Thursday, March 14, 2013

LED Sign Tech & Spec: Don't get screwed, modern module securing systems.

-Deacon Wardlow

Technology is constantly in a state of change. Not only are new technologies developed almost daily around the world, but innovative engineers and entrepreneurs envision new applications of existing technology. The driving factor behind the change is a need for something better than what's currently in place.

When I first started out learning about LED Signage, I started on the ground level (quite literally, on the ground with some of the oldest Digital display systems in the field). I enjoyed taking systems apart and, when putting them back together, seeing if there was a better way the system could work. When I noticed an improvement, I'd note it and try it out until it was 'just right.' One of my biggest pet peeves was dealing with the LED modules themselves.

Different methods have been used to achieve an "ideal" module design. I've seen fully encapsulated LED modules which snap in place like a giant Lego(tm) blocks. The encapsulated modules were great, but failure rate was somewhat high because of heat which wasn't removed from the system. The standard response was to put a rubber gasket around the back of the module and secure the module to the face with 8-10 screws.

The problem with the screws:
-If the factory workers didn't 100% tighten the screws, there's a small gap which allows for water intrusion.
-When factory workers tighten screws 100%, some of them have the threading stripped and they can't easily be removed for later service.
-When servicing an LED module with screws (often from a bucket or lift 30-80ft in the air), the screws can easily be dropped. If the tech is lucky, they drop in the sign and can (maybe) be retrieved but often they're as lost as a rogue sock in a commercial laundry dryer...

Companies have tried several different fixes, the more popular is screws which are inset in the module (so they can't be lost). The problem with screw tightening,stripping and a service tech not totally fastening all the screws still remains.

The best overall approach is a latch system with two locking/unlocking points. No screws to strip, a simple and quick lock/unlock mechanism to turn for easy service. The best solutions are often simple, but unfortunately this means retooling an assembly line which may not be receptive to change.

How flexible is the company you're working with? Can they affect change quickly in their manufacturing process to resolve an issue/flaw in the product? Does the company LISTEN to their partners and end-users and take action on reasonable requests? The module was a small example of how businesses get screwed frequently. At the end of the day, make sure everything is secure and the manufacturer you're dealing with listens and addresses issues quickly. If you're not careful, you may have bigger issues to deal with than a manufacturer with a few screws loose.

*I invite you to comment here and/or email me directly with requests at Vantage LED has white paper resources and more educational material on the website (, please check it out when you have a moment. Note all posts/thoughts/writings are strictly the viewpoint of me and me alone and do not reflect nor speak for Vantage LED’s beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically stated.

No comments:

Post a Comment