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Increasingly innovative LED solutions

20 November 2020

Upgrading to the latest LED lighting for logistics applications has the potential to deliver many benefits. Graeme Shaw discusses the importance of understanding some key characteristics of today’s advanced lighting solutions in order to fully realise these benefits

LED lighting is now well established as the preferred lighting solution for all logistics applications. The benefits of LED lighting are largely due to the significantly improved energy efficiency and a much longer lamp life, the latter having implications for maintenance and other cost of ownership parameters. This is particularly important in high ceiling buildings, as access to the luminaires can be both difficult and disruptive so reduced maintenance requirements are beneficial.
Lighting also makes a significant contribution to the day to day running of a company including the optimisation of organisational efficiency, increased employee wellbeing and asset management. Busy logistics environments need adequate lighting to ensure that all workers, including delivery drivers and warehouse members, are operating machinery within a safe environment.

Optimisation of organisational efficiency

One of the most difficult situations a company faces in our fast-moving world is a constantly changing market. Ensuring continuous growth requires efficiency, flexibility and the ability to respond to market developments. An innovative, future-proof lighting solution forms the basis for a successful organisation and provides intelligent, sustainable and cost-effective lighting.

Rapid developments in technology have increased the scope and complexity of lighting systems

Rapid developments in technology have increased the scope and complexity of lighting systems, from dimming the luminaires in the summer months to saving electricity by only illuminating the work spaces required. Intelligent lighting management systems collect data autonomously from different areas and extract meaningful conclusions and benefits from the analysis, enabling the identification of cost reduction potentials. Using internet connectivity, data is collected and analysed, giving access to new information that can detect opportunities to optimise processes. Intelligent controls can be easily and rapidly installed, recommissioned and adapted to changes with minimal disruption which is extremely important in a space that may well be in constant use.

Increased employee wellbeing

The logistics workforce has to face many new challenges, including technical advances, machine automation and, more recently, artificial intelligence. In these areas, highly customised lighting solutions are required to increase employee’s health and wellbeing. Poor lighting can have the potential to increase staff sickness, through eyestrain and headaches, resulting in poor performance of tasks. The spaces to be lit, predominantly by artificial light, require a highly customised lighting solution. The individual’s needs, tasks and preferences are factored in, enabling maximum visual comfort and stimulating positive emotions.

Natural daylight temperatures vary throughout the day from warm white to cool white. The human body is conditioned to react to those changes with the suppression or stimulation in the production of hormones such as Melatonin, Serotonin and Cortisol, which control how we function in the day time and during night time rest. A well-designed lighting solution supports people to immerse themselves fully in their respective tasks and activities at work and can improve sleep patterns come the end of the day. Basic planning parameters and current standards for workplaces must be taken into consideration. There are of course additional factors which also important such as the minimum levels of light for safety reasons and ease of use, helping negate the need for user intervention.

Savings in energy & costs

An example of the many benefits the right lighting solution can deliver is Selco Builders Warehouse, one of the UK’s leading and most forward-thinking builders’ merchants. In 2019 Selco begun a plan to upgrade their older branches with smart and efficient LED lighting. Selco have over 70 stores across England and Wales, that are open for a combined total of more than 5400 hours a week or more than a quarter of a million hours a year. When selecting a lighting manufacturer for the upgrade of their stores, Selco had to take a responsible and proactive approach to energy efficiency, allowing the company to keep its environmental impact as low as possible. Thorn Lighting (a lighting brand of the Zumtobel Group) were the chosen manufacturer for the lighting upgrade.

Thorn have introduced a responsive sensor-controlled lighting system connected to each individual branch of Selco’s stores, with the use of their HiPak Pro, Aquaforce, Julie and Omega luminaires, the sensors operate in tandem with each individual LED luminaire. This has enabled Selco to react to the contribution of natural daylight delivered via the transparent roof lighting panels in-store, thus producing the necessary light levels required rather than constantly being at a high fixed lighting output. By utilising daylight harvesting technology, the efficiency of the lighting system has increased between 10 and 15%.

The light levels change in brightness, depending on the availability of natural lighting in the store, and have seen an increase of over 100% in most areas, now up to 750 lux from under 200 lux in some stores, whilst keeping energy usage to an absolute minimum. The amount of maintenance required has also reduced, which benefits customers and enables Selco to keep all areas of the store open without disruption during working hours.

Environmentally, the impact of Selco moving to LED is astonishing, resulting in a saving of almost 69 tonnes of carbon in just one store every year.  Scaled over all their branches that represents the equivalent of almost 200,000 trees – or 89 football pitches full of trees. Having smart meters installed across the Selco estate has allowed the staff to monitor energy reductions closely. A good example of savings is Selco’s Reading branch where electricity usage has plummeted from 141,565kWh since March 2018 to 86,774kWh in the same period this year – a decrease of 40%. Over the same period, kWh usage at the Tyseley branch has seen a decrease of more than 55% and the Croydon branch has achieved savings of almost £30,000 over the course of a year.

Howard Luft, chief executive of Selco Builders Warehouse, said: “In terms of savings, both financially and in terms of saving energy, the results have been as dramatic as they have been impressive,"

Asset tracking

The ability to locate important items quickly within a building helps to increase efficiency. This is especially important during a complex process, to be able to track machinery and vehicles or locate expensive equipment to prevent delays or standstills. The digital information transmitted to hand-held devices via a smart lighting installation takes logistics management to new levels, greatly improving processes and efficiency, whilst ensuring that assets don’t get lost and man hours aren’t wasted.

Digital information transmitted to hand-held devices via a smart lighting installation takes logistics management to new levels

A flexible, innovative, future-proof lighting solution offers the perfect light for the most varied visual tasks, not only at the time of installation, but optimally for future changes and extensions. This helps form the basis for a successful organisation and provides intelligent, sustainable and cost-effective lighting. There is no doubt that the right combination of LED light sources, luminaires and controls will provide a solution that improves lighting quality whilst also reducing energy and carbon emissions with minimum life-cycle costs. Making sure you have the ‘right combination’ necessitates a thorough evaluation of all the criteria that might impact on a company’s performance.

Graeme Shaw is technical application manager at Zumtobel Group