Philadelphia International Airport

In its transition from CRT displays, this Pennsylvania hub selected large-format NEC LCD displays for digital signage throughout its space, including FIDS, gate information and wayfinding.

Quick Facts
  • Facility: Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Challenge: Transition from CRT to digital LCD displays throughout airport
  • Solution: NEC 32" MultiSync® LCD3210-BK, 40" LCD4020-2-AV, 46" LCD4620-2-AV and 57" LCD5710-2-AV
  • Date: April 2008

With more than 30 million passengers traveling through its gates annually, Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) prides itself on relaying timely information when it's needed most. Where failure is not an option, the airport maintains a high standard with meticulous requirements for its technology. The airport covers an incredible area of 2.4 million square feet and operates 120 boarding gates. With recent additions for such areas as terminals, baggage claim and runways, PHL is under constant renovation in order to maintain premium functionality in an ever-growing market.

Arora Engineers, Inc. (Arora) works as a consultant for the City of Philadelphia's Division of Aviation and was recruited to give insight and recommendations for the airport. Family-owned and operated, Arora manages projects from brainstorming through installation. Arora is a certified Minority-Owned Business (MBE) and offers a broad range of services, such as planning, design, construction management and facilities maintenance. The firm, which operates under a cost-effective solutions approach, primarily focuses on aviation, education, transportation, commercial and military markets. Above all, Arora provides the City with the most appropriate technical product for each project, making sure that every piece of equipment is right for the job.

The Challenge

When PHL required an update to its CRT displays, Arora stepped in to help ease the transition process. The City of Philadelphia provided Arora with a list of requirements for the new installation. Its highest priority was a 3-year on-site warranty, a rigorous but extremely necessary prerequisite given its commercial application. Additional requirements included an ambient light sensor to adjust the display's light output in the window-lit building, a display refresh technology and impressive specifications.

"While CRT displays provided PHL with incredible longevity, their lifecycle had antiquated and they were no longer dynamic or interesting," said Manik Arora, PE, president of Arora. "We needed to install new technology that was reliable, well-supported and showed vibrant content. The goal was to create uniformity throughout the airport and build capabilities for future integrations."

Arora held an in-house demonstration for Thomas Varughese, PE, PHL's assistant engineering manager and its maintenance and operations teams, using NEC large-format LCD displays and two competitor products. The goal was to test software and compare products to find an easily manageable monitor that displayed sharp, bright content.

The Solution

After hosting the product shootout, PHL and Arora selected NEC Display Solutions as the display provider and by project's end will have purchased more than 20 32" MultiSync LCD3210-BKs, more than 500 40" MultiSync LCD4020-2-AVs, more than 30 46" MultiSync LCD4620-2-AVs and nearly 20 57" MultiSync LCD5710-2-AV displays. These MultiSync 20 Series models not only met all of the project's strict requirements, but impressed Arora with their thin bezels and the flexibility of expansion slots.

"NEC's careful attention to our every need was very much noticed and taken into account," said Arora. "The collaboration among their sales team was incredibly resourceful, and all were quick to respond to us throughout the entire process."

Arora was able to pick from three city-approved integrators to manage the software content at the airport. Georgia-based Infax, Inc. was selected in the competitive roundup and worked to design, build and program the information display system. PHL currently has displays for flight information (FIDS), baggage information (BIDS), concourse train information, and visual paging and wayfinding systems. Additionally, an existing CRT bank in the food court was updated with LCD displays for FIDS purposes, allowing commuters to relax and refuel with ease while keeping an eye on their flight schedule. The monitors also display news updates.

"NEC was put through hoops by Arora in order to win this project, and we liked to see the team effort they put forth," said Mike Davis, president of Infax, Inc. "When I look for a manufacturer, I'm searching for someone who has the motivation to fulfill all of our requirements, and at NEC, everyone from executive management down to customer support was involved in customizing this project for every concern we had. The outcome of this installation has been very well-received by airport officials, and it was a pleasure working on this project."

"Because this process took more than 18 months, and technology is constantly changing, NEC was willing to work with us on updating to the most recent technology when available," said Arora. "That factor encourages me to work with them again on additional PHL projects, such as video walls, gate information display and advertising throughout the space. This relatively average installation turned out to be a wonderfully interactive, positive experience, and we will gladly work with NEC again in the future."