The graph above looks like something from a Wall Street board meeting. It's boring and involves lots of numbers and puts people to sleep. However to us, that little graph represents three months in the life of a concert grand on a stage. The dark blue line is temperature and the light blue line is relative humidity. This is a project that we at Rohde Piano have been working on for the past two years and we're excited about it! It allows us to monitor pianos either on site or from our office in real time.
One type is pictured above. It's about the size of a thumb drive and it hangs inside a piano on a little clip. We program it to collect temperature and humidity readings once every four hours and it will continue to do so for up to 361 days! At any time, we can remove the logger and take a reading to see what's been happening to the piano in the interim. Why, you may ask? That information helps us determine if excessive tunings and repairs are being caused by external conditions. If so, then we need to do something about the situation in order to save the customer money. But doesn't that mean we would make less money if we save the client's money? Well, maybe in the short run, but not over the long term. We want to keep our customers for decades, not just for the next few months! We do that by working for their best interests, and this helps us do that!
The other type of unit we install is similar to the one pictured above. These are called "smart" dataloggers. Once installed, they will send continuous real-time information to our office server so that we can keep track of really expensive pianos on a daily basis. The company has written software specifically for Rohde Piano and it allows us to constantly monitor as many pianos as we desire 24/7. We can set parameters for each piano. For example, let's use a grand piano on a concert stage in St. Louis, MO. The parameters have been set to warn us if the temperature changes more than seven degrees or humidity changes more than 10% for more than a four hour period of time. The software will warn us of a problem and we can double-click on that warning. After that a pop up will show which piano it is, the location, the problem, and the person to call. So, if a stage hand accidentally leaves a loading dock door open in the winter and the temperature drops 25 degrees for five hours, we are then warned and can make the call to see what the problem is and get it corrected before damage can occur. Pretty cool, right? We can also monitor movement, vibration, dew point, or a myriad of other things depending upon the situation.
Yes, we still do 19th century work, but are so thankful for 21st century technology to help preserve our instruments!