Ongoing changes in technology, demography, and consumer expectations continue to disrupt the insurance industry. Many insurers are responding by reimagining their internal operations and business strategies to keep pace with change outside the industry and remain on the cutting edge.
This is why QBE Insurance Group (QBE) sought to consolidate its existing premises into one ﬂexible working environment using the latest technologies into a unified easy-to-use solution, under the programme of works called “Advance”.
This is what QBE was looking for when it approached Pyramid AV, who won the contract to supply, install and support the new systems for QBE’s ﬂagship offices. As the project required so many technologies to be brought together, Pyramid AV worked with Midwich and Owl Visual given there were a number of vendor products involved, which demonstrated Midwich’s ability to combine these and over seamless solutions to the customer and end-users.
QBE Insurance Group employs more than 14,500 people in 37 countries, and is one of the world’s top 20 general insurance and reinsurance companies, with operations in all key insurance markets.
The project needed to be delivered with the minimum disruption and as-close-to-zero downtime as possible. Split over two ﬂoors of its European Headquarters in The City of London, the project included a public facing suite of meeting spaces, reception, Town Hall/events area plus a large ﬂexible dual divisible meeting room.
The core requirement was to refurbish and integrate QBE’s existing London premises to create a ﬂexible working environment, as well as enhance the ﬂexibility of the space as much as possible. Specified by an experienced AV consultant, this 37-week programme was a significant project delivered by specialist integrator Pyramid AV, ISG and CBRE alongside QBE’s dedicated team over a three-phase programme.
The successful integration of multiple technologies, required technical support throughout the project. Because Midwich has an extremely close working relationship with manufacturers, the team maintains specific and detailed product knowledge and this up-to-date experience means that any integration challenges were highlighted at an extremely early stage in the project, preventing surprises close to the delivery date.
Overall during this complex install, there was a need to ensure interoperability of four different vendors’ technologies which was a significant challenge over a limited timescale.
QBE’s consultant had selected a video switching and control suite from US manufacturer AMX. At the heart of the system is an AMX centralised control system with a DGX 64 x 64 Matrix, as well as multiple AMX central control processors for standalone meeting rooms, linked with localised AMX touch panels and a Condeco room booking panel for every meeting space. The existing Cisco VC network has been considerably expanded, a process which required the addition of multiple new endpoints for various new meeting room locations.
The reception area is a focal point for the AV installation, with a stunning five screen video ‘Window on the World’ display powered by a tvONE video wall processor and fed by a Onelan 4K digital signage player designed to impress clients and partners alike.
The broker’s lounge
Connected to the reception area is The Brokers Lounge, a ﬂexible space that required more discreet AV provision. The agreed solution is a ceiling based NEC PA622U Projector mounted on a Future Automation lift and complimented by a 3-meter-wide, tab tensioned, ceiling recessed DaLite screen, complete with five full HD mobile relay screens. The audio solution combined K-array KT2 satellites and KU26 Subwoofers providing the full range of coverage split into distinct zones, which can be switched on or oﬀ in seven zone combinations, depending upon preference of layouts and meetings.
Town hall and meeting rooms
Wrapped around the reception area, there are a number of client facing meeting rooms, the largest of which is a 14-person dual divisible meeting room with a unique ‘Skyfall’ acoustic walling system. This room contains a combination of wired and wireless inputs selectable on the AMX touch screen in conjunction with two Samsung 75” HD screens, with touch screen overlay, and a Panasonic projection system. All together a very ﬂexible space for meetings and or events.
In addition, the main offices benefited from 45 newly created meeting rooms of varying capacities plus AV/VC equipped single office spaces, totalling 60 rooms. Notably all of these rooms were booked and in use from 9 am on the first day of business at every handover stage.
Multiple Cisco VC systems are deployed alongside wholesale AMX controls, centralised DGX matrix backbone as well as in room audio systems, using a combination of QSC amps and processing, interactive screen overlays for collaboration and a centralised room booking systems by Condeco.
The Midwich Technical Team - now 15 strong - provided technical assistance during pre-sales and post-sales technical support to support Pyramid with the large and complex project. In partnership with Owl Visual, Midwich Technical highlighted potential integration issues and discontinued products and recommended alternatives. Due to the nature of the client, and the volume of customer facing areas being refitted, out of hours work was essential. Midwich and Owl Visual was responsible for product supply.
The final result is a more productive London office, with increased video conferencing usage, large projection systems and centralised room booking system. All this can be rolled out to other sites across the globe, so that employees have the same experience whether in London or Sydney.
Peter Stansfield, Project Advance Programme Manager, QBE said:
“Pyramid delivered our integrated AV and VC solutions alongside QBE’s dedicated teams with an exceptional eye for detail, delivering to budget, managing timescales in sometimes challenging situations, working with us to reduce the pressures of migrating a large workforce across numerous sites, and ultimately ensuring that Advance met its complicated goals on time, and with complete customer satisfaction.
"I could rely on an honest appraisal at all times from Pyramid that often provided me with the clearest impression of the true nature of the situation onsite, in terms of meeting our deliverables. An excellent and dedicated partner.”
Kelly Hinchliﬀe, Operations Director, Pyramid AV said:
“We turned to Midwich as a reliable, trustworthy supplier who was able to provide us with the technologies we required to fulfil this project. They oﬀered technical support when required and are very responsive and ﬂexible, as well as oﬀering a wide range of products, across all of the major platforms. We are a demanding customer, but we trust Midwich and Owl Visual to deliver.”
Ed Martin, Senior Technical Specialist, Midwich Technical Team said:
“QBE had a legacy office environment, with a wide selection of older technology, much of which was stand alone. The insurance firm needed to address specific needs too, such as the need for personnel to be able to work ﬂexibly, and deliver best-in class presentations to their customer base and potential partners. The complete refurbishment of two ﬂoors of their ﬂagship HQ offices delivered on both of these needs, as well as allowing them to integrate across their offices, saving considerable time, money and logistical resource.”
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