Jands Venue Engineering (JVE) and event AV services provider, Staging Connections came together to engineer a bespoke staging solution for Sydney’s Westin Hotel, overcoming all the challenges.

Sydney’s famous Tank Stream presented a major challenge when the two companies joined forces to create a staging solution for the hotel. The fresh water supply for the colony of Sydney in its earliest days is contained in a bulkhead, which runs directly over the ballroom of the Westin Hotel in the centre of the city. It was one of the issues that had to be considered when Jands and Staging Connections put their skills together to engineer a faster, safer and more efficient staging management system for the hotel.

Additionally, the installation had to fit in with existing hotel commitments including making sure all the rooms involved were empty as well as avoiding work at night as it risked disturbing the guests.

Working in favour of the operation was the fact there were already a number of rigging points that could be used. However, there was no structural design or test documentation for these points, so it was vital that each one of them was load-tested and re-certified. There was no rigging point where the Tank Stream ran through the roof, so Jands had to come up with customised engineering to brace around the bulkhead and install the points where they were needed.

To ensure a safe and user-friendly system, the request was made to create a set-up with a function so if the operator at the single control system could not see a motor they could not operate that motor. Tim Butler, State Manager for JVE explained that a unique attribute of the ballroom was that it could be divided, depending on the needs of an event, into one large room, two medium rooms, or four small rooms.

This meant the ballroom could host a range of functions at any given time. During multiple events, the single control system has the ability to control any of the 32 chain motors installed from the four control points located in each of the individual function rooms. Through clever engineering Jands was able to install non-obstructive dividing wall sensors that meld into the ceiling. The sensors detect if a wall has been moved into place and relay the information to the control point, notifying the operator that a function room cannot be seen and therefore the motors in that room cannot be operated.

According to the Venue Installations Project Manager for Staging Connections, Matt Danks, the Westin’s staging equipment was raised and lowered using motorised chain hoists/blocks, which can be slow and clumsy. To ensure a more efficient way of doing things, which would speed up the set-up and turnaround times for the venue, Staging Connections proposed a computer managed chain hoist/block grid, which offers a huge amount of flexibility and is safer than other options.

Matt explained that their idea was to permanently mount 24 chain hoist/blocks in a regular grid throughout the main ballroom, which can be divided into four smaller rooms, as well as smaller motors for additional screens around the perimeter of the room. Staging Connections has had a strong relationship with Jands for more than 20 years so there was no surprise that the company, which makes and distributes the world’s most recognised brands of audio, lighting and staging products, would be involved.

Once the brief was given to Jands, they came back with a solution, which was refined to achieve the final outcome.

According to Matt, the final solution is not only the safest but also the most efficient. The ballroom has four removable walls. Sensors on either side of the doors inform the chain motor system if the wall is in or out. If the wall is in and an operator plugs into an empty room to do a set-up, it’s impossible to activate motors in another section of the room where there may be an audience underneath.

Since most of the chain motor systems wouldn’t have that level of complexity, Jands had to come up with a plan for how these sensors would recognise whether the walls were in or out, and how they would program that logic into the system. Jands successfully created a bespoke system that now meets every demand at the hotel’s ballroom.