Shedding LED light on industry



Dan Doxsee, chief commercial officer, Dialight, Farmingdale, New Jersey, United States of America


Reduced maintenance and energy needs are just two of the key benefits that the use of light-emitting diode (LED) lighting can bring to ports. I read recently that most industry demands the latest technology, as long as it’s already been proven over 15 years. Current LED technology is the result of constant evolution over many years, so it should have all the pedigree it needs for the port industry.

LED lighting is beginning to gain acceptance across a wide range of industrial users for its ability to drastically cut energy use when compared to traditional lighting technologies like high pressure sodium (HPS) or metal halide. But rather than its ability to reduce energy needs typically by 70 percent, it is the LED’s ability to eliminate maintenance that gives it the real advantage in the world of heavy industry.

In many cases industrial LED lighting can last over 100,000 operating hours, far exceeding the typical lifespan of industrial solutions such as HPS, metal halide and fluorescents (see Figure 1). This long lifespan can deliver up to a full decade of high performance, maintenance-free lighting that not only eliminates the time, cost and safety risk of routine lighting maintenance, but also significantly reducesenergy consumption and cost. As a result LED fittings can deliver a return on investment in less than two years, whilst continuing to deliver ongoing bottom-line savings for many years to come.

Facing environmental challenges

Before investing in new lighting for indoor or outdoor applications, a port operator needs to be convinced that the technology can cope with aggressive environments. Outdoors it is a world of sand, salt, sea water, water spray, wind and frost, but indoors it is mainly dust that causes problems. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that you can trial a unit for free for a reasonable period to make sure it can take the punishment. Here is how it paid off for the Port of Leith.

Most ports will have experience of the type of lighting challenge faced by Forth Ports at Leith. Even in daylight in its shed three bulk store, the 400W SON high bays were struggling to provide adequate illumination. The heat they generated was burning cargo dust onto the polycarbonate lenses and greatly impairing their performance, so they had to be constantly replaced, but that could only be carried out when the shed became empty of grain or feed, which could mean a wait of anything from a few days to a year. Clearly, when there is product stored, the areas above cannot be accessed for maintenance, so the replacement had to have fittings that require limited maintenance and have a long lifespan. To make it worse, the inefficient SONs were actually drawing around 440W each.

Even more reasons to change

In the nearby engineering workshop the 12 400W HPS high bays were not giving the required light, were slow to re-strike and therefore were not being switched off. The sodium lights gave off a yellow hue, which made it difficult to undertake fine work, particularly on electrics, during the night shift, as well as being a tiring light to work under. They also had to be replaced regularly, requiring the floor to be cleared of plant so that a scissor lift could be used to access the fittings.

Replacing similar lamps in the adjacent cruise ship terminal involved a team of three men, as the scissor lift had to be taken there via a public highway with a two-vehicle escort, then dismantled to get it through the door and re-assembled inside the building. This procedure had to be managed to accommodate cruise ship timetables and staff scheduling, so failed lights could end up waiting for a while to be replaced.

Often facility managers will demand a full bulb and ballast change as routine maintenance to reduce the inherent risk of opening a fitting with dust present resulting in added cost for the maintenance beyond just the bulb replacement. Regular servicing of the fittings also leads to moisture intrusion and deterioration of gaskets and other hardware. Traditional fittings are also typically very heavy and cumbersome (see Figure 3), often requiring several workers to handle safely during installation, all at added cost and risk. In addition disposal of conventional fittings often requires specialised handling and recycling due to the hazardous materials (phosphors and mercury) that they contain.

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