For businesses looking to add signage to their facilities, modular systems are clearly a great option. The benefits of modular signage systems are plentiful. Modular signage not only provides a professional look, it’s also a sustainable, updateable solution in locations where it’s installed—whether indoors or out.
“Modular signage offers both large and small businesses and organizations an ideal wayfinding/branding solution,” says Bill Freeman, vice president of Architectural Sales at Howard Industries, Fairview, Pa. “The system’s ease of assembly, installation and changeability is a no-brainer for sign shops.”
宾夕法尼亚州Fairview的Howard Industries公司建筑销售副总裁Bill Freeman表示：“模块化的标识系统为大型、小型企业和组织提供了理想的导视系统解决方案，该系统对于标识商店来说，非常易于对标识进行组装、安装和更换。”
Modular signage is available in numerous styles and its precision engineered components all but guarantee each sign will look and perform as it is designed. It can be easily installed and then swapped out and combined with decorative backers, providing eye-catching systems that effectively brand a company with the people working at or visiting the facility.
Increasingly, modular signs are being specified and requested by architects, designers and customers because of their versatility and all-around quality. With this surge in demand, modular sign manufacturers are expanding their product lines to accommodate a broader range of sign types. “A lot of sign types which at one point had to be custom fabricated, are now easily fabricated using existing components to design custom looking signs. Also, with the current state of the economy, many landlords are looking for signs that require inexpensive change outs because of the large turn-over of tenants,” states Stewart Curtis, owner/operator at Component Signage, Inc. (CSI) .
由于其多功能性和信息全面的优势，建筑师、设计师和客户越来越多地指定和要求制作模块化的标识系统。随着需求的激增，模块化的标识制造商开始不断地扩展其产品线，以适应更广泛的标识类型。Component Signage（CSI）公司的老板Stewart Curtis说：“大部分的标识产品都是定制生产的，而现在我们可以使用现有的标识部件来设计外观个性化的标识。此外，随着目前的经济发展，由于租户不断地在变动，许多老板都希望能在节省成本的情况下对标识进行更换和安装。”
“The key benefit to sign shops offering these types of products and services is simple; modular products and services are in high demand and a company that offers those products will be able to take advantage of a large customer base. An added benefit of modular products is that they tend to be more consistent in their construction. This leads to more consistent, quality signs that last longer, and can give a sign shop a good reputation with supplying quality products. One other benefit of a modular system is the customer even has the option to easily modify the sign after it is installed,” Curtis adds.
Changing Trends in Modular Signage Market
Over the past number of years, the modular signage market has gone through several changes. “We’ve seen a continuing decline of the traditional injection molded plastic and extruded aluminum band systems that dominated the market since the early 1980s,” says John Herren, general manager at Arris Signs in Atlanta, Ga. “Ten years ago, the most successful systems were those that offered the broadest range of aluminum parts, shapes and pieces, the most successful systems now are the ones with the best solutions to display digital output. And of course, looks remain an important part of the equation as well,” he adds.
在过去的几年中，模块化标识市场不断地在发生着变化。乔治亚州亚特兰大市Arris Signs公司的总经理John Herren说：“自20世纪80年代初以来，我见证了曾经占据市场主导地位的传统注塑塑料和挤压铝带材料的供应在不断下滑。十年前，最成功的系统是那些提供大量的铝制零件的系统，而现在最成功的系统是展示数字输出解决方案的系统，当然，产品外观也是这个变化发生的重要原因。”
Herren points out a more recent trend was the introduction of more organic shapes and decorative laminates into the modular systems market to meet the demand from interior designers for more creative signage options.
“With modular systems, this has been accomplished with decorative backers attached to standard sign frames but we’ve also seen custom fabricated acrylic window signs incorporating laminates and decorative finishes within the core sign construction itself,” Herren says. “Although the influx of more finishes and shapes has benefited the design community, the challenge for modular systems providers has been to incorporate these expensive options into a modular concept and still be price competitive with custom-fabricated solutions.”
Herren also reports a third trend where he is seeing a slight shift away from the curved-faced systems that have dominated the modular market for the past 7 to 8 years.
