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How LEDs can boost quality and efficiency at industrial facilities

Modern LEDs are taking the world by storm. Bright, beautiful and efficient, they’re lighting everything from kitchens and bathrooms to skyscrapers and city streets. But they’re also tailor-made for industrial facilities working behind the scenes to make our society go.

We talked with Steve Johnson, marketing manager for the Metalux industrial line at Eaton’s Lighting Division, to get his take on how industrial facilities can implement LED technology to boost quality and efficiency.

What are examples of industrial facilities choosing LEDs?

Industrial facilities consist of an extensive range of applications that require different lighting criteria depending on the demands of a particular space. These spaces need luminaires that deliver high lumen output with higher efficiencies and are constructed to withstand the demands of more complex environments. LED luminaires meet these standards by delivering higher quality light and improved aesthetics without the negative characteristics of traditional high-output fixtures.

  • Warehouses and distribution centers require luminaires that provide multiple distributions to evenly illuminate large open spaces for general use and to provide good vertical foot-candles when lighting aisles with high racking. LEDs are an efficient way to light these spaces with superior optical performance, flexible lumen outputs and improved controllability.
  • Manufacturing facilities require precise optical control for improved visibility and safety as well as minimized maintenance, which can be costly and intrusive. Manufacturing spaces also require luminaires with added durability to withstand more complex, harsh environments.
  • Food processing and cold storage facilities have spaces that must meet strict federal and state regulations. These products are usually required to deliver maximum light output via vapor-tight, wet-location luminaires. LEDs provide improved performance with minimal maintenance, which is ideal for these applications.

What are the main benefits gained by an industrial facility implementing LEDs?

  • Lower energy costs. LEDs equal lower energy consumption compared to alternatives like HIDs and fluorescents. Most industrial facilities are large spaces with higher ceilings, and previous technologies required high wattages to deliver the high lumen output needed to light these spaces. But today, highly efficient LED solutions can deliver the required light output using less than half the energy of traditional lighting.
  • Lower maintenance costs. Depending on the incumbent technology,LEDs can offer five times the life expectancy of traditional lighting along with improved lumen maintenance. This results in lower maintenance costs associated with relamping fixtures as well as a safer, more illuminated environment. 
  • Controllable lighting. This is becoming the standard for industrial spaces. Greater energy savings are achieved through occupancy and daylight dimming controls. Unlike HIDs and other technologies, LEDs are inherently compatible with controls, and controls equal smart energy solutions and lower energy bills.

Are there particular things factories, warehouses and other industrial facilities should consider before making the switch?

  • Check the form factor and lumen output of the current luminaires. In most cases, installing a replacement luminaire with similar mounting options will reduce install times and accelerate your return on investment. LEDs can provide the flexibility needed to pick the best luminaire for a given application.
  • Consider fewer lumens. LED luminaires tend to have improved optical performance when compared to fixtures with traditional technologies. In certain applications, these optical improvements allow the fixture to achieve the required light levels with fewer lumens than the existing fixture.
  • Know the regulations. Your local and state regulations may mandate energy savings along with the addition of lighting controls when relighting a space. In addition, many utilities offer incentives designed to offset the initial cost of relighting spaces. Search utility incentives by state.

What about new construction in the industrial sector? Are LEDs becoming a more common lighting solution here? 

Yes, LED lighting is quickly becoming the technology of choice for new construction. Greater energy efficiency and controllability, improved aesthetics and high quality of light make LEDs the ideal solution for most applications including industrial facility lighting.

What do you think will be the main factor fueling this trend moving forward? 

Rising energy costs and the need for smart solutions are the two primary drivers for the adoption of LEDs. Moving forward, I can’t think of many applications for which I’d recommend an alternative over LEDs. Government and utility regulations continue to push for more efficient, controllable solutions that significantly reduce energy consumption. In addition to reduced energy and maintenance costs, fixtures will have the ability to leverage the real estate of the luminaire to not only provide light output, but to also provide networking to access information for space utilization, environmental conditions and energy management.