TwinEngines used Azure AI Vision to help Formetco to remotely monitor billboards and quickly identify when a billboard is down.

Manufacturers, supply chain companies, and specialty contractors are wondering: “What can I do with AI?”
Formetco used AI to save countless hours of manual monitoring.

OVERVIEW: Formetco manufactures and installs the digital billboards you see on the highway. As with any technology, these billboards must be monitored and maintained – a challenge solved by mounting a camera that transmits snapshots of the billboard to an operations center. If the image reveals a problem, a crew is dispatched to fix the billboard.

CHALLENGE: With several thousand billboards in operation and pictures being taken in regular intervals, it’s almost impossible to study each picture and identify which billboards need attention. TwinEngines used AI to build a solution.

SOLUTION: Using Azure AI Vision, TwinEngines developed an AI tool that could quickly determine whether a billboard was functioning properly. This seems straightforward, but those images needed to be interpreted. The same billboard on a sunny day, rainy day, passing clouds, or late at night will appear different. What if there is dirt on the lens? Even more difficult – how does the computer distinguish dark pixels from dark chocolate?

The first step was to build an application that uploaded images into the Azure Vision model and compared them to training images showing a billboard up or down.

The manual review recognized the difference between a slice of chocolate and dead pixels. After sufficient images were categorized, the AI model was sufficiently trained for predictive analysis.

The next step was to create an application that returns a confidence factor on whether the billboard was clearly down or needed additional scrutiny. These results were fed back into the training model for ongoing machine learning.

RESULTS: Rather than manually reviewing thousands of images daily, the model quickly identified problem billboards within minutes.

The system now prioritizes alerts and reduces the time to resolve critical issues.

Using Microsoft’s ML.NET, an open-source library for machine learning, we plan to move away from a cloud-hosted model, monitor all billboards, and eliminate Formetco’s Azure AI licensing costs.


  • Microsoft Dynamics Customer Engagement (CE)
  • Azure AI Custom Vision
  • .NET MVC Web Application
  • SQL Server
  • SQL Server Reporting Services

“AI is not a magical black box that solves your problems. It is a tool set that can be used to solve a manufacturing or distribution problem by breaking it  into discrete steps.”

Kevin Seefried
TwinEngines President

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