Why Do LED Displays Take So Long To Manufacture?
When it comes to LED displays and their manufacture, typically lead times can run a few weeks or certainly a few months depending on the type. There are a number of factors that contribute to this which have limited the industry’s ability to speed up lead times and make it so that customers can be delivered their LED displays in a shorter time frame. Customers are typically disappointed with how long they have to wait to receive their LED display upon ordering it. Most business decisions that they are used to making have immediate results. In the case of their display though, they can be left waiting for a long time. Lets take a look at why.
One size does not fit all: Electronic LED signs and their use is typically restricted or overseen by local level government agencies. In the US, this means that what is legal in one town or city may not be in another. Many companies choose to try and maximize the viewing area of their LED display for example. In one two it may be legal to have a display up to 6 feet X 10 feet while in the town next two it 3 feet X 6 feet is the maximum and in the town next to that, they are banned. With the virtually limitless number of local municipalities and their varying rules, it is impossible for manufacturers to create a one size fits all type of LED display which they can keep in stock to meet the needs of all of their potential customers. Because of all the different types and sizes that may be ordered, most manufacturers choose to keep in stock a number of displays that are of a common size but then custom make everything that does not fit that. This leads to really long lead times as displays have to be created from scratch and manufactured piece by piece to create the complete system.
Location Location Location: The LED business is a global one. Supply chains stretch across the globe. No matter what manufacturer you’re talking about, the odds are that they’re producing at least some of their components half a world away. It is just the nature of the business and it’s necessary to keep costs low so that you can afford your LED display in the first place but it does make the lead times much longer. The good news for the American economy and for buyers of LED displays who want their product fast is that steadily rising fuel costs are contributing to increased importation costs and rising labor costs overseas are decreasing the edge that foreign manufacturers have in being cost leaders. A trend has begun that is repatriating manufacturing jobs that were once lost to overseas markets. With this trend reversing, lead times should shorten as manufacturers are closer to the other parts of their supply chain.
Aging: The final factor involved in the long lead times is that all displays, when being manufactured need to be aged. This means they are turned on for an extended period of time and “burned in”. By turning on the displays and letting the bulbs burn brightly for a long time, the factory will see if any parts immediately go bad. This is where 95% of the problems with the display will be caught. A good aging test is what is needed to make sure your electronic LED signs are working their best but it does add a week or two to the production lead time.