake it up. We found some of the internet’s most cringe-worthy photos of cable management (Can you really even call these “management”?!) To our surprise, this seems to happen enough that there’s an entire social media site on Reddit roasting the worst structured cabling projects.  

 

Welcome to this week’s round up of the WORST cabling fails of all time. 

Here’s what NOT to do…. and if you ever find yourself in a situation like this, please call us.

 

Fail #1 – A Cry for Help

Our technicians might actually cry.

Credit: Reddit 

 

 

Fail #2 – “They Asked Me to Find TV 6”

Maybe check the Post Its on the wall….. 

Credit: Reddit

 

 

Fail #3 – Just Run 

“Yeah, it’s just the yellow cable on the right…..”

Credit: Reddit

 

 

Fail #4 – Found in a Building of Engineers 

Why? WHY?

Credit: Reddit 

 

 

Fail #5 – Guts Hanging Out 

Did it just move….?

Credit: Reddit

 

If your cabling looks even somewhat similar to images 1-5…. Have no fear! LVS is here

03 Jun 2019

The Association for Passive Optical LAN (APOLAN) recently unveiled 5 trends that are driving the replacement of copper-based networks with passive optical LAN in order to meet the connectivity demands of smart buildings. 

The Cloud:

As servers in buildings become less common, the demand for software-as-a-service (SaaS) are increasing because of the move to cloud based environments. Classic copper based LAN has a hard time keeping up with the pace requirement to carry traffic between computers in an organization. In contrast, POL environments are able to accommodate the shift effectively by connecting users/employees to their SaaS applications in the cloud. 

Data Growth:

An example of how data growth is pushing limits of traditional infrastructure is 4k video – and it continues to grow. The future is predicted to bring an abundance of growth in traditional business data, and even more growth in sensor data. Fiber is the 21st-century media for LAN. POL enables capacity growth at a fraction of the cabling and equipment required for classic LAN. This also decreases capital and operating expenses. 

IoT on the Rise:

A smart building isn’t a smart building if the sensors, devices, and systems in the building don’t connect efficiently to the LAN. Previous LAN technology was not designed to support networks robust enough to stay ahead of device growth. 

Density Demand:

WiFi continues to advance and carry more traffic to support a large number of devices in smaller areas. No matter how many devices one person has connected, they still expect to have fast accessibility. This number continues to increase rapidly and density will eventually become an issue for copper-based LAN.

Chair of the APOLAN’s marketing committee, Mario Blandini, commented, “A smart building can be thought of as an ecosystem, a dynamic entity with many devices of varying age that need to communicate and depend on each other. If a smart building’s ecosystem was the human body, passive optical LAN would be the central nervous system, transmitting vast amounts of data with seamless connectivity and communications, regardless of the various components in the network.”

From hospitality, education, government and healthcare, to corporate environments, POL allows buildings and campuses to achieve improved efficiency at a lower cost, and supports green buildings and more-efficient spaces by providing a future-proof and high-speed infrastructure to keep pace with today and tomorrow’s technology demands.

Referenced:

 

Interested in hearing more? Let’s chat. Get in touch with us here!

16 May 2019

In any organization or facility, security is a crucial portion of its day-to-day operation. Schools are no exception to that – they are subject to public interest and work to educate our youth and need to be protected on a more complex level. School administrators are legally and morally bound to implement protocols and protective measures for safety in their facilities. As there are multiple systems that make up a comprehensive security system, access control is one of the most used systems to protect from outside influences and secure areas. It is also proven to be the most effective system. It ensures that the school’s perimeter is secure and that all entries/exits are monitored in great detail.

Emergency Situations 

As school shootings are becoming more of a threat, it is critical for schools to take extreme measures in being prepared for the worst case scenario. It is important to have an access control system that locks exterior entrances in these emergency situations. They prevent dangerous people from entering the facility and give administrators the ability to lock all doors during certain hours with the click of a button. 

Monitoring All Movement 

Monitoring visitors is another important task in a schools security measures. There needs to be designated entry and exit points specifically for visitors to come in and out of during the school hours. That way, you are able to monitor the visitors movement throughout their time at the facility. From the time they enter the parking lot, their path needs to be clearly communicated with signage. Funneling them into the main office to “check-in” is deemed most successful in monitoring all movement. Keeping all other doors locked and having a buzzer system will keep the students and staff safe from outside threats. 

Safe Entry & Exit

In emergency situations, there needs to be a system in place that still allows police, medical professionals, etc to exit or enter the facility in a safe matter. There are specialized locks that can be used for both entry/exit within the school if students need to evacuate or if emergency personnel need to attend to a victim. These locks need to be strategic and communicated to all involved so there is a clear plan in place.

Things to Keep in Mind While Auditing Your School’s Access Control System:

  • Test the physical barriers in the building. Complete routine tests on auto-lock doors, magnetic doors, turnstiles, etc. It is important to ensure all are in proper working condition on a regular basis in case of emergency. 
  • Ensure all staff understands the importance of their identification devices and how keeping them secure at all times is critical to the students safety. Keeping an accurate and timely log will help keep the correct clearance levels for restricted areas.
  • Monitor Clearances. Keeping up with employee turnover and deactivating terminated employees access fobs is an important aspect of auditing. This needs to be done on a regular basis – more than a normal audit. Human Resources should be involved in this process regularly.
  • Make sure you have a contractor you can trust. Technology isn’t perfect and can make mistakes – Having a trusted partner to make sure everything is installed and maintained properly is just as important as the system itself. 
Reference:

Low Voltage Solutions would love to help audit your school’s current access control and security systems. As we lead into the summer months, our education projects are lined-up to complete before the start of the new year. Get in touch with us here!