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Industrial lighting considerations

Things to consider for your industrial lighting solution

There are a number of things you should consider for your industrial lighting solution, many of which depend on the specific type of environment that they will be used in. We have discussed some of these considerations below.

Eaton's dedicated lighting design team can fully design and model your installation based upon your space, any special considerations and relevant lighting legislation and guidelines.

Distribution & Storage

A large proportion of most industrial production and manufacturing facilities is given over to distribution and storage.

Storage encompasses both raw materials and finished goods.

Distribution is concerned with storage, sorting and dispatch of goods. This may be finished goods in a manufacturing environment or selection and repacking of stored goods in a distribution warehouse.

Regardless of the operation, there are some key lighting design elements to consider...

Man moving boxes in a warehouse

Open or racked areas

Lighting selection in these areas can vary by the task due to be performed. An open area benefits from a lighting contribution from numerous sources in a regular array, this assists with modelling and the reduction of shadowing associated with working under a few large output light sources. In closely racked areas, the availability of light sources is limited to those in direct sight, other sources might be concealed by the height of the racking. In these areas, luminaires with high vertical illuminance properties are recommended. These aid in visual acuity and task recognition. Multiple lower powered sources are preferred to small numbers of high powered luminaires. These areas are often used by fork trucks and this method of illumination also reduces glare to operators where the task repeatedly involves looking up.

Colour and task recognition

A large proportion of the activity in these spaces is labour intensive and relies heavily on recognition. Visual acuity is a vital component of the task where the immediate correct identification of goods is crucial. Luminaires which display a good CRI rating (colour rendering) have been shown to improve operator performance accuracy.

Special considerations

Due to the confined conditions associated with racked areas, emergency lighting and signage need to be designed to be visible regardless of where people are located. In some instances, additional provision should be made to aid in the event of an emergency or evacuation. Viewing distances for signage also needs to be adequate for the large continuous spaces associated with warehousing. Low-level background lighting may be required for dark spaces for improve security and personnel comfort.

Lighting controls

Due to the work patterns in distribution and storage areas, they benefit immensely from lighting controls. Absence detection, combined with any available daylight harvesting can reduce energy consumption dramatically. Unoccupied spaces lit by LED solutions offer a rapid on-off switching cycle due to the LED's ability to reach full output in milliseconds, compared to a cold fluorescent which has to 'warm up'.


General industrial areas cover the majority of spaces found in the industrial environment. These may be as diverse as heavy manufacture, to final assembly of finished goods and precise inspection of materials.

The provision of adequate lighting to industrial work and process spaces is essential to the successful outcome and safety of those involved.

The ability to carry out a task quickly and accurately increases productivity and benefits all concerned. In planning effective lighting there are many points to consider.

The task

The correct level of illuminance and quality of light allows people to perform the task correctly and safely. Every effort should be made to identify what the task involves prior to considering lighting design. Also consider the stakeholders needs and expectations of the space.

Localised lighting

The diversity of tasks within the environment often means that the general lighting is not specific enough. Supplementary and dedicated lighting may be required immediately adjacent to the task, such as final inspection of goods, precise work on a bench etc. It is also more efficient to use specific localised task lighting than to light the whole space to the level required.

Legal requirements

Many situations in industrial lighting will be covered by local legal requirements. Often these requirements are prescriptive as to illuminance levels and other considerations such as glare, colour temperature and the colour rendering properties of the luminaires being considered. Adopting these requirements demonstrates commitment to people and the quality of their working environment.

Energy efficiency and sustainability

Using the energy available to us wisely is a must in the modern world. Understanding the task and lighting needs can help in the selection of the most efficient and suitable lighting products. Using the latest technology, in this case LED lighting, has proven to show energy and therefore cost savings in excess of 80% in some cases. If the task involves some periods of inactivity or absence, selecting controls to manage the space can further reduce energy consumption - making it a key tool in energy efficient factory lighting.

Tasks with special consideration

Where rotating or reciprocating machinery is in close proximity to people, it may present a stroboscopic effect. This means people may not fully see moving parts. A method to inhibit this is to have the local lighting powered from more than one phase of the electrical supply. Other operations are subject to extra care particularly in situations where the safe evacuation of people would be required in an emergency. Checking whether the process can be left running or needs to be shut down will dictate what emergency and / or standby lighting system should be selected. Local emergency lighting regulations may also cover these requirements. Emergency directional signage may also be required.

Lighting controls

Energy costs are one of the most significant factors for an operation.

Whilst LED lighting is inherently low energy when compared to many other forms of illumination, combining LED luminaires with a well-designed lighting control strategy may reap the highest benefits.

There are a number of different ways in which lighting controls can enhance your space, dependent on your application.

Control options on an industrial luminaire

Presence / Absence detection

Automatically determining whether a space is occupied and, therefore, should be lit is a minimum standard in any energy efficient lighting scheme. Care should be taken not to have the effect of continually switching on and off adjacent areas to the detriment of visual comfort. Detection zones, provided by sensors, should match the spacing of the luminaires to ensure operator/employee movements are detected correctly - meaning areas are lit when you need them to be.

Daylight linking

Perhaps the easiest and most obvious energy saving strategy is to use available daylight to light a space where appropriate. Modern lighting can be designed to supplement, rather than replace, the natural light levels throughout the day by allowing luminaires to dim up or down dependent on levels of natural light. A study of the site should be undertaken at design stage to evaluate the practicality and savings potential of this technology.

Constant illumination

Some systems offer the ability to maintain a strict illumination level which allows for the natural deterioration and environmental condition which would reduce the illumination in normal conditions. This compensating feature can be a benefit to certain critical processes and continuity of work.

Reconfigure the space

Controls offer a multitude of advantages to any organisation. Work patterns do change and any control system design should have flexibility designed in to allow for the reconfiguration of a space post completion.

Luminaire communication system

Many systems are available that allow a group of luminaires to be controlled from a single point of detection. Designers should work with the site owners to establish an effective strategy for each space on an individual basis.

Industrial Lighting Whitepaper

Learn more about how selecting the right industrial lighting is key to achieving an energy-efficient, comfortable and safe working environment. Our white-paper outlines the changing evolution of LED and the many considerations that decision-makers should look to address.