LEDs and smart equipment are transforming industrial lighting

With industrial plants having to become “smarter” in every way, whether this means energy management or maintenance and production, lighting has a role to play and is a factor of improvement that deserves to be taken on board.

An avenue for improvement that is sometimes side-lined, lighting is nonetheless a vector of energy performance in industry, since it represents from 2% to 15% of a site’s electricity bill and brings improvements in working conditions, both of which should be taken into consideration. Conventional equipment has a limited life span and requires frequent maintenance to respond to the constraints of production and accessibility of installations. Smart equipment using LEDs responds to these issues by providing solutions that are more economical in the long term and also more ecological.

The global LED lighting market is expected to grow by 25% looking to 2020

Energy and maintenance time savings: LEDs, an enlightened choice

In a sector where changes in production processes can be complex and give rise to reservations, optimisation of industrial lighting is a first step towards energy savings . “LED lighting consumes much less energy than all the preceding technologies,” explains Laurent Duval, manager of the Actemium Angers business unit. Set against the constant increase in energy costs, the impact of lower lighting costs on the bill is quite significant, since the reduction can be as much as 60%. “Relamping is often the first step in a global energy-efficiency drive. When an industrial company sees proof that changing its lighting equipment lets it make electricity savings, it will be more inclined to envisage and carry out other energy saving initiatives. You could say that lighting is a first step towards energy efficiency for some of our customers”, says Jérémy Renaux, energy efficiency engineer with Actemium.

Relamping is often the first step in a global energy-efficiency drive. When an industrial company sees proof that changing its lighting equipment lets it make electricity savings, it will be more inclined to envisage and carry out other energy saving initiatives.

“Another factor that is less evident since it doesn’t immediately spring to mind is the potentially significant maintenance savings following a relamping”, continues Jérémy Renaux. In buildings with high ceilings where access to lighting equipment is complex, whether or not they are positioned right above the machines, installation of LEDs facilitates upkeep and maintenance. “A LED lamp has a life span that is five times longer than a fluorescent tube, around 50,000 hours as opposed to 8,000 to 10,000 hours. This means that routine maintenance work can be carried out at longer intervals,” explains Laurent Duval.

Customised LEDs for industry

“In the past, the level of lighting considered satisfactory was more a question of habit. People believed that depending on the sector, more or less lighting was required. But now the lighting standard is definitely in place “, says Laurent Duval. “lt defines the type of equipment to be installed and the ground lighting required depending on the industrial sector concerned. From one site to another, the ambiance can vary as can the constraints: dust, temperature, atmospheric corrosivity, etc. Compliance with lighting regulations is as important as compliance for any other sector in industrial plants, such as safety, for instance, with standards that must be applied in all industrial domains.”

“Redesigning lighting on a better basis with a new technology that respects European standards is an additional strength for Actemium”, adds Laurent Duval. “Our capacity and our experience in all types of engineering in the industrial environment require us to include LED installations as part of this global knowledge. We can’t just be LED specialists and take no interest in the global environment. We need to propose equipment that will be reliable in the context in which we install it,” continues the business unit manager. “Lighting expertise also includes analysing the systems to avoid degrading or polluting the company’s electrical network due to harmonic currents.”

LEDs, a driver of dynamism in the company?

The advantages of LED lighting are not just financial. “With LED lighting, we bring daylight into the plant. We use light spectrums that resemble daylight and in this way improve both lighting and ambiance,” explains Laurent Duval. “More effective and uniform lighting improves employee comfort, which contributes to both greater wellbeing and productivity.”

On top of the comfort aspect it brings a “greener” image, an environment-friendly approach that is beneficial for the company and that can lead on to other changes. “We’ve seen customers decide to repaint their floors or walls at the same time as they renovate their lighting system, so as to improve overall lighting conditions. It re-energises the people working in the plant and gives a new impetus that boosts the profile of the company’s products and its image,” explains Laurent Duval.

LEDs and smart lighting for better energy performance

The new generation of LED lighting is becoming smart, capable of modulating its lighting level as a function of a number of parameters, for instance:

  • outside lighting with twilight lighting sensors: an independent cell or a cell integrated into LED lighting equipment evaluates the quantity of artificial light to be added to natural lighting to achieve a level of lighting comfort defined in lux
  • the presence of staff in the building or in specific areas such as a storage alley, with a presence detection sensor that is integrated in or independent of the equipment installed.

Connected to a centralised technical management system, lighting equipment must be capable of reporting its current consumption but also the historical data and total length of use. “Lighting equipment is becoming more interactive; we will be able to track its past performance, give it orders, and influence the quality and quantity of light as well as the quantity of energy consumed. That’s a revolution in itself,” concludes Jérémy Renaux.