Technology and innovation are powering the rapid expansion of digital billboards in cities throughout the world. Today it’s not unusual to see digital billboards in vertical formats, jumbo sizes and television quality resolutions.
Since the initial investment for digital billboards is greater than traditional static billboards, and manufacturers offer various products and technologies at different price points, Outdoor Republic is dedicating a special supplement series that will review various manufacturers of digital products from around the world.
Our first stop was at the manufacturing facility of Watchfire Signs in Danville, Illinois, where we quickly experienced the company’s philosophy of being passionately focused on quality. For well over 80 years—since 1932—Watchfire has relied on a tireless, U.S.-midwestern work ethic to outperform the competition.
It’s clear that quality is entrenched in the culture at Watchfire. When Watchfire claims ownership of total quality production from conception to finished product, it is not just a saying. At the Danville facility, digital billboards and LED signs are designed, manufactured, assembled, tested and supported.
There is tight communication among design, manufacturing and service, and the synergy between these groups increases efficiency and drives product innovation. It’s little wonder that Watchfire has more that 400 digital billboard customers worldwide. The product development engineers work side-by-side with the service team, so they hear firsthand about the real-life experiences of product owners.
One of Watchfire’s points of differentiation is that the company makes the highest performing and most rugged digital billboards available anywhere. Watchfire fully encapsulates every module in a thick bed of silicone gel, which enables digital boards to operate in extreme weather conditions: 180+ days completely submerged in water, 60 days in a salt-spray chamber, and temperatures ranging from -40° C to 60° C. In areas where heat and humidity are both high, the silicone gel encapsulation protects the boards from humidity and moisture, greatly improving projected reliability.
Watchfire cabinets feature solid welds, not “pop” rivets, and the company designs for high-inrush current and high-voltage protection. They use stronger, heavy-walled aluminum extrusions instead of cheaper sheet metal or fabricated metal cabinets. Minimal parts count and fewer connections results in lower failure rates and better overall operation.
Watchfire also conducts whole-sign color calibration of every board to ensure billboards display smoothly and brilliantly, without tiling or quilting. They are the only manufacturer that factory calibrates for both color and brightness.
According to Steve Harriott, Watchfire’s president, “Having a vertically integrated manufacturing facility allows us to build every display to order, customizing and modifying our displays to fit the needs of the customer while maintaining complete control of the process and quality. There are scores of digital sign manufacturers worldwide, but Watchfire is one of an elite few with full-scale manufacturing in the United States.”
Next up was a demonstration of the Ignite OA Inventory Management Tool. Designed by the software development team specifically for billboard operators, Ignite OA makes advertising inventory reports available from anywhere there’s an Internet connection, so operators can accurately track sales and know which spots command a premium rate.
Ignite OA also helps digital billboard operators make the most of digital advertising by using conditional content from RSS or XML feeds of weather, news, sports scores or a calendar of events. With this information, advertisers can promote hot coffee when the weather drops below a certain temperature, or post images from an Instagram or Twitter feed to engage the community.
With the billboard operator’s approval, advertisers also can access Ignite OA to upload their own creative or update a campaign. Ignite OA’s advanced Proof of Performance reporting provides detailed reports on the dates, times, frequency and duration of each advertiser’s content, which is essential for co-op advertisers.
Ignite OA also monitors the health of the billboard. Because the billboard is always connected, either through broadband wireless internet or DSL, Ignite OA scans the entire system continuously and generates an email alert to the Watchfire digital support team if a problem is detected.
Watchfire’s patented multi-channel data configuration ensures that if an issue with a Watchfire digital billboard ever occurs, it will be isolated to a single module and messages will still be readable. Without multi-channel data, one data connection error could affect all the modules in a row, leaving the sign unreadable.
That bring us to customer service. In the event that a Watchfire billboard needs service, Watchfire is committed to providing world-class service and support. Company technicians are available to answers questions by phone, email and chat six days a week. There is an online KnowledgeBase with extensive information available at all times. Watchfire stocks and quickly ships parts for all of its billboard models.
If you’d like to learn more about Watchfire Signs, you can visit www.watchfiresigns.com.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Outdoor Republic is proudly powered by WordPress