How to protect your AV project from the fallout of the microchip shortage

We’re all aware of the microchip shortage that’s causing issues in so many industries at the moment, and unfortunately the AV industry is no exception. In addition to factory closures due to COVID-19, in recent months we’ve faced storms in Texas, fires at major plants in Japan, power restrictions to factories in China, a shortage of truck drivers, customs delays at ports, rising fuel costs…the list of factors contributing to AV supply chain delays seems endless.

As with the toilet paper fiasco last year and the more recent petrol pandemonium, stockpiling has played a not-insignificant part in leading to these shortages, coupled with a massive increase in demand for technology products in both consumer and professional markets. Unfortunately for our industry, China, where so much of the world’s video displays are produced, has been amongst the areas worst hit.

In the UK this has meant that we have seen lead times for certain audio-visual products increase dramatically, with manufacturers warning that some products will not become readily available until early 2022. Prices are also going up because of the rising costs of raw materials and transportation. Optimistic reports predict that these issues could last at least another six months, but it could take years to build sufficient sustainable production capacity to meet the increased demand.

The effect of all of this on AV integrators and our clients is that project plans and costings are at risk of becoming outdated within weeks or even days of being produced, with products suddenly becoming unavailable and lead times potentially being extended beyond the project’s proposed finish date.

There’s no denying that these are challenging times for everyone but having a strong relationship with an established and reputable AV integration company can make all the difference in protecting your next AV installation from the fallout of the microchip shortage. Here’s how…

Keeping you informed

Project management and purchasing teams at AV companies have spent their careers developing relationships with manufacturers. Because we’re in touch with suppliers daily, we are the first to receive information on new products and technology, be warned about possible issues with supply and get updates on the availability of products from distribution warehouses.

Planning your project around the availability of key components

A good AV company should put a detailed proposal for your AV system together, taking all the factors described above into consideration, and suggest mitigating actions that will minimise risk to a project timeline and budget. We know where the stock is sitting in warehouses, what items to avoid, and can work around the extended lead-times by project managing to allow for the late arrival of certain products in your new AV system. Alternatively, if your preferred products aren’t available, we can provide alternative solutions that deliver the capabilities you need.

Giving you the benefit of our buying power

Simply put, AV integrators are the manufacturers best clients, so we have more bargaining power than most individual clients. In some cases, we may also have bid pricing in place for popular products and may be able to access reserved stock at fixed prices. In addition to being able to negotiate the best prices from manufacturers, AV integrators are also well-versed in organising international shipping and transportation and may be able to reduce costs in these areas.

Keeping your tech in top condition

Maintaining your existing and new technology has never been more important. The last thing you need during a product shortage is for systems to go down or to need to replace products due to poor maintenance. Completed AV projects should always be supplied with a service and/or support contract . As part of this contract, a good AV provider matches the differing warranties on the products to ensure that the whole system can run uninterrupted for a specified period. They can also hold spares for the products in your system – to facilitate quick repairs and minimise downtime – and track when products are approaching end of life when they will no longer be supported by the manufacturer.

Even with all these benefits that an AV integration partner provides, it’s important for AV managers and project teams to take the current situation into account when planning your next integration project. Where possible, increase the contingency in your schedules to give your AV partner as much time as possible to work around the supply issues, so we can help you bring your project home on time and on budget.

Get in touch with Anna Valley to discuss your next audio visual project today.