Green Data Walls Sustainability and Scalability in the Control Room


By James Chan, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America

Whether designing a new network operation center or upgrading an existing control room, end users should evaluate technology based on its environmental impact and maximize capital expenditures while minimizing ownership cost.

Sustainability and scalability often meet those needs, particularly when implementing or improving large display wall systems.

There is a new way of looking at capital equipment investments and environmental responsibility. The challenge for designers, consultants, integrators and architects is to make installations cost-effective, efficient and environmentally friendly.

Some manufacturers realize that sustainable, scalable video display wall systems are a growing concern. Adding stress to upgrading or refreshing such display systems in mission-critical applications is staying educated and informed about the latest options. Many people postpone decisions until the last minute. Then, they make hasty decisions that might not best serve their organizations.

Upgrading and refreshing video walls is much easier and less painful with scalable, next-generation display wall products that have modularity and flexibility built into each cube. End users may decide on display size, screen type, resolution, input types, light sources and maintenance access. New video walls can grow and change alongside business requirements.

Invest Once, Reap the Benefits

The days of display manufacturers’ deciding what features displays have in control or operations centers are over. Next-generation display walls are designed and built to be modular and scalable. They offer a la carte components so an end user can choose how to build and equip a display wall.

With the help of experienced consultants, an end user can determine needs based on business requirements, then select the components and build a wall. When these requirements change or increase, the end user can upgrade with a few components instead of an entirely new re-installation. Demolishing an old display wall and installing a new wall, only to redo it every five to seven years, is unnecessary.

A modular display wall allows the move from (extended graphics array) XGA to (super extended graphics array plus) SXGA+ by changing out the optical engine and using the same cube cabinet and screen. That increases each display screen’s resolution more than 86 percent. The same type of engine upgrade can move from single-lamp engines to dual-lamp engines or LED-based engines with the same or higher resolution. Wall modularity allows enlargement of a cabinet and screen size using engines end users already have. All of these options are a function of requirement and choice, which keeps costs down.

Maximizing the reusability factor of a display wall as an organization changes and grows also reduces unnecessary waste. Three consumable components that must be replaced most in a continuous operating environment are color wheels, fan motors and lamps. In next-generation scalable display walls, all of these are improved to reduce consumption rates of these parts despite continuous operation.

With the option of using or upgrading to an LED-based engine, an end user can use an engine that operates mercury-free and offers better longevity in lamp life. Color wheels and fan motors are designed and built with durable, heat-resistant ceramic bearings that allow these components to last up to 100,000 hours—more than 11 years—compared with available nonmodular walls that need replacement parts in less than half the time.

Choices, Choices, Choices

Scalability transfers the power of choice to end users. New, next-generation display walls are flexible, customizable, scalable and sustainable, which maximizes reusability and reduces waste. From input cards and color wheels to brightness levels and maintenance access, end users can configure displays to be exactly what they need; nothing more, nothing less.

  • Input cards. Input cards determine the input connections that connect cameras, data feeds and computers to display wall cubes. They are one of the most essential considerations in a display wall choice. Previously, if a current display wall supported only analog inputs but the newer system supported digital signals, signal converters were necessary for the wall to display properly, which increased the display’s cost. If an end user needed multiple digital inputs, using a modular design, the end user could choose suitable input cards by adding and removing input cards as needed, saving time and money.
  • Color wheels. The color wheel part of the cube generates the color it will display. Different color wheels provide different color and brightness levels for the display wall. Choosing the right color wheel for a display wall is crucial because vital decisions will be made from information on the display. Settling for a manufacturer’s standard color wheel is neither appropriate nor necessary. A new, long-life color wheel can last up to 100,000 hours—more than 11 years of continuous use.
  • Brightness levels. Getting more for less is always a good way to justify upgrades and major purchases. Displays often are treated as short-term investments because of their useful life span, but with next-generation display wall cubes, an end user can choose the features and settings to fit specific needs. Operating time options range from 10,000 to more than 60,000 hours. A control room or network operation center can go from more than one year of 24/7 operation to more than six, just by changing its optical engine or adjusting brightness levels. An end user chooses components that fit today’s needs and reaps the benefits for years.
  • Maintenance access. Depending on the size of the operation center, space can get cramped. Big, bulky, rear-projection cubes aren’t always practical or appropriate. Having a choice between front- or rear-access maintenance allows for sleeker room designs and saves space. Front-access display walls can be placed with the back of the display completely flush against a wall. The display opens from the front, and virtually all maintenance can be performed from the front, freeing 2 to10 feet that otherwise would have been needed for rear access to the cubes. In larger installations where the video wall is integrated into a building’s architecture and structure, rear-access display cubes are typical. And with modularity, future upgrades for this type of wall do not require a new architectural venture and the costs associated with a major overhaul.


Ensure State-of-the-Art Technology

Modularity helps customers stay current with new technology without major re-work, re-installations or both. An end user can upgrade and refresh a display as often as its budget permits. As new technology comes to market, upgrades can be planned and budgeted easily.

With new modular display walls, the display wall structure can stay as long as it’s stable, and upgrading or changing internal components is all that’s needed. This allows a display wall to recover its investment and pay for itself before an end user needs a completely new one.

It is our social responsibility to reduce waste and reuse as much as we can. Next-generation display wall systems enable end users to make responsible decisions without compromising technology.

Measure twice, install once and use your video walls for a long time.

James Chan is senior director of product marketing with Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America’s presentation products division.

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