December 15, 2023 - Ross Video Team, Education

5 Guaranteed Ways to Minimize OB Van Downtime

A white Ross Proudction Services OB Van on a shoot

Give your clients exceptional broadcast coverage and quality by minimizing Outside Broadcasting (OB) van failure and disruptions. 

Mobile broadcasting equipment — like any technology — needs proper care or it can impact the quality of your productions. Poorly maintained equipment can affect your crew’s ability to cover important events and damage your business’s reputation with clients and audiences.   

At Ross Video, we have helped outside broadcasters build world-class OB vans and trucks ready to take on high-profile events like Formula 1, The Olympics, and ATP World Tour Tennis.  

We go deep into minimizing OB van downtime and disruption in this article, but to save you some scrolling time, here is what we cover: 

  • The Importance of Zero OB Van Fleet Downtime: Maintaining operational continuity builds credibility and gives you an edge.  
  • Key Strategy: Performing a Regular Long-term Needs Analysis: Leveraging equipment data allows you to procure the best equipment.   
  • Proactively Maintain Vehicles and Equipment: Preventive maintenance extends lifespan and reduces breakdowns.   
  • Invest in Redundancy Processes and Backup Systems: Redundancy processes allow you to plan for emergencies and overcome unexpected breakdowns. 
  • Build Strategic Partnerships with Vendors: Strategic vendor relationships ensure your team has the support they need to thrive. 
  • Train for the Unexpected: Accounting for and running simulations of operational breakdowns or errors helps build resilience and improves response time.  

Want all the details on how to minimize OB van downtime and disruption? Keep reading. 

The Importance of Zero OB Van Fleet Downtime  

Your outside broadcasting van fleets should always stay operational with zero downtime. Operational continuity is vital because: 

  1. Reputation and client trust: Your reputation and client trust will likely suffer if your OB vans experience frequent downtime that disrupts live coverage.  
  1. Reliability: An outside broadcasting van should capture and broadcast entire events — regardless of duration — without interruption.  
  1. Rapid response and relocation: An efficient OB van fleet deploys quickly to help your team capture events and broadcast from different locations.  
  1. ROI and efficiency: Minimizing OB van fleet downtime helps maximize resource utilization.  

1. Key Strategy: Perform Regular Long-Term Needs Analysis 

A needs analysis systematically evaluates your broadcasting equipment to establish fit, enhance performance, and help you invest in the best technology and infrastructure.  

Create a long-term roadmap for technology maintenance and investment. Some key factors include aligning your roadmap with your business objective and strategic direction. You should assess your existing technology systems, infrastructure, and equipment and anticipate the sector’s future needs and industry trends. Budgetary and resource limitations are also important considerations.  

Ideally, you should take a data-driven approach when investing in new broadcasting equipment, including an outside broadcasting van fleet. Leveraging equipment data can help assess its health and remaining work age, allowing for proactive maintenance and replacement planning. You can optimize maintenance, identify potential issues, and predict malfunctions, so you’re never caught off-guard.  

2. Proactively Maintain Vehicles and Equipment  

Preventive vehicle and equipment maintenance keeps an OB van reliable. Regular maintenance helps minimize unexpected breakdowns while ensuring the van is operational whenever needed. It means your news crew can deploy quickly and capture the hottest action.  

Critical checks for your OB van’s preventive maintenance plans should cover fluids, electrical systems, tires, brakes, cooling and HVAC, and communication and broadcasting equipment.  

An effective preventive plan requires you to have the maintenance frequency down to pat. Consider the manufacturer’s recommendations and usage patterns when creating a maintenance plan. Check critical components daily and have a comprehensive weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual maintenance plan for the van’s components as necessary. 

The aim is to know your weak points and which of your equipment takes the heaviest wear-and-tear, and ideally, what activities or environments put the heaviest strain on your systems. These extend beyond the vehicle’s mechanical systems to the broadcast infrastructure including cables, fiber, patch fields, cases, and so on. 

Grounding your maintenance plan in a data-driven approach delivers exceptional results. You can identify patterns and trends that drive better scheduling and investment planning. Analyzing equipment performance data helps you identify and invest in the best-in-class equipment.   

3. Invest in Redundancy Processes and Backup Systems  

Planning for redundancies helps ensure your critical broadcasting equipment stays online during critical times.

Some of the redundancies for an interrupted online uptime include: 

  • Spare parts
  • Replacement equipment
  • Secondary power sources
  • Equipment control overrides
  • Alternative transmission methods
  • Standby or backup staff

Niles Media Group has perfected the art of planning for OB van failure with redundancy and contingency systems. For instance, by installing backup Side-Shot controllers, they add redundancy in the case of a malfunctioning Carbonite panel. The physical panels serve as fail-safes that allow manual control through Dashboard custom controls if a panel fails. They use a dynamic and adaptable rig setup that allows them to handle unforeseeable circumstances because they understand equipment malfunction is inevitable. 

Hyperconverged (multi-functional) systems and software-enabled infrastructure such as Ultrix are vital in improving redundancy. A modular design allows scalability and quick replacement of failed components. They also facilitate seamless software upgrades and replacements, so your setup isn’t susceptible to bugs and software-related errors. Fully integrated systems reduce the potential points of systemic weakness and stress, and single-vendor support helps to streamline resolution should anything occur.  

4. Build Strategic Partnerships with Vendors 

Strategic partnerships with vendors offering extended warranties and maintenance contracts are vital to your success.  

  1. They provide fast and affordable servicing and replacement and have depots from where you can operate to reduce your downtime.  
  1. You can negotiate contracts and create a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that suits your broadcasting operation. 
  1. You can access full training and support to accelerate onboarding while reducing your crew’s learning curve.  

5. Train for the Unexpected 

Creating technical issue response plans helps outside broadcasting vans maintain operational continuity. These comprehensive procedures and strategies help OB van crews handle emergencies and overcome unexpected disruptions. The plans should outline your crew’s actions to mitigate issues and a number of options to keep your broadcast running. Each plan should include defined roles and responsibilities, communication protocols, critical equipment, and redundancies.  

Provide comprehensive training for all your operators to hone their proficiency and ensure they can flawlessly handle the equipment and execute the response plans. Hands-on training builds a solid understanding, allowing operators to respond efficiently to minimize disruptions.  

Use training drills that simulate real-life scenarios to help your team prepare for technical mishaps or errors. They include situations involving equipment malfunction, communication and coordination exercises, emergency response scenarios, and mock live broadcasting challenges.  

Preparing for Disruption is Planning to Win 

Minimizing OB van downtime can help you outpace the competition by ensuring you can broadcast from anywhere and deliver a seamless and high-quality audience experience. A data-driven approach to equipment monitoring and care using a long-term needs analysis will help you make informed investment decisions that minimize the possibility of.  

Switching to a hyperconverged infrastructure like the Ultrix platform helps minimize OB van downtime and eliminate disruptions. You can enhance redundancy, achieve higher reliability levels, streamline operations, and make your broadcasting workflow more efficient.  

Interested in more?

We’ll put you in touch with a member of our team to discuss your specific needs.