Camera Commissioning Labor Standards

By Brian Rhodes, Published Dec 01, 2014, 12:00am EST

Adding to our Camera Install Labor Standards, IPVM has established standards for the following two common scenarios:

  • "How many manhours would you estimate to: Configure an uninstalled camera, ie: IP addressing, firmware updates, basic image settings? Why? What would impact this?"
  • "How many manhours would you estimate to Aim and Focus a camera? Why? What factors impact this"

Based on global integrator survey results, we provide an average number of hours, the range of hours estimated, and the key factors impacting the time to do so. Importantly, differences in manufacturers and feature sets provided had a material impact on these results, as shown inside.

Camera Adjustment Averages

We averaged the responses for two common camera installation activities into a 'global average' value. Those are given below:

  • Preconfiguration: 0.5 manhours per camera
  • Aim & Focus: 0.6 manhours per camera

In the sections that follow, we examine each location in greater detail, showing the full spread of votes and color commentary from response that illustrate the results.

Our questions made no distinction between the estimate being for a sales/service call, or as part of a bidded project. However, that situation could impact how much time is estimated purely on the logistics of moving tools, setting up, or otherwise 'making a job worthwhile'.

Preconfiguring Settings

For this question, we asked "How many manhours would you estimate to: Configure an uninstalled camera, ie: IP addressing, firmware updates, basic image settings? Why? What would impact this?"

The average of all answers is 0.5 manhours per camera for preconfiguration work.  The full spread of answers is shown below:

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Specific Brands Matter

The strongest theme responses mention is that prior familiarity with a camera interface and controls layout matters. Several comments noted that familiar brands get one estimate, but less familiar get a longer value:

  • "Camera make and customer needs would have the largest impact on time. Some brands are easier to configure."
  • "1 hour with experience technician and if the camera is a known unit (we are using 99% JVC cameras, so with them)."
  • "1-2 hours. Unless it is a brand we are unfamiliar with. Then 3-4 hours."
  • "0.5 to 1 Hour each - some camera manufacturers are more difficult to get the upgrades than others."
  • "Axis or Avigilon complete would be the least time. Anything else I'd add time."
  • "About an hour but it depends on who gives you the camera and what they already know about it and if its a brand your familiar with."

Bad Quality Adds Time

Another key driver is that cameras with a poor quality reputation take more time to install correctly. In some cases, this directly offsets any product price savings from buying a discount brand.

  • "Few minutes only, unless it's Arecont as their software also not very reliable."
  • "Biggest factor is the make & model of camera. Some are a real POA."
  • "We have done some junk brand cameras that have taken 2 hours or more to get right."
  • "With an Axis, Avigilon, Sony or Samsung, it'd be .15 of configuration time per camera before the physical install takes place. With any other brand, we will budget .25."

No Distributor Config Services

Notably, none of our responders indicated they take advantage of 'pre configuring' services commonly promoted by distributors. Although not available from all distributors, the service is promoted by the market leaders as a key example of the 'value add' they bring to the sales chain. Just a few examples of the configuration services from prominent companies are: ADI [link no longer available], Anixter [link no longer available], Scansource, Norbain [link no longer available]

Aim & Focus

The next question asked "How many manhours would you estimate to Aim and Focus a camera? Why? What factors impact this", in order to nail down the time it takes to physically adjust the camera for use once mounted.  For estimates of mounting labor only, see our Camera Labor Estimation Standard for those values.

The average of all answers is 0.59 manhours per camera for aiming and focusing.  The full spread of answers is shown below:

Remote Focus

Those listing the shorter times often listed remote focus and zoom as a key element:

  • "We use all cameras with remote focus and zoom so on average regardless of where the cameras are in any of the above scenarios we would average 15 minutes each."
  • "Impacting factors: - Autofocus on camera (i.e. Axis):
  • "Most cameras we install are remote focus so just need to aim these days but say 1hr"
  • "0.25 hours - All cameras we deploy are auto focus, aiming is only requirement"
  • "Variables such as auto focus and vari-focal would impact amount of time but even worse case scenario would take less than 30 minutes."
  • "0.5 hours for auto/remote focus is of course much easier."
  • "0.25 for most cameras. We don't add any to the labor for P and Q series Axis cameras, which allow for remote back focus from the browser."

Install Monitors Valuable

Many responses noted the efficiency benefit of equipping the installer with tools to 'see what the camera sees' at the point of install. Giving installers these tools eliminate an awkward operation, usually by radio or phone, with another installer who can see the camera at a viewing client. It also cuts out the need to climb up and down from a ladder if a single man operation:

  • "If the Necessary device like handheld monitors are available we hard talk 15 Min to focus the cameras."
  • "'I'd probably figure 10-15 minutes for most cameras mounted at a reasonable height (8 to 12 feet). The installer can use a test monitor or focus meter most of the time, but they're not perfect and sometimes several trips are needed."
  • "No more than 1 MH per camera if accessible from a ladder. I use a veracity pinpoint and surface 2 tablet so time really isn't lost using that equipment."
  • "We bid 1 hour each camera, although if the tech can see views from an install tool on top of the ladder, it takes even less."
  • "Having the proper equipment (laptop or test tool, PoE etc. is key at the camera."
  • "Common factors which can impact time used to aim and focus a camera: time to boot up technician's laptop, time for camera to boot up after hooking up laptop, technician must deal with bulky computer on top of ladder."
  • "Installation view monitors make a big difference here, Its faster than a tech on the ladder and another telling him by radio where to fix things."

Customer Approvals

The biggest cost driver is when the customer is deciding for the first time what they would like the camera to be focused on. Multiple responses echoed the delay and frustration of re-aiming and refocusing multiple times or waiting to discussing such a major element of system design until the last minute:

  • "Biggest variable is whether the customer knows what they want to see in the scene."
  • "1 hour if manual focus, .5 hours if remote. This assumes pre-arranged contact ready at specified time to approve image."
  • "There is additional time built into our projects to do 50% of the cameras again at 1/2 hour per camera simply because we don't do a very good job of relaying the owners wishes to our technicians."
  • "This is where "decision maker" of what needs to be seen is hardly ever inline with what the your thinking is. I had them tell me "go ahead you know better than me" and go back and reposition all of them."
  • "15 minutes to aim and focus plus 45 minutes to re-aim and focus after customer input."
  • "Depends if everything is set, ladders, negotiated with customer where he wants camera to aim."
  • "If it requires focusing then later adjustment as a mass group with other cameras with a consultant, I would double the time."
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