“The arc of curved signs naturally provides the compression necessary for displaying digital graphics, so it’s no surprise there are so many curved modular products on the market,” Herren says. “However, there seems to be a trend now toward slimmer products within the design community, coinciding with a similar trend with other visual products such as smartphones, computers, tablets, TVs, LED displays, etc. Low profile modular systems that can effectively accommodate digital output provide new, refreshing alternatives to the curve for clients seeking a slim design.”
Patrick Heatherington, senior manager of marketing and product management at ASI in Dallas is seeing more branding elements becoming a major issue in this market.
“Brand identity integration and custom design elements are being worked more and more into modular systems,” Heatherington says. “For the past decade, we’ve seen a continued increase in design accents, color-accurate brand identity logos, graphics and natural materials being integrated into modular signage. With the commoditization of materials from companies like 3form and the addition of finishing services like print on panel, this trend will continue going forward.”
Ophir Yerushalmy, PR manager at Vista System LLC, Sarasota, Fla. points to more green trends coming into play.
“There is a transition toward more green products and processes,” Yerushalmy says. “This trend includes many different changes that are slowly being adopted and include such issues as: decreasing, if not eliminating, the use of adhesives; the selection of recycled and recyclable packaging materials in addition to the redesign efforts performed on the products themselves; and the introduction of LED lighting, which is more energy efficient as well as the introduction of solar applications to outdoor signs.
“In addition, there is a growing trend for dedicated sector oriented product families, which makes it easier for a sign professional to enter a project with a complete dedicated line of products. For example, the Vista System Healthcare line or the Vista System GYM line have all the signage solutions a sign professional looking to create a sign schedule would need, all oriented to provide him with 100 percent match to said sector standards.”
He adds that it is very important that sign shops have a modular sign system to offer to their customers.
“Even if you consider yourself a custom shop or a specialized manufacturer for specific types of signs, like electric or vehicle graphics, it’s a good idea to be able to offer a modular sign system,” Yerushalmy says. “It’s only a matter of time before your customers request that you supply them with these types of solutions.
“Modular signage is perfect for wayfinding purposes, P.O.P. signage, trade show signage, ADA signage, digital signage and much more. In fact, there is no limit to the possibilities offered by modern modular sign systems.”
Pointing You in the Right Direction
The vast flexibility of modular signage solutions lends great efficiency to wayfinding plans. Herren says that modular signage is ideal for any identification or wayfinding application where future change or expansion is anticipated.
“This would include corporate environments, healthcare facilities, colleges and universities and government institutions but may not be the most suitable solution for facilities such as hotels or other environments where changes are unlikely or infrequent,” Herren says. “A custom solution with a lower front-end cost may be more appropriate in those cases, but with changes in personnel and/or shifting of departments or offices, modular solutions allow signage to be kept up-to-date much more easily and at a lower cost in the long term.”
“Modular signage systems are an ideal choice for wayfinding directional and information signage simply because wayfinding plans change over time due to tenant and department changes, brand identity changes and expansion and building renovations,” Heatherington adds.
Heatherington explains that there are a wide variety of modular systems for interior usage, so the best choice is the one that best complements the design of the architectural environment.
CSI’s Curtis says that wayfinding is an obvious application for modular in that it makes changing out separate lines of copy easy and very affordable.
“If the customer wants the ability to change out the lines of copy or simply wants the lines cleanly broken up with dividers, CSI offers a divider system for this application,” Curtis says. “A very professional look is to have the panels one color, and the signs, posts, frames, and the divider bars a contrasting color to create a very easy to read and attractive sign. The divider system can also be integrated into monument and pylons for a main ID sign.”
He adds that interior name and room number holders also are an excellent application to use modular signage.
“Ones that allow the copy to be slid in and out in a matter of seconds makes them extremely versatile in office settings when employee turnover and moving around of offices and cubicles comes into play,” Curtis says.
Indoor and Outdoor Solutions
Modular signage is a good choice for both indoor and outdoor applications.
“For indoors, a timeless paper insert modular design allows for future growth and provides the flexibility to easily change copy and graphics using laser printed paper inserts,” Freeman says. “A nice feature to this system is that a custom wood, marbled acrylic or routed accent can be easily added to make these signs blend into a wide variety of building interiors. They are easily customized with clear, non-glare ADA compliant lenses and graphics. This also has some green features with 75 percent of the aluminum used being from recycled material.” He continues that exterior signage can come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and both illuminated and non-illuminated.
