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3 Obstacles of Retrofitting Digital Signage Displays

April 18, 2017

As digital signage broadens its reach around the globe, solution providers are finding themselves involved in a growing number of projects that require retrofitting. While this is a testament to the burgeoning influence of digital signage in all types of facilities—even those that weren’t necessarily designed for AV—retrofitting for digital signage can certainly present its fair share of challenges. However, with the right tools and mindset, you can overcome these obstacles without too much frustration or delay.

Let’s examine three of the most common obstacles that solution providers encounter when retrofitting a digital signage display:

1. Challenging structural conditions.

Of course, the main difficulty lies in the structure itself. Where are the displays going, and how exactly will they be mounted? Because the building you’re working with was probably not built with AV in mind, the environment itself will likely be among the most significant challenges.

When starting a retrofit, solution providers often find weak walls and floors, bumpy or curved walls and challenging construction materials, such as concrete. It can be difficult running cable and installing mounts in many older buildings; sometimes, physical obstacles can interfere with projector equipment or even wireless signals, making the install a frustrating series of trial-and-error attempts.

2. Legacy AV equipment.

In some retrofit situations, your customer may have older AV equipment that they want incorporated into the new digital signage display. Of course, this can help them minimize cost—but only if the legacy technology is reliable, is likely to last for the foreseeable future and can be easily integrated with your new system.

Be sure to keep time and monetary constraints in mind when working to incorporate legacy AV equipment. In some cases, it’s simply not worthwhile to try to make it work, especially as the prices of newer digital signage technology continue to fall. Work closely with your customer to determine whether keeping the equipment is the best option for their overall solution, as well as their time frame and budget.

3. Ever-increasing costs.

With most new-build digital signage projects, budget is a fairly straightforward thing. Going into it, you know what the building’s layout and construction materials will be, and all the AV equipment is brand-new. It’s like you get to pave the way.

But in a retrofit project, you never know what you’re going to find. And that element of the unknown can wreak havoc on your initial budget. Costs can become higher than expected, thanks to structural challenges; the need for additional mounting hardware, cabling and other equipment; extra time and resources spent on integrating with legacy equipment; and any number of other obstacles.

Overcoming Retrofit Challenges

With these common challenges looming in your mind, how do you prepare for your next retrofit project? The key is to be creative and give yourself a longer timeline than usual. Think outside the box and brainstorm ways to deal with each challenge.

For example, let’s say a wall that was supposed to receive a video wall turns out to be structurally weak. What are your other options that will still respect the budget? Consider mounting the display from the ceiling or floor or using a projector instead. See if there are other areas in the same room that could house the video wall. You might even meet with a structural engineer and ask about your options for installing a load-bearing beam.

Resist the urge to say “It just can’t be done.” Think like a customer, with the end goal in mind, and find a way to get there. Finally, communicate with your customer throughout the process in order to ensure that they understand the challenges you’re facing, as well as how they might impact the timeline and budget.

What is the most challenging retrofit situation you’ve encountered? How did you overcome its obstacles?