Power management is perhaps the most straightforward, yet underserved area in a digital signage build-out. At the Infocomm 2012 show in Las Vegas, Perry Goldstein, host of the Digital Signage Pavilion at the Expo called power management “...one of the most overlooked aspect of digital signage deployment.” Guest speaker for power management in digital signage build-out was Furman’s U.S. sales manager, Christos DeSalernos, who said the proper application of power management technologies will help controllers more efficiently manage their network of digital signs with some impressive results from a relatively small investment.
New display technologies like thinner LED-based LCDs also mean that on-board power supplies are getting thinner according to DeSalernos, who said these “…are more susceptible to surges and under and over voltages as well.”
To help better manage power in the digital signage deployment, the company offers new technology that includes its BlueBolt remote (cloud-based) solution allowing for infrastructure power management via NOCs (network operation centers) or even from mobile devices in the field.
The basic Furman power management solution can add as little as $100 to the cost of the sign but it’s cheap insurance with inherent filtering of power streams and protection from deadly power surges “…from an antiquated power infrastructure that in some cases is 100 years old,” according to DeSalernos.
Someone familiar in dealing with old infrastructure is Janna Rider, director of Digital Merchandizing Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) giant, Dairy Queen. The company has a North America and international presence with owner-operator (O/O) franchises in 21 countries. Rider is recently focused on upgrading to a digital signage feature panel for 260 of its QSR franchisees in the US and Canada — and provides a good study on the state of the industry vis a vis energy management and power.
“We’re running tests on the full menu board options now that include a low-power LED sign option sourced from NEC’s X-series displays,” said Rider.
For Rider’s O/O power is a big issue in migrating to digital. “A typical QSR (quick service restaurant) not only faces challenges of grease, oil, steam and heat, but must contend with the special power requirements of a new digital menu board upgrade,” she said.
The new digital menu board build-out could include up to five digital panels (mounted in landscape mode) that requires two dedicated circuits to power up to thirteen separate devices including the LCD panels and media players. And for the O/O looking at the upgrade that can mean having to provide dedicated wiring to the install location with city or county permits, electrical contractors and municipal inspectors, to name a few.
“Power is becoming more important in our digital sign deployments,” Rider says. She sees the use of LED backlights helping reduce overall cost of ownership. “We’ve seen energy cost drop up to $18 per year per panel with the switch to LED backlit displays,” Rider said. That number is based on figures provider her by panel maker, NEC. In this case, savings can add up even on a small five menu board install to just under $100/year.