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News / May 02, 2012

Ignition Used in Creating Self-Updating Digital Signage

Dream It & Do It

Dream ideas – those solutions that seem to be pie in the sky; perhaps impossible unless you just had tons of money and endless resources at your disposal. But for once, a product is available on the market that truly does let you dream up an idea, and then do it. If you haven’t guessed it already, it’s called Ignition by Inductive Automation.

This isn’t just some marketing hype. Customers tell us daily how they are using Ignition to create innovative solutions to problems in the automation industry and beyond. Here is one example told to us by Christopher J. Babb, Electrical Engineering Manager for VVF Illinois Services, LLC.

Dream It: Easily Display Safety Information to Plant Employees
“At VVF we needed to find a better method of displaying safety Information to all plant employees. The requirements were that it had to be a digital sign that would display the current safety status and safety information for the plant. Also, the data entry method needed to be performed through spreadsheets, or something similar.

“Our current method of displaying safety information to plant employees was a couple outdated signs. The first sign is old and the light bulbs that highlight the current safety status are expensive and prone to failure. The sign also requires daily intervention to display the correct numbers.

VVF's new self-updated sign is an effective and innovative method that replaced the old signs that had to be manually changed on a daily basis.

“The second sign is a whiteboard that contains department safety information and daily notes. This sign also requires daily intervention to update because the information has to be handwritten on the board.

“We were asked to come up with an alternative to the existing safety information signs and the process of updating them. We went through several different potential solutions for replacing the existing sign system:

1. We considered re-purposing some of our out-of-service computers to run a slide-show application on a large high-definition monitor. This was an unworkable solution because of the old computer’s display limitations and incompatibility issues with the video cards.

2. Another consideration was to purchase a new desktop or laptop computer to run existing slide-show software. This was also not workable due to the capabilities and limitations of the software application.

3. Our final option was to purchase an inexpensive, dedicated media center computer that would run digital signage software with live data update capabilities. We chose this method as it seemed to be the most workable at the time.

“We purchased the recommended media center computer and digital signage software we needed to get started.”

“However, it quickly became apparent that while the media center computer was a good choice, the digital signage software was lacking in the capabilities we required. We talked with the software company several times to work out a solution and in the end; they presented us their own custom solution. They offered to design web pages for us that would display our safety information and a custom program that could be used to update the display – at an additional cost.”

“While this would satisfy the basic requirements of the project, we felt it to be cumbersome and expensive. It would have caused us to rely too much on a third party to make changes that would inevitably lead to additional costs in the future.”

Do It: Create a Self-Updating Digital Display
“We spent several days looking for alternative sign display software and discovered that the entire digital signage industry was absolutely outrageous in terms of its offerings and especially the pricing structure of its products.

Ignition was the perfect solution to make a digital sign that displays safety information as well as date, time and weather.

Ignition makes it easy to update the sign via a smartphone.

“Completely discouraged in looking for a pre-canned solution, we considered using industrial HMI software to provide what we needed. Then, while looking over some plant data in Ignition, we realized that we already had everything we needed sitting right in front of us.”

“Using Ignition we were able to quickly put together an initial solution and presented it to our safety director.

“This sign is running on a 42-inch high-definition commercial grade LED TV and replaces both the existing sign and whiteboard.

Because Ignition is database driven, the information for the day counts is calculated automatically for each department through database queries, eliminating the need for someone to update the sign daily.

Thanks to the wealth of information in the Ignition support forum and the built-in scripting language in Ignition, we added some other great features to the sign to make it even more dynamic. We added live weather data that is pulled in through the Yahoo Weather Site and we added a message box that allows for 4 different messages to smoothly scroll vertically at the bottom of the screen.

The sign is easily set up through a smart phone or desktop computer: The plant safety status is updated through a simple drop-down menu and the incident dates are chosen from calendar pop-ups. The messages are entered from a second setup page that allows for text coloring as well as the speed of the scrolling messages.”

“The project is ongoing so there will certainly be changes and additions over time. Moving forward we are looking at providing this information in personalized formats for each department.”


Christopher J. Babb
Electrical Engineering Manager
VVF Illinois Services, LLC

We love to hear how folks are using Ignition's powerful features to creatively solve problems, both big and small. If you have a story about how Ignition has made your job easier, let us know. If you can dream it, you can do it with Ignition.

The Vegetable Vitamin Foods Company was established in 1939 in India by Godrej Pallonji Joshi. Today VVF is a multinational oleochemical and personal care products company which continually strives to improve and innovate their products, brands and business processes to suit the constantly-changing needs of their customers worldwide. To find out more about VVF LLC go to: