Dialight CEO FARIYAL KHANBABI outlines a roadmap for industrial lighting innovation, with decarbonization, transparency, and environmental responsibility placing new demands on suppliers of robust fixtures.
The past two years have played a pivotal role in reshaping society, business, and communities worldwide. Companies have had to lead with courage and take more responsibility in ensuring their initiatives benefit all stakeholders. This year, sustainability will remain a top priority across the industrial sector, with corporations looking to demonstrate tangible progress toward net-zero commitments and overall environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) goals. With guidance from the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) setting an objective to halve emissions from electricity by 2030, the need for action has never been more urgent.
This year, we expect LED lighting manufacturers to continue advancing fixtures with safety and sustainability at the forefront. LED lighting remains a powerful solution for companies to start decarbonizing the industrial sector and offers added benefits regarding safety in industrial applications. The ability of LEDs to reduce carbon emissions over legacy lighting technologies is staggering, with significantly less energy consumption and up to two-thirds fewer emissions. Continued innovation will only further accelerate LED lighting adoption.
The transition to net zero carbon is both an opportunity and obligation to help drive meaningful change in the industrial sector.
LED versus legacy lighting
LED lighting has proven to have many key advantages over legacy lighting technologies, particularly when used in industrial applications. LEDs are the most efficient lighting source on the market, do not contain toxic materials such as mercury, and can be dimmed or turned to full brightness instantly while offering better protection against vibration and other harsh environmental conditions.
Compact, long-lasting LED fixtures typically do not require replacement bulbs or ballasts, are future-ready, and offer reduced maintenance. Lastly, the ability to customize lighting schedules based on advanced controls capabilities has made LED lighting a true technology disruptor for the industrial sector.
The future must look beyond LPW
For years, LED lighting manufacturers have been in a race to maximize energy efficiency in the context of lumens per watt (LPW). In pursuit of this metric, some manufacturers have sacrificed other key performance factors, such as thermal management and power supply life. Some have even removed lenses to achieve higher luminous efficacy, exposing LEDs to extreme environmental conditions. What many fail to realize is that sacrificing features that protect the performance and longevity of the fixture simply to be labeled as sustainable or energy-efficient ultimately may result in a product with a shorter usable lifespan — which in turn reduces the return on investment in LED technology. Lighting manufacturers are turning to new solutions to add value for customers, beyond LPW.
The following reflects some of our focus areas in 2023. We expect others in the industry will follow suit.
Material science innovation and advanced protections. With efficiency reaching a plateau, the next frontier is material science. LED lighting manufacturers will be more mindful of the global warming potential (GWP), a measure of the impact different gases have on climate change, for each material used in fixture construction. To meet stringent demands for sustainability, designers will attempt to reduce GWP both upstream and downstream with more eco-friendly materials and recyclable fixtures. In industrial applications, this may be easier said than done, as it demands robust materials to protect vulnerable electrical components.
In 2023, we’ll see greater innovation in features aimed at protecting against the common culprits that can damage industrial LED lighting fixtures. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), reactive gases, and corrosive materials wreak havoc on even the most robust lighting components. We’ll see manufacturers protect their products with advanced coatings and state-of-the-art components that guard against these harsh substances to extend the life of the fixture, protect employees, and expedite the customer’s ROI.
Increased verification and transparency. Manufacturers understand the importance of validating sustainability claims and the need to provide data that supports their customers’ supply chain ESG metrics. We expect more manufacturers to pursue third-party credentials such as Environmental Product Declarations that quantify the carbon produced in their manufacturing operations. We also expect manufacturers to offer customers advanced reporting on energy usage and emissions to quantify progress against those customers’ energy efficiency and carbon reduction goals.
More eco-friendly offerings. One of the key benefits of LEDs is their ability to deliver crisp, near-daylight color temperature. However, the large concentration of blue light in the spectrum unnaturally brightens the night sky, contributing to light pollution, which affects wildlife and migratory patterns in a negative manner. The International Dark-Sky Association has begun recommending lights with a warmer color temperature to reduce night-sky impact created by electric light. As customers become more mindful of their environmental footprint, manufacturers will need to supply products that meet their needs and keep the environment in mind.
As industry comes under increased pressure to reduce carbon impact and operate more sustainably, LED manufacturers will continue to innovate, delivering more durable, safer, and sustainable products in 2023.