“Illuminated signs are good choices for large signs making them popular and functional for primary and secondary site identification, wayfinding, parking and directional applications. They also come with changeable panel options with choice of aluminum panel with routed graphics or polycarbonate panels and vinyl graphics,” Freeman adds.
Herren points out that for interior environments, there are two essential factors for modular systems.
“First, ensure that the system offers enough design options to enable it to coordinate aesthetically with the interiors of the facility,” Herren says. “Signs play a key role in a facility’s image, so don’t always go with the cheapest option. Secondly, ease of maintaining a system is critical, so to this end, modular signs that offer a wide range of options for laser printed graphics that can be updated at the facility level make the most sense. Changes happen quickly in today’s fast-paced environment, so providing clients with a system they can update themselves is essential. Some sign shops may view this as losing repeat sign business for insert updates and replacements, but if you don’t provide a solution that’s best for the client, one of your competitors surely will.”
For exterior environments, Herren says a primary consideration has to be the overall quality and durability of the system relative to the harshness of the installation environment.
“Is it a coastal environment with high winds and salty air? Is it an environment with intense sunlight? Is it an urban environment with a high risk of vandalism? Durable systems with extruded aluminum components and stainless steel hardware are often the smartest choice,” Herren says. “When choosing an exterior modular sign system, make sure it’s well engineered and has a track record of solid performance. Quality is of course important with interior signs as well, but when exposed to harsh elements, it needs to be the primary consideration for exterior signs where the first impression is made upon visitors to a facility.”
Herren states that Arris is a trade-only modular system ideal for signage and P.O.P. displays in virtually any indoor environment.
“Aluminum sign frames in a wide range of sizes and configurations are shipped pre-fabricated to sign shops that can then easily provide digitally printed graphics, Braille/tactile plaques for ADA compliance, decorative backers and/or other design elements as needed for a particular specification. We feature a slim system, and while it offers a solution for every sign type within a facility, it doesn’t offer so many sizes and configurations so as to be overwhelming for a sign shop.”
Maintenance is the Key
Heatherington points out that the continued maintenance/upkeep with these products is vital.
“It’s always interesting to see that facility management teams will invest on the initial purchase and installation of a sign system that can cost as much as a brand new Porsche or Mercedes-Benz, but they will fail to do basic maintenance and upkeep,” Heatherington says. “For exterior signage, basic wash-downs with mild-soap and water on a quarterly basis will help the paint finish last longer and remove corrosive chemicals that usually get over-sprayed by grounds-keeping crews.”
He adds that facilities can save exterior signage by putting basic native vegetation around the base of the sign.
“This impedes grounds keeping crews from striking the signs with weed eaters or lawnmowers,” Heatherington says. “For interior signage, it should be wiped down with a dry soft cloth and stains or spots should be removed using a mild soap and water application that is wiped off and dried afterward.”
Curtis adds that shops have to tailor their products to their client’s needs and environments they are located in.
“We offer several sign systems that make maintenance and change outs easy for all the parties involved; even in the harshest weather conditions,” Heatherington says. “For instance, when installing post and panel signs, keep in mind the height of the sign along with the jobsite’s ground freeze levels when deciding how far to bury the posts. Most northern state’s freeze levels are 30-inches deep, so you will want to go at least that deep or another six inches below that to ensure adequate mounting depth. If removability is needed, then other mounting options such as mounting sleeves and baseplates are easily integrated options that make moving or replacing whole signs an easy option.”
“The beauty of many modular signs is that they need minimal upkeep,” Curtis says. “If they are painted using polyurethane paint finishes, like those used by CSI, they can have a finish life of approximately seven years. With products such as our 6-inch framed lighted series being used, changing out bulbs only requires the removal of four screws to easily access the sign internals. If your customer is looking for a sign with multiple tenants or lines of copy, consider going with a multi-message divided sign. This allows the versatility of the copy easily being switched out on-site, which will cut down on costs if a change out is needed.”
Tips for Selecting Modular Signage
• Choose a sign system that is easy to install and update even by in-house staff.
• Choose a sign system that has a modern, contemporary and clean look.
• Check the product inside out; ask for data sheets that reflect the specifications of the system.
• Check the range of available sizes.
• Look for a sign system that will support the entire project.
• Look for a sign system that offers both modular-pre made, and custom made solutions.
• Choose a sign system that is compatible with Braille sign methods.