Integrators, Does Your Company Have A Test Bench?

From a software vendor and hardware manufacturer perspective I think it's common to have lab equipment available for training, testing and issue reproduction. But I find it's hit and miss among resellers & integrators.

Some of the people I've talked to have said they'd love to be able to test integrations or new/old cameras they've never used onsite before, but all they have is their company issued laptop and no additional equipment for testing purposes.

If you're an integrator, what is your justification for maintaining a lab which can be a costly expense? Or if you don't have anything available for testing software/cameras/integrations, is that a conscious choice?

I'm genuinely curious in the reseller perspective - there are legitimate pros and cons either way.


The last company I worked for regularly tested products. Sometimes they would try a specific scenario at a customer's request, sometimes we would try out a new product, and sometimes we would just get bored and explore stuff. Originally, we used the retail display to test stuff, but in my last months there, we built a dedicated test bench with a server and tools to test stuff out of the way of customers.

Joshua, the choice of the word 'lab' may make things more difficult / confusing? Do you mean only people who have a dedicated 'room' count? What about someone who has a rack of test equipment? Does that count?

Thanks John, the word "lab" was probably not the best choice. It could be a rack of test equipment, it could be a messy bench with some workstations - anything where you could load an OS, test some hardware/software, reproduce issues, prepare demonstrations etc. Basically do you have access to more than just your daily work laptop/computer for testing things?

I like "test bench" myself.

Ok, I changed it to bench.

I will vote-up, to the maximum extent allowed by law, any test bench pictures uploaded.

If you're an integrator, what is your justification for maintaining a bench which can be a costly expense?

In my experience the justification for keeping a bench was being able to test/pre-configure gear/check for DOAs/ that could prove very costly fixes in the field.

Project Management and project schedules are pretty tight with profits contingent on good planning and prep work. The focus is on execution, not problem solving.

An integrator should always test and proof a product before they offer it up to a client, after all, your selling your expertise and expertise demands that you know what your recommending inside and out.

We do. We have a router, POE switch, plenty of outlets, desktop PC, and a couple monitors.

The router allows us to static ip devices without messing with our network.

My guys love it!

You should...

There great for pre-work that best done in the shop and not outside or inside with the world and your client watching...

Yes we do have a space that has become the test bench / camera lab of sorts. Nothing terribly formal but when we moved into a newer larger office a portion of the drawing / plan room made sense to stick our equipment bench and cover it with tech stuff. I like using the area to set up our portable lighting support fixture which I routinely use to deliver on site camera demo's for customers. The room has no windows so it is suitable for low light evaluation under control conditions. a few of the service techs will stop by to look at new cameras before they see it in the field. We have also been able to do a fair amount of troubleshooting using gear we already have in our test area. The manufacture RSM's that call on our office have seen this set up so they know when we ask for a demo loaner camera it will get set up and pushed hard so a win win in my eyes.

We have a comfortable testing "area". We invite customers to test, operate, check out components or entire IP camera systems prior to purchase. We also offer our facility to larger customers that maintain a technical staff and need training. We maintain 98% of IP video system components that we sell running in our testing area at all times. This approach has sold several enterprise systems as customers seem to like seeing what they are getting and having the ability to actually "touch" devices.

Have had a build bench / test bench / build room since day1. I see it as critical to what we do. Granted, we went a bit overboard on the buildroom for the new office....

2x 4K monitors, 3X 1080p monitors, 480 PoE ports, about 80 outlets, 5 power circuits, tied into the office camera and access control network and provisions for CVI/TVI/SDI/Analog/IP testing.

Its on the right in the back in glass in this rendering.

unfortunately, this is the only pic I have of it in real life as of yet...

We have multiple test bench areas where we are constantly testing, configuring or troubleshooting IP video, access, intrusion, wireless and anything else I can get my hands on. We have around 100 IP cameras from different manufacturers that we test with multiple VMS and NVRs along with all the Mercury and HID boards we test with different access control platforms. It is extremely useful for us to use this tool to configure and test different scenarios or replicate service issues.

For many of the reasons listed above it's always a good idea to have a test bench area. In addition we keep validated equipment around for regression testing, firmware updates, etc. If you don't have the space you can always just take over the desk next to you, but you may incur the wrath of your office manager.

*don't mind the shopping carts, we might frequent the nearby liquor store.

This is the first comment I've ever voted Agree, Informative, and Funny. Trifecta.

Love the camera rack...

That's a pretty sweet setup. And I've long been an advocate for greater use of shopping carts in the surveillance industry.

Do you keep any diagnostic equipment on hand?

Yeah that's what the desk drawers are for :)

Lol at shopping cart efficiency

::slow clap::

very nice indeed. totally understand too. our office is next door to a brewery, we have a bunch of pint glasses laying around for "optics testing".

Where's the A1001?

;)

If I'm not mistaken, that is a Vintage Batcam with leather louvers, with rose gold patina, and inverted museum mount. Kudos!

The Batcam is ever watchful, always vigilant. Museum mounting is the only way to go but I'm lazy and the hot water pipes are really high up so this should be considered a hack job at best.

Small form computers such as Intel NUC has brought myself the most value. I can take that work bench home, to the field and even leave it with a customer to test drive whatever application is needed. As long as the issue reproduction is in the physical server realm you have a real chance of taking your lab anywhere. Cost varies on the amount of horsepower needed. I used to have 1 now I have 3 in my roller bag, set up is quick and I can leave one at a job site on my own network and have a PACs system dialed in before power is available.

In regards to manufacturer hardware such as ACS panels and IP cameras the answer is yes a lab can be very useful if your engineers and service manager do not have their head stuck somewhere.

I am mostly in design and project adaptation however I am able to fund the mobile lab personally to feed my inner geek, I find this more satisfying and engaged than most application engineers that fly all over taking one week crash course certifications in every product under the sun.

Small business owner here.

I certainly do have a test bench. It is mine and my business partners homes.

We regularly test alternative products to ensure we are still installing the best (in our opinion) systems at our price point.

We do spend a bit on R&D for a small company but you have to be able to tear apart other products if you want to sell yours!