The lighting fixtures market in the United States is in a pretty good wealth. It is witnessed by the turnover of the local leaders (+7% - 8% in 2014 for GE or LSI, double digit growth for Acuity Brands or Cree), it is shown by trade figures (+9,7% import in 2014, +12% from Europe), not to mention the number of new entries, acquisitions, and product news. LFI Light Fair International (www.lightfair.com) takes place every year in a different city. New York hosted the 2015 edition in May. 2016 edition is set for 26-28 April in San Diego. LFI is held in collaboration with the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES) and the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD). As usual, CSIL attended LFI this year (www.lighting.csilmilano.com).
Sparkling is the opposite of plain
With a market share in excess of 11%, Acuity Brands is market leader in the U.S. lighting fixtures market (overall and in most of the main business segments). Its LED share last year was 32% (a bit lower than other market leaders). In March 2015 Distech Controls Inc. has been acquired by Acuity Brands Inc for US$ 252 million. Retrofit projects are an important part of recent Acuity's activity, and therefore it is turning more attention towards the sector of automation in city management and "smart cities". Distech Controls provides building management technologies and services that optimize energy efficiency and comfort in buildings, reducing operating costs.
GE Consumer&Industrial intends to restructure its lighting business to become "more competitive and better positioned for global growth in the dramatically changing lighting industry". The restructuring proposal will impact plants in Mexico, Brazil and the U.S. and is a continuation of structural changes that have occurred over the last year, says the Louisville, KY-based company. The business is also focusing on new products and investing in new lighting technologies and R&D that will help its oldest business maintain its market and technology leadership, according to Jim Campbell, president & CEO of GE Consumer & Industrial.
GE Lighting is pushing its advanced solutions (Indoor and Outdoor) about Positioning Systems. Building on the interconnected nature of lighting systems, sensors and handheld devices, indoor location technology embedded inside GEˈs LED lighting fixtures will deliver high-value uses for retail, hospitality and commercial applications. For street and roadway lighting networks, GE’s LightGrid offers complete control that allow municipalities to monitor and program each individual fixture anytime, anywhere via the Web.
A second step of Philipsˈ new strategy for the lighting business has been signed during LFI NY. First step was the merge between Philips Lumileds and Philips Automotive lighting business. Second step was in April 2015, when OLEDWorks LLC announced a complex business agreement with Royal Philips that will chart the future course for the OLED sector of the Philips Lighting business. Philips will establish a new legal entity to which OLED intellectual property (IP) and the Philips Aachen, Germany OLED manufacturing facility will be transferred, and OLEDWorks will acquire all shares in the new entity. OLEDWorks will also gain a license to use the Philips brand in selling OLED panels from the entity and Philips Lighting will continue to distribute the OLED panels that result from the venture. OLEDWorks will get a production facility that Philips has invested in significantly (about US$50.5 million at the time) in the Aachen manufacturing facility. OLEDWorks claims to be leader in US-based manufacturing of OLED panels and received significant R&D grants from the US Department of Energy. Third step will be putting the lighting business in a separate company.
LED lighting developer Lumenpulse acquired outdoor luminaire provider SDL Lighting in March 2015 for a total cash of US$3.2 million. SDL is a privately owned company, that started as a custom manufacturer in Québec City, Canada.
In February 2015 Lumenpulse acquired also Ariane Controls Inc., not to mention the 2014 acquisition of Projection Lighting Limited (ˈProjectionˈ), a UK-based manufacturer of LED solutions for retail, display and architectural applications.
Eglo lighting has experienced record growth in 2014: +14% to Eur 381.6 million. The goal for 2015 is Eur 400 million. Eur 17.6 million have been budgeted for investment in 2015. America (both North and South) is a relevant market for the European leader of consumer luminaires and nowadays a new assembly plant is working in Mexico.
Exciting new products
The lighting control business is relevant for the United States. Philips Starsense promises “from simple solutions to city solutions”. Wired and wireless controls are mainly for the office applications. “Connected luminaires can collect and share data to enhance decision making, streamline operations and create more satisfying experiences for occupants and managers of space”. Also to be reminded the intelliHue power core, by Philips Color Kinetics.
USAI is a “personalized lighting” specialists in colour management (consistency) temperature, colour curve dimming, warm glow dimming with high quality and innovative small scale, point source lighting fixtures. Now working on NanoLumen technology (flexible lighting system designed around ceramic metal halide) and BeveLED (architectural grade LED recessed downlight, adjustable, now also in “mini” version), and wall wash products. Warm Glow dimming provides warmth and glow once only possible only in dimmed incandescence sources. Color Curve dimming provides control over LED temperature from cool to warm within a range of 3500K to 2200K. Color Select allow downlights users to adjust color temperature from 6000K down to 2200K while independently adjusting intensity to achieve ultimate control over the quality of light in a space with a single fixture type.
Acuity is investing in OLED much more than its main competitors. OLED panels are available with a variety of correlated color temperatures (CCT) including 3000K, 3500K and 4000K, and a color-rendering index (CRI) of 85-90 (up to a 13% improvement in color rendering from the previous generation of OLED panels). The latest generation of OLED panels has high R9 values (ability of an LED source to render strong and vibrant red tones) in any of the three available CCTs. The main application that is studied for OLEDs in Acuity is about office spaces.