Oral Roberts University

Electronics engineers at Oral Roberts University spent a considerable amount of time manually resetting clocks twice each year to adjust for Daylight Saving and Standard times. Without a central management tool for its clocks, the university also had to dedicate valuable resources to checking the batteries of analog clocks on the campus.

The Problem

The clocks at Oral Roberts University, an institution that serves more than 3,200 students, were causing considerable maintenance issues in the 19 buildings on campus. Due to construction over the years, the wires that connected with the central panel unit had deteriorated, which led to inaccurate time displays on the clocks. Students and faculty expressed concerns that the clocks were not synchronized. In addition, the two electronics engineers on staff struggled to keep up with ongoing maintenance issues, spending more than 200 hours each year trying to keep the time accurate on clocks throughout the campus.

Jerry Horn, the university’s electronic engineer at the time, began to evaluate multiple vendors that could address the synchronization and maintenance issues without detracting from the style of the university’s award-winning futuristic architecture. Mr. Horn and Peter Kovaleski, the manager of employee IT services at the university, wanted to bring in a wireless system that could be managed and monitored centrally through an NTP server.

The school considered several vendors to install a more advanced time synchronization system that would minimize the cost of maintaining clocks throughout the campus. “Our customers are the students,” said Kovaleski. “They were not happy with the clocks and neither were the faculty. No clocks were ever on the same time. As the ‘owners’ of the clocks, we knew we needed to make a change to address our customers’ concerns.”

The Solution

Oral Roberts University ultimately selected the Primex Web-based Synchronous Network System (SNS) in 2010. Kovaleski said Primex was selected because of the advanced design and look and feel of its clocks, the reporting and monitoring available through a central management system that leverages an NTP server, and the ability to synchronize all clocks across the campus at one time.

The university installed digital clocks in 10 buildings across the campus and analog clocks in the chemistry labs. All of the clocks are wirelessly monitored through a single Primex platform to synchronize the timekeeping. The clocks connect wirelessly to the NTP server through hidden access points to ensure the time is accurate across campus. The Primex platform synchronizes all of the clocks and sends alerts when batteries are running low or time is off by more than 300 milliseconds.

The cost of the Primex platform and clocks is being recouped through maintenance savings, according to Kovaleski. Whereas the university’s electronics engineers used to spend 10 percent of their time maintaining the clocks on campus, they now spend less than 30 minutes on average each week. The impact is most dramatic when the clocks need to be set back or forward during seasonal time changes. Instead of having to spend hours adjusting more than 100 clocks across the campus, the Primex platform automatically adjusts every clock for the time change.

The perfectly synchronized Primex clocks have worked so well, additional clocks have been deployed in the brand new Armand Hammer Alumni-Student Center, according to Kovaleski. What’s more, due to the success of Time Synchronization, Kovaleski said the university has added Temperature/Humidity sensors to two data centers on campus, and is currently evaluating Temperature Monitoring in the main student cafeteria refrigerator. Next on the horizon is full deployment of the Temperature/Humidity sensors in switch closets throughout campus, as well as an evaluation of the Primex Emergency Light Monitoring solution.

“The Primex clocks have been so successful that now people are coming to us and asking why we don’t have more clocks,” said Kovaleski. “Not only do the clocks look great, but the time is spot-on. Because of the great reliability and customer service, we are excited about evaluating other Primex solutions, and we look forward to working with them in the future.”

“We liked the style of the Primex clocks, which matches the futuristic architecture of our buildings on campus, and the reliability and customer service has been superior.”

Peter Kovaleski
Employee IT Services​ Manager, Oral Roberts University