MCS made it to the finals of the 2019 InAVation Awards with its outstanding work at a new BMW and Mini showroom in Sheffield, UK.
At the end of 2017, car dealership company Sytner Group opened a new BMW and Mini showroom in Sheffield, UK.
An extensive digital signage network, accompanied by networked audio system, was
installed throughout customer facing areas as well as various back-office areas and meeting rooms by AV integrator MCS.
MCS has broad experience in supplying highend AV and networked data cabling systems to automotive retail projects and has worked with a huge range of dealerships. The company has worked with Sytner Group since 2003, carrying our more than 250 projects for the client over those 15 years.
Peter Huxley, group project manager at the Sytner Group, outlines why that relationship has endured: “Having worked with MCS as our primary AV systems provider for many years, we have come accustomed to solid technical expertise, delivered in a professional manner and always focused on the priority of ensuring that our customers and staff have the very best AV experience possible.”
For this project, MCS proposed a system that met the retail standards required by BMW and Mini, as well as offering a few firsts when it came to technology and experience.
Before work started on site, MCS’s technical department had to liaise extensively with Sytner Group’s IT department to negotiate requirements regarding AV equipment that would interface with the dealership’s network.
“Everything that we do in terms of AV sits on a dedicated network that we set up ourselves,” clarifies Marc Hatton, managing director of MCS.
“There is an interface with their network for control and diagnostic purposes but we don’t sit AV hardware on the same network that they use for their day-to-day operations.”
AV distribution is handled by a Wyrestorm NetworkHD system. It was initially meant to
feed 23 LG displays from 8 sources.
However, as the project progressed, its scope increased dramatically.
“We ended up with 48 LG displays and a total of 17 sources,” says Hatton. “Obviously that required ongoing reworking on how we could achieve that. We had to add more networking hardware, additional receivers, and additional transmitters. The Wyrestorm kit was very good at scaling up and works very well in that kind of environment.”
The final Wyrestrom NetworkHD system comprised 17 100-series transmitters, 48
100-series receivers and a 100-series controller.
One of Sytner Group’s key objectives was to provide a welcoming environment that
encourages people to stay in the dealership and look around. That encompasses a whole range of areas including lighting, furniture, refreshments and WiFi availability.
“That’s then augmented and enhanced by sound,” notes Hatton.
To meet this requirement, MCS installed more than 100 Penton
loudspeakers: 96 RCS 6-in ceiling speakers inside and ten Penton CELL sound projectors outside.
The units are powered by Cloud amplification and control comprising a DCM1 digital control zone mixer, CXV425 and CXA6 amplifiers and CDR-1 control panel.
“There’s a BMW music concierge service so it plays from a set playlist rather than
just the radio,” adds Hatton.
The audio is supported by LG LV340C commercial displays, which range from 49- to 75-in and show short films and promotional materials.
These are mounted on a mix of Sanus ML11s and LL11s, B-Tech BT8310 brackets and
Unicol pole mounts.
Consultation booths are situated throughout the dealership, enabling customers to sit down with sales advisors to discuss requirements such as car configuration, finances and specification. Each of the 15 booths has a 49-in LG display.
Hatton elaborates: “One of the reasons we used Wyrestorm NetworkHD was to handle
Virtual Product Placement (VPP). This allows a very detailed product build to take place when a customer is serious about buying a car and selecting specifications.”
“Historically, because content runs from a dedicated server, this would have to happen at one or two dedicated positions.”
“We’ve now given Sytner Group the facility to dynamically move where that takes
place to any of their consultation lounges. That is a first within the whole of the BMW dealership franchise network.”
Control is handled by an RTI XP-6 control processor, accessed via an Apple iPad, and allows staff to choose where BMW Virtual Product Presentation appears on a total of ten displays through the dealership.
The iPad also offers control of audio source and level.
All the signage throughout the dealership can be set into an events mode for special occasions such as a new product launch.
“This allows, for example, outside events companies to come in,” elaborates
“It’s very easy for an external company to run content across all or any of the displays.”
One of the highlights of the project is the Reveal Room where customers come to collect their new car.
The room at Sheffield builds on one MCS delivered to Mini in Tamworth, another UK town, where they used moving head lights and audio to add a theatrical element to
the moment a customer sees their car for the first time.
“For Sheffield we were asked to expand on that,” says Hatton. “We again used moving head lights but with additional effects including light batons, smoke and lasers. We’ve had a great response for that from customers and staff.”
The lighting rig includes Chauvet Professional COLORado Batten 72 Tour batten-style
wash lights, COREPar UltraViolet COB LEDs, Intimidator Scan 305 IRC laser scanners and moving head spot LEDs; a Laserworld Diode Series unit RGB1800; Acme 100 Waterwave projectors and a Martin Rush Club smoke system.
On the control side, MCS has deployed Lutron’s Grafik Eye Dali lighting control.
For audio, Cloud ceiling speakers have been used, supported by LD Systems Maui 11 G2 column loudspeakers.
Audio distribution is handled by an RTI AD-4X with control managed by CYP AU-IP21 IP audio controllers.
The main visual elements are supported by an additional LG 32-in LV340C display, fed by a Brightsign XD233 4K media player.
Staff set up and control the show with an RTI KX-7 in-wall touchscreen panel which instructs an RTI XP-8S control processor.
“Within each handover bay there’s an RTI touchscreen where you can pre set up the bay ready for handover,” explains Hatton.
“We designed and built a calibration mode so you place the car on the turntable and then actually use the theatrical lights as the calibration mechanism that makes sure the car is physically facing head on and precisely centralised upon the turntable.
“The sales executive then sets up the colour and the music they want to use. The car is hidden from view with a blind. When the customer is in the showroom, it’s then just a case of pressing a button on the wall controller. That takes care of house lights, plays countdown music, raises the blind and starts the turntable revolving.”
“All of this is accompanied by a unique sound and light show.”
Behind the scenes MCS also integrated AV systems into a boardroom.
Here, LG 86-in consumer displays are mounted with Peerless-AV PT632 cantilever brackets.
Kramer VM-2HXLs act as distribution amplifiers for the HDMI links
to the displays.
As automotive showrooms increasingly turn to AV technology to transform the retail
experience, engage with customers and create pleasant environments, it becomes harder for them to standout.
The reveal room shows how technologies – currently more likely to be found in a nightclub – can be deployed to great effect and allow Mini to differentiate itself
from its competitors and be remembered by its customers.
While that’s the most theatrical element of the installation, the work MCS has
done to offer staff the flexibility to show VPP on any consultation display is likely to have a big impact on the sales process.
Huxley has the final word: “MCS consistently demonstrate their ability to engage emerging technologies, fully evaluating, prior to incorporating them within their AV portfolio, this together with their established track record of project delivery across multiple high-end marques makes them an ideal partner to place our trust in.”