Ask the Board – July 13, 2020 | RALPH SCHORBACH


“Do you have a plan in place if your display manufacturer either goes out of business or quits providing certain parts?”

Part is parts…but having the parts when you need them can be a challenge.  As end-users, we don’t necessarily want a lot of excess inventory sitting around or our hard earned capital waiting “if” it needs to get used. So what is the best plan if your display manufacturer goes out of business or End-of-Life (EOL) on products you use?  

There are several angles to this question. Are you replacing a small number of screens, a monstrous video or something in between? This will help define the scope and the severity of the project. Or, is it just a single display failure in an arrangement where you have the ability to pull from another similar setup and only have to replace one, hopefully smaller setup? Scale of the project can really shift the way you keep spares on hand.

The good and bad of manufacturers is that when they improve on models and designs, the natural evolution means they are going to phase out certain makes, models and sizes. The good part is that most commercial lines will last five to seven years and usually offer a similar replacement model with higher resolution at a lower cost.

Generally you should swap what you have with all new or similar old models. Otherwise, this may cause issues with alignment due to changes of thickness in bezels. Even if the viewing size is the same, brightness and color fading will make the one display stand out vs. another. (FYI, color matching new screens to older screens is a challenging process and definitely not worth the time.) This is really true on LED panels that are outside and get abused by the elements.   

Speaking of LED panels…how many of you purchase directly from a Chinese source only to find out that great deal was from a company that went out of business or no longer make the product and new versions aren’t compatible with older ones?

That leads us into spare parts. When negotiating contracts for new displays, always write in EOL terms, replacement pools, supply/distribution inventory and other means to protect yourself.  Avoid any “grey” market displays since manufacturers do not typically warranty or support these units.  

At the end of the day, you need to cover yourself. Look out for the option to buy from other sources if the displays you are using are no longer available. There are usually great deals when equipment is discontinued, because the manufacturer drops the price so they can “clean house” for the new model, which is a great opportunity to get out there and pick up some great deals. There are always plan “Bs,” but maybe it is really time to refresh the whole wall and display situation, giving a fresh look and spare parts to the areas you aren’t able to transition yet. A little refresh goes a long way, and it probably costs half of what it did when you originally purchased it years ago.

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