je2 Case Study – Royal Opera House

Company: John Ellison Electronics Limited –
Key Industry: Engineering Consultancy
Key Sector: Professional Sound and Broadcast


John Ellison Electronics Limited (je2) performs specialist Engineering Consultancy work for the Sound and Broadcast industry, specifically for The Royal Opera House (ROH) in Covent Garden, London. 25 years ago je2 was established as a contractor to the Sound Department working on preparations and delivery of the £220m ROH re-development project. Working directly for the client, je2 specialised in Production Engineering and worked on the bespoke in-house designed Audio and Video Infrastructure. Since then je2 has grown and has been involved with many other projects for this wonderful Opera House.

The Challenge

Most recently je2 was instructed to perform the following specialist work:

  1. An Equipment Life Expectancy Assessment of the Media Suite – An in-house High Definition Broadcasting Production Suite complete with Studio Control Room or ‘Gallery’. The Media Suite was installed and commissioned approximately 12 years ago and has been in continuous service ever since. ROH Technical Production were looking to perform an equipment upgrade and wished to better understand the life expectancy of current key pieces of equipment. The conclusions of this ‘esoteric’ work would be presented to ROH Technical Production to shape future investment policy as the next key decisions would involve significant sums of money and technical challenges, so they needed to be made with as much knowledge as possible.
  2. An Electrical Review of the In-Service Rack Room Equipment – A detailed regulatory inspection of the Audio and Video fixed equipment situated in five Rack Rooms across this iconic building. The resulting report for the Sound and Broadcast ‘duty holder’ would secure continued adherence to statutory legal requirements.
  3. Assist the Sound and Broadcast Department with the ‘Open Up’ project – a £50.7m programme of works. The national press said: “The transformation has been akin to open-heart surgery while running a marathon”. The aim of this project was to give ROH a more visible and welcoming presence.

The Solution

  1. Calculating equipment life expectancy could be considered a largely speculative exercise and to a certain extent it is but, in this instance, it was important to make pragmatic decisions based on good Engineering principles. To this end je2, a Member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) sought peer review from fellow Engineers. The IET with over 168,000 Professionally Registered Engineers in 150 countries worldwide provided feedback which greatly assisted je2 with the task. Furthermore, with the assistance of Engineers at the Sound and Broadcast Department, key equipment was identified and classified. A risk matrix of vulnerability to failure against impact of failure was constructed by analysis of a whole host of technical information.
  2. The Electrical review encompassed five Rack Rooms situated on various levels within the building. These rooms house a large amount of technical equipment to perform show-related tasks such as: Audio Amplification, Video Distribution, Trunked Radio, Talkback and Paging. je2 made a detailed regulatory inspection and assessment of each piece of equipment (approximately 1,800 in total), the Racks themselves and the Rack Room environment as a whole. The Institution of Engineering (IET) publish a Code of Practice to help with this task and je2 has direct contact with their Technical Regulation Team responsible for its publication should questions of interpretation arise. Further, je2 enlisted a team of competent Test Technicians to perform electrical safety tests (to je2 specification) on each piece of equipment for confidence.
  3. The ‘Open Up’ project was the most significant development since the Royal Opera House re-opened in 2000. This time however the building would remain open whilst under construction. To help with this burden je2 was called upon to assist specifically with the Paging System challenges, primarily as we were part of the small team of Engineers that originally designed and built it. New areas within the building were being created and required services so we were on-hand to assist with design investigation, the manufacture process of new sound panels and conformance testing of the speaker driving relays.

The Result

  1. This work was detailed and demanding. The Equipment Life Expectancy Report submitted by je2 greatly assisted ROH Technical Production in making key policy decisions for investment and as a result a program of works is underway.
  2. Again, this work was detailed and demanding. The lengthy Regulatory Report submitted by je2 ensures the Sound and Broadcast Department In-Service Equipment meets with current legislation.
  3. The ‘Open Up’ project has been successful in creating a new front of house experience; the choice of materials and finishes beautifully complement the original Grade I listed building. The hidden Sound technology ensures every call or announcement is heard clearly and the new Learning and Participation Areas have the services they require.

John Ellison said: “This case study greatly simplifies what has been a mammoth task and has required an extensive team of dedicated in-house individuals and expert external resources to deliver.

“My Company has been heavily involved with the Royal Opera House for over 25 years and it has always been a great pleasure to be able to offer specialist technical services to such a National Treasure.”

To learn more on this extraordinary project, please click on the following link: HHBA – je2 and the Royal Opera House.

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