1992; a time when Sir Mix-a-Lot’s Baby Got Back, graced (and has since never left) our airwaves, when we first partied on with Wayne and Garth, when smokers were first introduced to the nicotine patch and when DNA fingerprinting changed forensic science techniques forever.

Things have certainly changed, technology being no exception.

Some readers may recall that 1992 also saw the birth of the first ever smartphone: the IBM Simon Personal Communicator (code name: Angler), capable of sending and receive faxes, e-mails and cellular pages (you know, a beeper) and that was fantastic, for the 90s.

Inevitably, as the years wiz by, we require more from our phones; we need internet banking, online shopping, Skype, a built in Sat Nav, e-books, to be logged on to social media at all times, and access to as many hilarious cat videos as possible.

Having not upgraded a crucial piece of its own technology since 1992, Munich Airport knew that it was not offering travellers the service they deserved in 2015.

With 39 million passengers passing through its departure and arrival gates every year, the flight information display system (FIDS) is a mission-critical piece of technology at the airport.

The original analogue FIDS had been in operation since the airport opened in 1992, representing arrival and departure information on multiple small LEDs.

This particular system suffered from frequent LED failures, thus required a high level of IT maintenance and intervention to keep it operational, leading Munich Airport to search for a replacement solution that could reliably display flight arrival and departure information with minimal downtime. 

“Munich Airport is an existing customer of InoNet,” Benedikt Merl, marketing communications manager at systems integration company InoNet Computer GmbH, tells Commercial Integrator Europe.

“We started building implementing the first digital flight information systems at the airport.
This development has now culminated in the 72 display video wall at Munich Airport Center.”

A FIDS fit for 2015

InoNet had prior experience with Matrox M-Series graphics cards, which support up to eight displays from a single board at up to 2560×1600 per screen.

“The problem with the previous LED system was that it had one decisive flaw: since it consisted of numerous small LEDs, it was extremely common for a single LED to fail”

Using a Matrox M9148 quad-monitor and M9188 octal-monitor graphics card combination within six of Matrox’s Magnius-2 video wall controller systems, InoNet was able to power 72 NEC X463UN displays, each at Full HD resolutions of 1920×1080.

With the display’s narrow 5.7mm bezel, a user-friendly viewing angle of 178° was enabled, making each of the 72 displays completely visible from any front-viewing position.

For that added peace of mind, the displays have been specifically configured with a fail-safe feature to ensure continuous operation.

“The wall is constructed on top of the previous mounting system for the analogue LED flight information board,” explains Benedikt. “The NEC displays are an ideal
solution for this project where maintenance was to be kept at an absolute minimum.”

The displays are controlled in six groups with 12 displays per group. Each of the six groups is powered by an InoNet video wall controller called Magnius-II.

Meanwhile, all PCs boast Intel XEON CPU and 8GB of error correcting memory, thereby offering ample computing capacity to supply 12 monitors with HD images around the clock.

Those passing through the airport today might be interested to know that Munich Airport now hosts one of the world’s largest flight information display systems in an 18×4, 72-monitor wall that spans 19m wide by 2.30m high.

By switching to a digital FIDS running on a reliable video wall comprising large, Full HD displays powered by Matrox M-Series graphics cards, more flights can now be displayed in a clear and easy to read form.

IT staff now have taken a back seat in the day-to-day operation of the system, while passengers can quickly get to when and where they have to be.

“The video wall controllers feature a Matrox M9148 quad-monitor and M9188 octal-monitor graphics card combination,” explains Benedikt.

“To deliver a high-display density canvas with pristine content, you need a high-quality graphics engine which Matrox cards offer in a very reliable fashion.”

“Our aim was to deliver a very clear image across all 72 displays,” adds Susanne Gomez, key account manager at InoNet.

“We don’t use daisy chaining
to stretch the image across the wall, but rather supply each display individually with HD content. PCI Express cards by Matrox enabled us to realise this kind of installation under Windows 7 in a speedy and simple fashion.”

Continued…‘Working 9 to 5…am’…

Working 9 to 5…am

Not wanting to disrupt its normal service, the installation had to be conducted during the night, which saw the InoNet team work from 9.30pm until 5.30am.

“There is very little commotion at the airport during these hours,” Benedikt reflects. “We split the construction into two equal halves and built each half in night shifts over two weeks taking a total of one month. Thereby we managed to set up the massive video wall without obstructing the airport’s daily business.”

Another challenge presented itself when the team realised that the previous analogue installation was mounted on a bearer system that they needed to use for the new video wall.

“This was tricky as the new wall is considerably wider that its predecessor! To support the new concept, we had to attach strong traverses to the existing bearer system.

“The problem with the previous LED system was that it had one decisive flaw,” Benedikt reveals. “Since it consisted of numerous small LEDs, it was extremely common for a single LED to fail.

“The NEC displays are an ideal
solution for this project where maintenance was to be kept at an absolute minimum”

“This meant that maintenance of the wall was a very regular occurrence, taking up lots of time and obstructing the airport’s business.

“The new system, on the other hand, consists solely of very durable parts, displays as well as PC hardware. The installation doesn’t just look a lot better that the old analogue system, but is also a lot more efficient and user-friendly.”

A lockable cabinet can be found on top of the walkway where the construction is mounted which houses the PCs for easy access should the need arise for any maintenance.

“I think that our favourite part of the install is the low maintenance approach to the whole project,” Benedikt reflects.

“We are very proud to have played a key part in the implementation of one of the world’s largest flight information displays. This project has proven InoNet as one of the major integrators for complex digital signage applications in Europe.”

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