AC-ET Delivers the Goods for Aberdeen’s New P&J Live Venue

The Press and Journal Energy Ball 2019 at P&J Live. Picture by KENNY ELRICK 30/11/2019

A.C. Entertainment Technologies Ltd (AC-ET) has supplied over 11,400 items of professional equipment forming the main technical infrastructure for P&J Live at TECA – the new largest events venue in the North of Scotland.

Replacing the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC), P&J Live offers state-of-the-art, world-class conference and exhibition facilities for organisers and delegates across the globe, as well as a massive performance arena – all under one roof.

Located next to Aberdeen International Airport and with excellent domestic transport connections, the venue is expected to become a major events hub. The £333 million, purpose-built development is the single largest UK investment of its kind and includes a four-star Hilton Hotel, 150-seater restaurant and sustainable energy centre onsite – providing truly 21st century amenities.

Operated and managed by ASM Global, P&J Live features 48,000 sq metres of flexible, multi-purpose floor space across its main Arena and Baker Hughes Exhibition and Conference Hub.

Designed to provide clients with premier lighting and audiovisual production services in-house, when it came to delivering a state-of-the-art technical infrastructure for the venue’s exhibition, conference and banquet spaces, it was essential to invest in the most up-to-date technologies available.

Following a series of demos and discussions, AC-ET was awarded supply of venue-wide loose equipment and flexible house lighting for the spaces, which include: 6,000 sq metres of multi-purpose exhibition and event halls sub-divisible into three 2,000 sq metre rooms – including banqueting capacity for 1,250 guests on round tables; four conference suites of over 1,500 sq metres of sub-divisible space for lectures and seminars, classroom-based training sessions, board meetings, banquet and cabaret events with a side / end stage and dance floor; plus 33,000 sq metres of 7.5-metre high subterranean car park space available for events if required.

The overall day-to-day management of this huge, months-long project was handled on AC-ET’s side by the highly experienced Mike Docksey in the company’s external sales team, and on P&J Live’s side by the equally knowledgeable Deputy Operations Manager Technical, Steve Morrison.

Mike worked closely with AC-ET’s UK Sales and Purchasing Director, Jonathan Walters and the in-house lighting, rigging, audio, video and cable divisions’ product experts to quote on or assist with, the specification of thousands of individual product lines. The project also involved collaboration with the venue’s team of in-house production experts, who provide dedicated technical services and support for each event.

One of the largest single client orders received by AC-ET, the project took full advantage of the company’s position as a single-source supplier of entertainment lighting, rigging, video, audio, power and distro, cabling and consumables technologies – and its access to large stocks of the latest product lines from many industry-leading brands in a portfolio of over 200.

Over 30 marques were supplied, including Chroma-Q, PROLIGHTS, Tourflex Cabling, SIXTY82, Green Hippo, Panasonic, Draper, Analog Way, Doughty, Avolites, Robe, Tourmate, Sony, Datapath, Shure, Columbus McKinnon, Gravity, and Wireless Solutions.

With the scale of equipment involved, and tight lead times both during the quotation and supply stages, it was a major logistical challenge to deliver the thousands of items in time to meet the venue’s official opening date and client events already booked.

The impressive lighting infrastructure features over 900 lighting fixtures, the majority of which are energy-efficient LED sources. Over 140 Chroma-Q fixtures include Color Force II LED cyc and wash battens, and the first DMX version of the Inspire RGBW LED house and theatrical lighting system, which can be re-configured on movable truss for banquet, cabaret and other events. In addition, over 700 PROLIGHTS fixtures cover the majority of other lighting requirements. Pixie WashXB moving LED wash lights provide high quality table and atmospheric lighting for large events alongside Lumipix16H battens. The extensive list of other PROLIGHTS LED units includes moving profiles, ellipsoidals, Fresnels, PARs and battery uplighters.

The fixtures are mounted on over 300 pieces of SIXTY82 truss and corners permanently or temporarily installed in each space. AC-ET also supplied a quantity of Columbus McKinnon Lodestar D8 Model L chain hoists, plus Doughty equipment, trigger clamps and safety bonds.

