Part 2 of 3: AtlasIED & Pentegra Team Up in Chicago O’Hare with David Injeski, Daniel McGlathery, Justin Young, and Gina Sansivero

June 15, 2023

The importance of keeping a legacy system running when transitioning to a completely new platform cannot be overstated. This is especially true when replacing a PA system in an airport. The idea of a PA system failure at O’Hare, one of the world’s busiest international airports, is the stuff nightmares and horror films are made of.

In Part 2 of a 3-part Sounds Like Success podcast series, host Gina Sansivero, VP Marketing & Corporate Communication at AtlasIED, spoke with Justin Young, General Manager at AtlasIED, David Injeski, Design Engineer at Pentegra Systems, and Daniel McGlathery, Engineering Supervisor at Pentegra Systems about the complexity of installing a new PA system at O’Hare using advanced technology that few companies have expertise in.

O’Hare International Airport “saw more than 54 million passengers in 2021” according to NBC Chicago ranking it the 4th busiest airport in the world. The AtlasIED and Pentegra partnership to replace the legacy PA system which was initially installed in 1988, was high-profile to say the least. The work simply could not disrupt airport operations.

Injeski commented on the mandate to complete the PA installation while keeping the legacy system operation until the new system was ready to go live. “Keeping the existing system running until we had the new system built and were ready to switch over to it presented a whole other level of logistic problems. Again, as a partnership, everybody shined through this whole process and we really came out, in the end, looking really, really good to the end users,” noted Injeski.

What makes this accomplishment even more noteworthy was the use of a PON (passive optical network) which was completely new and hugely innovative for AtlasIED. PON is “one large network switch that can encompass an entire campus,” explained McGlathery.

McGarthery continued his explanation to explain the simplicity and complexity of how a PON system works. In collaboration with AtlasIED and a variety of contractors, the team installed a PON system and fed fiber out to every terminal. Once that was complete, they extended the fiber from the terminal to every gate so that the system functions as one large network.

“It also gives you a central point of management so if there is something going wrong, or an issue with the network in Terminal 5 and I’m over in Terminal 1, I’ve got one place to go. “It’s one PON system. I can go into that PON system and I can look at those ports in Terminal 5 and see what’s going on. It’s not having to jump into different switches or follow paths throughout the network… it is one switch for the entire airport. It makes management very easy,” McGarthery said.

Using a PON system did not come without its challenges but ultimately, it was the best choice for meeting O’Hare’s project requirements. Listen in to hear how the team came to this decision and the bumps and bruises they experienced along the path to success.

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