From health and safety to functionality and cost-efficiency, businesses have much to consider when upgrading the lighting in their industrial plants. Here, we’ll look at the current best practice in industrial lighting in the hope that it provides the guidance you need to take the next steps.

1.     Safety compliance comes first

No two industrial plants are the same, so the starting point for any lighting design is to look at the lighting needs of the plant and, specifically, what regulations or standards it needs to comply with. These, of course, can be dependent on many things, such as the Health and Safety at Work Act, agreements with trade unions and specific regulations that apply to the work being carried out and the environment in which it takes place.

No matter what else you need to achieve with your lighting, compliance has to come first. Working with a lighting contractor that has wide experience across a range of industrial sectors can be of enormous importance in ensuring you get this critical element right. For example, they can help you install emergency lighting, eradicate light flickering and strobing, provide the right lighting environment for areas where flammable or combustible materials are stored or provide sealed lighting units with smooth surfaces for use in environments for the processing of food or pharmaceuticals. Using the right type of lighting can also improve the visibility of contrasting colours, essential to ensure health and safety warnings can be seen by all.

2.     Visibility and performance

For lighting to be fit for purpose, it has to provide the levels of visibility employees need to carry out their work safely and effectively. For best practice, it also needs to help employees perform their work more productively. The job of new lighting is to improve on the old system, not simply to replace it. This means providing new lighting that is of the right quality and in the right quantities to enhance performance. For example, a company might require light that helps employees monitor the depth, texture and shape of materials to ensure consistent quality on the production line. Doing so could radically reduce the numbers of faulty products that make their way to the final customer and need replacing.

Things to consider include the type of light required (e.g. flat, diffused or uniform) colour rendering, lighting levels and the creation of lighting zones. To do this, designers need to ensure that the right types of lamps and mountings are used, are located in the most appropriate places and in sufficient quantities. 

3.     Cost-efficiency

Generally, the cost of industrial lighting breaks down as follows: energy costs 78%, maintenance costs 8% bulb replacement 4%. Although this will vary from company to company, any lighting design should endeavour to reduce costs and must do so without impacting quality. Cost, obviously, needs to factor in both the initial investment in the new system and the operating costs over time. LED luminaires, for example, might not be as cheap to purchase as a fluorescent lamp, but over their life cycle, they last longer, require less maintenance and are far cheaper to run, making them the cheapest option over the long term.     

With LED systems, the savings can be even greater. Emergency lighting, for example, needs to be tested regularly in industrial environments, a long and arduous task for staff who, with traditional lighting, have to test each individual lamp. LED emergency lighting systems, on the other hand, can come with an in-built self-testing capacity that vastly reduces maintenance time and improves safety by reporting faults directly to a centralised system before they have been visually inspected.

LEDs also reduce power consumption as they are designed to turn more of the energy they use into light than heat. This energy efficiency can cut the cost of energy they use compared to other luminaire types by as much as 80%. At the same time, the use of control systems with in-built occupancy and daylight sensors means LEDs can automatically be turned off in unoccupied rooms or have their brightness adjusted depending on the level of natural daylight.

4.     Design that fits the building

Good industrial lighting will work with the building rather than cause problems when working against it. For example, a lighting system might require high mounting locations to be effective but as a result, also need the installation of gangways to make maintenance safe and accessible. It may need to be installed in a way that overcomes obstructions from plant machinery or which doesn’t disrupt operations. Lighting design may also incorporate the use of windows to bring in natural daylight, together with intelligent blinds that filter out glare and heat.

5.     The right contractor

The specialised nature of design and installation needed to provide the lighting required in the industrial sector requires an electrical contractor with experience and expertise in both lighting design and installation. The two go hand in hand: the design has to take into consideration the practicalities of the installation work needed at the plant when looking to achieve its goals. For this reason, companies are best served by working with a contractor, like Jumba Enineering Services Limited, that has the skills and experience to carry out industrial-scale lighting and electrical installation work effectively.

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