We attended a distributions solutions conference last week and talked to numerous facility managers and operations executives about their sites, concerns, and about Digital Lumens’ approach to industrial lighting.  Whether they were interested in freezer doors, tractor-trailers, lift systems, or all of the above, the attendees we spoke to shared a common commitment to operational excellence.

One of the key ways to achieve operational excellence is to maximize energy efficiency and there were some excellent sessions on that topic.  The best quote came from John Fershtand, Director of Fleet Operations and Energy Management from Ben E. Keith Company in Dallas.  In his session on “Energy Management KPIs,” where he co-presented with Geoff Wickes of Cascade Energy Engineering, he was emphatic when he said, “Manage your utility bill.  Don’t just pay it.”  We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.   We consider lighting to be an asset that should be managed like any other.

Managing lighting as an asset is a fairly new concept – made possible by this new generation of products.  It’s built on the idea that lighting can be managed and controlled to maximize efficiency, while providing safe and useful illumination levels.  When discussing this next generation of lighting, a number of questions came up:

  • Are LEDs suitable for highbay applications?
  • Can I gain efficiency without sacrificing light levels or quality?
  • Who else has done this?  How is it going?
  • What do I need to know to make sure I make a good product decision?
  • What’s the ROI timeframe?

Here are our thoughts:

  • LEDs’ suitability for high-intensity applications — LEDs have – without a doubt — reached performance levels that make them ideal for highbay use — without tradeoffs in light quality or levels. People have heard that LEDs are not suitable for certain applications, including highbay.  Amusingly, the source of that statement is, most often, fluorescent vendors who see the writing on the wall.
  • Efficiency without sacrificing light levels – Intelligent Lighting Systems deliver maximum efficiency and the highest quality light output.  It is the integration of the intelligence with the solid-state (LED) light source that delivers unprecedented levels of efficiency.
  • Who else has done this? How’s it going? – Numerous facilities – some of the largest warehouses and broadline distributors — have adopted Intelligent Lighting Systems and are saving millions of kWh per year.
  • What do I need to know? – Certifications matter.  A lot.  No matter which vendors’ products are being considered, make sure that they have DesignLights Consortium (DLC) approval and are listed on the Qualified Products List (note: DLC has picked up where EnergyStar leaves off and is used by participating utilities for rebate programs).  UL Listing – for the entire fixture is critical.  Some vendors will say they have UL, but it has only been granted for some subsection of the product.  Lighting Facts is important, as well.
  • Do your homework – Before starting a project, gather all key data for your analysis – current energy bill, kWh rate (current and projected), number of fixtures in your facility, maintenance schedules and expenses, and any other information related to your lighting.
  • Do a TCO analysis – Total Cost of Ownership is the right framework for evaluating any energy efficiency initiative.  ROI only tells part of the story and ignores the long-term costs.  TCO factors all variables over a 5-year period.  In many cases, the ‘cheaper chicken’ up front is not necessarily the better bet for the long run – by a long shot.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and took the time to discuss their concerns with us.  We certainly enjoyed meeting you all.