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10 steps to choosing a suitable automation system

The intention of this paper is to provide a list of aspects that will allow evaluating an automation system and determining the one that is most suitable for today and for its subsequent transition to digital.

Since the advent of automation systems, much of this technology has changed, and what we call by the term "automation" is quite different from its original meaning. Automation originally referred to automation, through control software, in the master control of air outlet. As the system developed, automation also included the control of machines and many other accessories, such as VTR's, character generators, and now, video servers. Today the systems are widely available and generally very reliable. This being the case, how can you distinguish between systems and determine which is the right system for a particular operation? In addition to this, as in the Latin American industry, and in the whole world, the transition to digital systems happens, what challenges will arise in terms of automation systems and how will the sellers of these systems make their deals?

The intention of this paper is to provide a list of aspects that will allow to evaluate an automation system and determine the one that is most suitable for them today and for their subsequent transition to digital.

1. Complete integrated solutions

Always remember: Your automation system is not an island within your operation. Automation runs its programming on the air, but it must be integrated with traffic, billing, planning, and streaming to deliver real efficiency savings.

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Today standard interfaces are available to integrate business applications and over-the-air transmission applications, and future systems need to go much further in the interactive process. If you need to make changes to your scheduling schedule after you're in an automation system, those changes need to be made in sales and traffic, and they need to be done electronically, not on paper. Selecting an automation system that is linked to a station's business systems is a critical aspect.

In addition, you should ask if the automation system can be controlled remotely. The workstations of an automation system must be available to be located throughout its entire operation. Traffic, accounts, sales and planning will benefit from the ability to monitor and work with automation software.

Finally, within the integration topic – How many separate databases are there on your station? Moving to a common database is essential to allow other departments to share the information.

2. Standardization

Establishing common patterns is fundamental for product development, and the application of a technologically standardized time system will allow future expansion and support.

3. Adaptability for operators

A system must have the ability to adjust its operational flow to minimize training times. You cannot afford to alter your operation to suit the way the automation system works.

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4 Easy to use

Some automation companies have maintained online editors as the most effective way to communicate with the operator, while others have chosen GUI devices to run some of their operations. It's not a good or bad decision, but traders must work with many interfaces before deciding which one best suits their operations.

5. Build as you grow

Automation systems that offer step-by-step solutions will provide your operation, systematically and orderly, with the transition to a fully automated station. They will replace the transportation system with a video server solution, and in this way, they will take their continuously growing station towards full automation with the best cost benefit.

6. Video Server Management

A video server solution needs to be carefully evaluated when moving to a tape-free environment as a recording medium. Can the solution take a worklist from the traffic unit? Can you add and remove material automatically? Do you work with a common database of information shared by others in the automation environment and is it available for the rest of the broadcast operation?

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7. Complete unit of preparation tools

Before a system can execute the airborne job, the material must be properly prepared. From the moment the material arrives at the station, how does the automation system record it, give it time and prepare it for broadcasting? Does the preparation process make information available to all departments?

8. Ability to bring teams together in a Multichannel environment

More and more stations are going to have many operating channels outside the same station. The union of teams reduces the need to increase the cost capital for this area. Sharing VTR's, character generators and video servers is simply saving money.

9. Analog today Digital tomorrow

Today, his plans likely include keeping an analog channel on the air. In the future, you will launch one or more digital channels. Can an automation system control multiple channels, make regional links, and direct the complex operations of a digital environment?

10. Digital Transmission

Digital transmission requires a closed link between transmission control and automation control. At the origin of an analog signal, once the material leaves the master control, it is sent to the transmitter. However, in digital broadcasting, once the signal leaves the master control, it is sent to a separate area: the digital transmission area. Here the signal is sent through encoders and multiplexers. It is in this process that the material is adjusted to the appropriate transmission parameters (resolutions, bit rats, data, electronic program information, channel identifiers, audience ratings, etc.) This information is maintained in the database of the automation layer (driven by traffic). Last-minute changes in digital must be coordinated not only between the place of origin of the signal but also with the production parameters. Linking your automation environment to the transmission environment, all done by traffic, is a complex model that once directed, will save operational costs.

Beyond technology

As a final thought, you should also be aware that automation is not just about technology. Support and service are very important matters. One of the most common complaints from broadcasters for years has been the difficulty of suppliers taking responsibility for problems that arise when equipment from different manufacturers does not work properly when working together. From their point of view, the last thing you'll want to do is have to act as an arbiter between the automation company and the supplier of the equipment that doesn't work. Ideally, you want to make a call and let the problem be solved. Look for an automation company that has the will and ability to take on this level of responsibility.

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