The equally state-of-the-art video infrastructure features 15 Panasonic HD projectors ranging from three-chip laser to single chip models; Draper modular projector screens including a custom-made 11.5-metre wide, four-metre high StageScreen and several sizes of FocalPoint 16:9 screens; a Green Hippo Hippotizer Karst+ media server; plus Analog Way, Black Magic and Datapath signal switcher, processing, converter and splitter solutions.

Other equipment supplied includes over 60 Shure vocal, lectern and drum microphones; audio stageboxes and microphone stands; flightcases for lighting and audiovisual products; custom meat racks for lighting fixtures; and a plethora of consumables, accessories and tools.

In addition, the Tourflex Cabling service supplied nearly 5,000 custom assemblies using 24km of cable and nearly 13,000 connectors, with the ‘TECA’ site logo shrink-wrapped onto every cable and laser engraved onto every connector. The assemblies include Tourflex Datasafe™ DMX and Ethernet, Tourmate Powersafe and Tourmate Multilock mains power, and various other product lines for the venue’s lighting, rigging, video and audio infrastructure.

Every cable is colour-coded by length to enable easy stock management, and is a custom item with its own product spec. and manufacturing code for tracking purposes. The bespoke options included a number of custom distribution boxes as well.

AC-ET also supplied 26 custom power distribution racks for the ‘black box’ Arena, which will be used to drive production rigs for touring shows provided by some of the company’s major UK rental customers.

To date the Arena has featured high-profile concert shows from artists including Michael Bublé, Rod Stewart, Alice Cooper and Liam Gallagher, plus stand-up comedian Jack Whitehall, and the live television broadcast of the 2019 BBC Sports Personality of The Year.

A company-wide team effort, the project involved lots of planning and co-ordination between AC-ET’s sales divisions; Tourflex Cabling cable manufacturing dept.; technical services; logistics; warehousing goods-in and despatch; administration teams; purchasing; and demo stock team to deliver the goods.

To streamline the delivery process, Mike and Jonathan split up the equipment list by its supply source location, rather than room-by-room in the venue. It was a huge task to co-ordinate deliveries by sea, air freight and truck coming from all four corners of the globe – both direct from manufacturers and from AC-ET’s two large UK warehouse stockholdings.

Each of seven articulated trucks’ contents were split into several more manageable smaller sales orders, to enable the staggered processing and picking of items over a series of days. In addition, each distribution centre was made to palletise items by their product type, and clearly label every pallet withthe product type.

Mike was present at the venue to oversee all deliveries, which were staggered over a series of weeks. He assisted with unloading pallets’ content, checking and counting all items to ensure they matched the delivery notes, and assisting with product identification of items for the client’s asset management labelling and barcoding system.

Mike’s assistance onsite saved weeks of work, with every item added into the client’s database within 24hrs of being delivered – ensuring a smooth handover despite the handling of thousands of items. In addition, Mike acted as Steve’s single point of contact to liaise with 24/7 throughout the project – and ongoing after its completion, for any aftersales support matters for the 30+ industry brands supplied.

Since P&J Live officially opened, it has hosted a wide variety of events, including the venue main sponsor’s own Press and Journal Energy Ball 2019, a gala dinner and dance event for over 500 guests which was hosted by television presenter and radio DJ, Vernon Kay.

P&J Live’s Steve Morrison commented: “AC-ET has really delivered the goods for us on this project. Mike, Jono and the staff provided an exceptionally high level of service and attention to detail in every aspect of the project, including the quotation, specification, customisation, logistics, timing, delivery, cataloguing, training and technical support for the equipment.

He added: “Thank you for helping us to achieve our vision of providing truly 21st century conference and exhibition facilities for our clients.”

Mike commented: “Working with Steve and the venue’s technical team has been an absolute pleasure. Due to the scale of this project, it gave us many technical and logistical challenges, but we rose to them and helping to deliver the end result has been hugely satisfying and rewarding.”

The company’s Jonathan Walters added: “We are extremely proud to be associated with a world-class venue such as P&J Live, and I must take the opportunity to add how proud I am of every single employee at AC-ET that was involved in the project.”