There’s a backhanded compliment that’s made its way around AV circles that the great thing about AV standards is there’s so many of them.
But the standards that should matter most are the satisfaction of the customer, making sure what designers and integrators deliver is exactly what customers want. Enter the Association for Quality in Audio Visual Technology, a non-profit organization that’s focused on improving the quality of AV installations across the board.
The all-volunteer association launched about eight years ago and started with a checklist used by Audio Visual Resources, says Mario Maltese, executive director of AQAV and CEO of Audio Visual Resources.
AQAV added buyers, integrators, programmers and designers to their AV standards committee and created the AV 9000 standard, based on ISO 9000. It’s now been applied in about 10,000 systems with a battery of tests at every stage.
How AQAV Improves AV Standards
The association includes about 500 members, including designers, integrators and buyers, with most of those coming from the corporate higher education verticals.
“AV is very difficult to test, because you very rarely find an implementation without a punchlist,” says Maltese. “AV needed more quality management. When you catch the defects upstream, the corrections you make are a lower cost.”
More buyers are “insisting” on AQAV verification of their installations, says Maltese. Buyer memberships are free and include an annual update to the AV 9000 standard as technology changes. The association website includes a calculator that tells all parties the cost of poor quality, says Maltese, and the AV 9000 standard focuses on the buyer.
AQAV based its standards testing on what’s done in the aerospace, auto and telecommunications industries.
“It’s transparent to what technology is used. The value comes when they review the findings of the written report with people who put the system in,” he says. “That way, they’re aware of what the defects are and they stop putting them in. The costs drop dramatically, because the defects are what cause profits to go out the window.
“Most of the problems you have, the costs are hidden. It’s about hours, sending the tech back to the shop for a particular piece, time spent arguing with the customer about some piece of it. All that wasted time is wasted money. If you’re not tracking it at all, it can be 30 percent of sales.”
Maltese understands AQAV isn’t for everyone—but it should be.
“The fear of peer evaluation scares some people away, but others welcome it,” he says. “What we do is quality assurance on an AV system. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. Everyone has the right intentions, but life gets in the way. If they feel like they can get paid doing mediocre work, that’s what they do.”
AQAV is accepting applications for four scholarships for CQD or CQT training through the end of August. Training focuses on auditing the AV system through design and installation while also verifying what was built is what the customer wants.
All applicants for the three-day AQAV training program should have a CTS and about two to four years of testing.