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What is Green Signage ?
As no one can have failed to notice, the climate crisis and the optimization of natural resources have emerged as key topics for this decade and those to come. Faced with this urgency, how should companies react, particularly in the context of our current essential digital transformation? How can we combine digitalization and energy efficiency?
First and foremost, it is essential to reap the benefits of successful digitalization, while also achieving direct and indirect energy savings. Digital signage is a formidably effective tool when it comes to making teams aware of sustainability and to changing employee behavior, but it can also help achieve productivity gains, thereby saving energy.
However, the carbon footprint is never zero and the use of digital signage software involves the use of energy-consuming displays and associated infrastructure. How can you ensure that your digital signage is as environmentally friendly as possible?
Yes, “Green Signage” is possible, with this approach involving minimizing the overall energy cost of the solution, taking into account the energy impact during production, on the one hand, but also during operation, on the other.
Reducing energy consumption during operation
An important factor open to optimization in a digital signage project is the energy cost related to operation. In particular, a recent study showed that 20% of the CO2 consumption in a Digital Signage project was linked to manufacturing and 80% to operation (source: Invidis). Many different parameters are taken into account when assessing the energy impact of a project. There is, of course, the direct consumption of equipment (screen, player), not to mention its after-sales service and maintenance. But a number of factors less visible from the outside are also highly significant and can generate major energy savings: this is the case with the choice of software and infrastructure. Finally, the associated services linked to the operation of the system must also be taken into account... There are numerous potential savings and gains to be made.
Screen standards have recently been revised. A screen recently rated “A” is today listed in “G”... These significantly increased targets are part of a positive approach and will encourage manufacturers to continue to innovate and improve in order to reduce their footprint. Indeed, being in “A” class gave the manufacturers little incentive to invest in this energy component. The standard, like the rest, must continue to evolve in order to encourage the industry to have this energy reduction target as its number one priority.
Moreover, the screen’s life cycle/service requirements is also a key point, especially for projects with an international scope. Indeed, it is not uncommon to see some manufacturers send the screens to another continent for after-sales service on the pretext that the contract was signed in the territory in question... or that the whole worldwide after-sales service operation is centralized in a single country. It is therefore possible that your screen may circle the globe for even the slightest repair. Even if this can make sense when considered from a group perspective, it is obviously nonsense from an environmental and sometimes even an economic viewpoint... at a time when many stakeholders have embraced the local dimension in the management of after-sales service activities, greatly reducing the carbon footprint.
As with displays, technology is evolving, making it possible to achieve equal performance while reducing energy consumption, miniaturizing devices and reducing hardware consumption. Additionally, the OS spectrum is expanding: Windows, Android, etc. make it possible to choose solutions better suited to different needs and therefore to scale power according to real requirements. More and more manufacturers today produce displays with integrated players (SOC), such as Philips, Vestel and Iiyama, etc. This solution can also offer benefits in terms of energy consumption. Indeed, in addition to the “two-in-one” hardware component that saves on some components (power, etc.), it reduces the transport footprint by transporting only one item of equipment instead of two and thus also reduces packaging.
The more you pool your infrastructure, the more you can reduce your consumption, ensuring that you only consume what’s needed. The cloud today makes this possible. There is no need to invest in your own server, which is often oversized compared to your real needs. Indeed, an in-house server will have to be scaled to absorb the maximum peak load, which is very rarely reached. All the rest of the time, the server will be underused.
CMS or digital signage software
The Content Management System, also known as digital signage software, plays a key role in reducing overall energy consumption. Many display networks are not yet connected or controlled, but just updated via a USB stick. Operating a digital signage network without a CMS is like heating your home with all the doors and windows open. The more efficient the CMS is, the more insulation is added, moving from a “heat sieve” to a low energy system.
Device Management FOR MORE CONTRol
The most important part on the software side is undoubtedly the ability of the CMS to integrate a Device Management solution, in other words an advanced remote management system for the display system, whether hardware or software-based. Indeed, this is where most of the potential savings are to be found. How many systems stay on at night though not displaying anything? Many black screens at night are actually “playing” black content because the CMS does not know how to turn the screen on/off automatically... It is therefore essential to ensure that the software has the ability to turn the screen off/on with precise schedules. The software must also make it possible to adjust/configure the screen, to be able to fine-tune all the hardware and software components essential to the satisfactory operation of the system and its optimization (adjustment of the brightness according to the time of day, etc.). Solutions which include a genuine Device Management tool will also provide monitoring functions, allowing for preventive maintenance, the monitoring of key indicators and the triggering of the associated corrective actions. The primary goal is to avoid sending a technician to the site (whose travel-related energy costs are very high compared to the need). The objective of Device Management is therefore twofold: to optimize a device’s energy consumption and to avoid any breakdowns or issues that would have a very high energy cost: the travel costs of a technician and sometimes the replacement of the equipment with all the associated logistics, etc.
