Signs of the Times - September 2012 - (Page 38)

THE MOVING MESSAGE By Bob Klausmeier Digital-display consultant Bob Klausmeier brings 34 years of firsthand, professional experience to all digital-sign markets. You can reach him at So, Who Provides What to Whom? Orphaned displays – the elephant in the room. Where does one turn when the provider of a digital display goes out of business? As the digital-display industry approaches maturity, this is a critical question that’s being asked by numerous display users and sellers. endless array of new applications arrives each year. Almost daily, the industry grows, then morphs and grows again while the supplier register reflects continuous flux. Many manufacturers have ceased production while larger ones have absorbed competitors. Worse, many standing displays – “orphans” – remain in place after the supporting supplier has closed its doors. A confusing path leads back to the place(s) where the orphaned product was actually produced, but the starting reference is always the display purchaser. However, manufacturers often produce for numerous suppliers –- or, one supplier may purchase from various manufacturers. In a few settings, manufacturers produce and sell directly to the end user; others operate through resellers. It’s a convoluted environment from any viewpoint. Over the past year, I’ve focused my studies on Asia, because it’s where most LED displays are produced. China, for example, has more than 200 manufacturers of LED display technology, but numerous suppliers also reside in Taiwan and Korea. It’s illuminating to examine the export/import logs available from the freight-forwarding industry, to see what companies actually provide to whom. For example, the data from one Chinese manufacturer revealed it provided LED displays to five different U.S. suppliers that, in turn, individually branded the product for distribution to their clients. Further, it’s common to see a China display manufacturer provide U.S.bound products branded with three or more different names, while also selling the same product directly to end users under its corporate brand name. Why is this relevant? It relates to the suppliers’ pool size against product demand. Although the market is huge and growing, it’s unlikely that all – or even most – of today’s suppliers will survive the intended life of the products they sell. Couple that knowledge with the display industry not having interchangeable-parts standards. The display boards’ LED-lamped components that provide the visual image are of greatest concern. At a distance, all LED faces are similar in appearance. However, hundreds of design variations exist, and each can be packaged into a unified screen to create a good image; but, unlike building blocks, face components are not interchangeable. Even if the face modules or LED boards are of the same physical size, an oddmodule replacement will always reveal a noticeable flaw. How do you ensure access to I’ve spentamuch of this pastofyear capturing bird’s-eye view the digital-display industry – the manufacturers, suppliers and productmarketplace channels. In preparation for this column, I reviewed my accrued knowledge with a plan to sum it all up. A task easier said than done, because the LED-display industry has become a new, international phenomenon that now comprises various display types – digital billboards, video-replay systems, on-premise-advertising displays, digital-wayfinding systems and spectacular signs. Further, an Known LED Display Suppliers Daktronics, Inc. Watchfire by Time-O-Matic YESCO Electronics, LLC Absen Act One Ad Systems Barlovision Capturion Chain Zone D3 Datatronics Formetco Gablevision Hyoco LEDman Lighthouse Lliantronics USA USA USA China Taiwan China Taiwan China* China Taiwan China China* China* China China China China MarkIV Media Resources Mitsubishi DiamondVision Next LED Optec Panasonic Rainbow-Hitech Shanghai Sansi Signtronix Silicon Sign Sony Think Sign Translux Unilumin VantageLED Visiontech Yaham China China Taiwan China China* China* China China China China China* China China* China Taiwan/USA China China *Multiple sources 38 SIGNS OF THE TIMES / SEPTEMBER 2012 /

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - September 2012

Signs of the Times - September 2012
ST Update
Possible Future for Digital Printing
Technology Update
Vinyl Apps
Strictly Commercial
Lighting Techniques
The Moving Message
Technology Review
Technology Review
Design Matters
New Products
Show Yourself
Enter STs 2013 Intl. Sign Contest!
Looking Ahead
Pop Art
Neon: Green Again
Channel-letter Update
Industry News
Advertising Index
Editorially Speaking

Signs of the Times - September 2012