By now we’ve covered quite a few businesses in our lighting application series, and many of those posts have revolved around how to use lighting to draw in people and create a positive customer experience. Today’s topic, lighting for industrial spaces, is a little different, since, for the most part, the lighting in these applications is used strictly for practical purposes (not necessarily to impress customers). Still, that doesn’t mean you should consider the illumination in your industrial spaces as less important than lighting in other businesses. In fact, utilizing smart industrial lighting can have a huge impact on your business’ energy efficiency, productivity, and safety — all of which can save you money and boost your bottom line.
Industrial lighting is generally used in warehouses, factories, large hangars, storage facilities, manufacturing plants, and similar places where ceilings are often 20-feet high or more. With such a large area to illuminate, lighting costs are notoriously high in these applications. But, they don’t have to be. By switching to energy efficient industrial lights and controls, you can shave 40%-70% or more off your lighting energy use, without sacrificing quality.
Some ways to boost efficiency are:
- Switch to LEDs (the most efficient bulbs on the market)
- Install programmable lighting that’s capable of dimming in response to daylight
- Use motion detectors which turn off lights when room is empty
- Use targeted lights instead of all-over illumination
Besides saving money, energy efficient industrial lighting has other benefits, including:
- Is better for the environment
- Conforms to energy-consumption legislation
- Improves your ‘green credentials’ (impresses consumers and other businesses)
- Is a major step towards getting a green building certification
When upgrading luminaires in warehouse-like spaces, it’s imperative to strike a balance between saving energy while still maintaining adequate lighting. Modern bulbs, like LEDs, are often the ideal choice in such situations, because they provide optimal output with the least amount of energy demands. Even so, it’s always smart to get a lighting analysis from a professional to find out what will work best in your environment.
When it comes to worker productivity, you might be surprised by the difference lighting can make. In fact, over the past 20 years or so, medical science has repeatedly shown that optimal illumination:
- Increases visual comfort in workers
- Heightens health and well-being of workforce
- Speeds up tasks
- Reduces failure rates
- Lowers absenteeism
In contrast, poor lighting can cause eyestrain and fatigue among workers and creates a general malaise that contributes to less output and costly sick days. In short, by not providing ideal lighting, you’re most certainly lowering production. Not to mention, it’s always important to give employees the best possible working environment.
Some ways to improve lighting for industrial workers:
- Increase brightness (warehouses are often too dim)
- Utilize daylight if available
- Use natural-looking light
- Install task lighting in areas with lower ceilings and on assembly lines
- Allow employees to adjust light as needed
The final main characteristic of an intelligent industrial lighting solution is it promotes safety. Industrial spaces are home to heavy equipment, machinery, storage racks, and other potentially hazardous things, which make it especially critical that staff have adequate light levels to safely navigate the room and equipment.
Also, depending on the type of luminaires you’re using, if a bulb were to break you could risk contamination from glass, mercury, and other dangerous chemicals. This could be a disastrous situation in food or medical industries where sanitation is paramount. To avoid such a scenario, you can switch to durable, chemical-free lamps (like LEDs) or enclose bulbs in a protective casing. There are also waterproof and temperature-hardy bulbs, which work particularly well in refrigerator and freezer applications.
Currently, LEDs are among the safest lighting options because they:
- Don’t contain mercury or other harmful substances
- Have no loss of performance in temperature extremes
- Provide bright light (pinpointed or ambient)
- Have long lives and rarely need replacing (workers spend less time on high ladders or lifts changing bulbs)
In addition to the above points, you’ll also want to think about the layout and number of lights to use. For instance would you prefer to have point source light (illumination only where you need it) and consequently more shadows or would you rather have linear installations with all-over light? Such a decision could come down to balancing efficiency with safety or productivity. Again, the advice of a lighting professional can help you make the ideal choice. Also, take the time to compare things like color temperature and rendering, dimming capabilities, and lumen depreciation — not all bulbs are created equal in these categories, so make to know how your money’s being spent.
Ultimately, intelligent industrial lighting is about so much more than illuminating a space. It should enhance the working environment, improve morale, and simultaneously make the business more sustainable. When this happens, industries can achieve the productivity and money-savings they desire while being ethical to both employees and the environment.