Controlling resource usage
The management by the CMS of the display and the use of player and network resources is also significant. The less you connect to the server, the less bandwidth you use and the more energy you save. Much of the content, once synchronized, has no need for a connection to the server. The player will download the media and resources it needs to play its program. It will no longer need to connect to the network or server until an update is required. A significant saving. Of course, streaming should be avoided, as this consumes a lot of resources.
Broadcast only when necessary
Finally, the CMS can also make it possible to adapt the behavior and consumption of your digital signage according to the presence of visitors or the load levels of the national electricity grid for example. Thanks to presence sensors, the CMS will be able to stop the display if no one enters the field of vision and restart it only when a new presence is detected. Additionally, the coupling of Media4Display to EDF’s EcoWatt service automatically reduces the brightness of all your screens when the status of the power grid changes (when the service changes from green to orange for example). It is possible to simply turn off non-essential screens during an extreme consumption peak (for example, when the grid changes its status to red) in order to further contribute to efforts to save electricity during periods in which the national grid is overloaded. The system will automatically turn the screens back on when the grid status returns to normal. This action can be combined with automatically displaying a banner at the bottom of your slides (or other dedicated actions such as displaying specific media content) to make your visitors/staff aware of the situation and to explain the process.
EcoWatt is a service provided by the french electricity transmission network to help the French population consume electricity more efficiently. Put simply, EcoWatt is your electricity “weather forecast”.
With our Media4Display digital signage software and the EcoWatt connector, depending on the state of the national electricity grid you can automate:
– the dissemination of messages to raise awareness of good energy practices
– the reduction of screen brightness
– the turning off screens and players
Integrators and service providers
The overall project footprint cannot be considered without including the integrator who will deploy, monitor and maintain the project. In addition to the usual criteria concerning CSR commitments, different criteria will have to be assessed regarding the means and resources made available for the maintenance of the different sites: the proximity of the maintenance teams to avoid excessively energy-intensive travel, the type of vehicles used, not to mention the various IT tools at their disposal to perform preventive maintenance and remote maintenance on the devices without having to travel.
Digital signage: a great awareness-building tool and a source of productivity gains
Digital signage has progressed enormously in recent years. It’s a far cry from the image that some people still have of full-screen loop videos with no real added value. Digital signage today makes it possible to inform people and raise awareness in a targeted way, integrating with business applications and making key data visible and understandable to employees when they need it, where they need it. Digital signage should be seen today as a means of reducing our energy footprint, both directly and indirectly.
Disseminating best practices and raising awareness of energy savings and waste reductions
It is no longer necessary to prove how impactful digital technology can be when it comes to getting people’s attention, reaching your target audience and raising awareness. It’s the ideal tool for spreading awareness of good business practices within the company, including informing people of topics such as paper print reduction, electricity management, air conditioning/heating, etc. What’s more, digital signage makes it possible to connect to information for the latest generations of buildings and broadcast details of energy gains or areas for improvement in real time. The KPIs, graphs, smiley faces and pictures displaying saved trees are much more impactful and memorable than a few lines in a report that no one will read. Image-heavy visual communication is particularly effective, like Docusign congratulating you on saving “x” trees thanks to your savings achieved for the month by signing documents electronically instead of using a paper signature! It is crucial to link savings to reality, to visual images, and to regularly motivate and engage your teams. The digital signage screen, shared with all your teams, offers the perfect medium for this.
Digital signage: a source of direct productivity gains and energy cost reductions
Today there is no shortage of data available within companies. However, the question that often arises is where to locate the information I need, where and when I need it. This is especially true in industry and transport/logistics, but also in call centers and many other areas. Today, digital signage makes it possible to connect to the company’s information system and business applications like SAP, to make raw data available visually with no requirement for any action on the part of the user.
For example, in the Supply Chain sector, a screen can easily display the list of trucks scheduled for arrival, the unloading bay concerned, their possible delays compared to the originally scheduled arrival times, and therefore the priorities for unloading. In industry, a block diagram of an assembly line visually indicates the status of each stage of the line to anticipate a possible production line interruption in the event of an upstream slowdown.
All this information enables the operators to check the status of the operations in the blink of an eye, to anticipate and to adapt the tasks to be performed. This leads to increased productivity, a reduction in machine times and therefore in the associated energy costs. These screens can also regularly display information about best practices in terms of safety or recycling, etc., further reinforcing the company’s CSR policy.
Optimize existing resources and systems!
The overwhelming majority of office workers today have a PC in the company. In addition to digital signage, this work tool can be transformed into a valuable channel for internal communication! Solutions are available which make it possible to create internal communication channels for the various departments, using notifications or even alerts. They also allow for communication via existing PC features such as the lock screen and the desktop wallpaper. You can therefore optimize your communication, raise awareness among employees, circulate details of best practices or issue alerts without additional equipment or energy consumption.