PEW chatted to Mark Abbott, Managing Director of Ansell Lighting, about the company’s 30th anniversary and the future direction of the lighting sector.
- Ansell is celebrating its 30th year – how has the lighting industry changed in that time and what has the company done to adapt?
The lighting industry is almost unrecognisable from 30 years ago, with the advent and widespread adoption of LEDs, the introduction of smart lighting and the focus on energy efficiency. The industry has become much more reactive and the size of the product market has expanded – our catalogues in the early ‘90s featured about 150 products, now it is in excess of 3,000.
The use of LEDs in different products has also grown substantially in the 20 years since they were introduced – from expensive lamps to their application in fire-rated downlights, architecturally designed luminaires and in anti-glare products for workplace comfort.
It is the ability to adapt our products and services that has helped us to reach the 30 year milestone. We have internal and external product councils that consult with installers, electrical engineers, contractors and architects to ensure that we are always ahead of the game in terms of product development and service offerings. In recent years that has included a significant focus on the development of our smart lighting offering – OCTO – which enables us to offer more to our customers in terms of both energy efficiency and cost savings, something that has never been more important in the face of rising energy bills and growing environmental challenges.
- What do you believe will be the next significant growth area in the lighting sector?
Without doubt smart lighting is the biggest growth area for lighting across all sectors. Sales of smart home technology are increasing year on year and smart lighting is playing a significant part in that, but it is also set to have a big impact on commercial settings too, especially in post-pandemic office environments.
Wholesalers will play an important role in the growth of smart lighting, in terms of offering education and expertise to installers. As a manufacturer we offer a range of training and support materials to help communicate the benefits, and ease of installation of smart lighting.
OCTO, our connected lighting solution and product range now produces data, which is useful to the customer, allows us to make spaces work harder for them and also reinforces the benefits of spending more on the up-front investment in lighting – something which will be especially important as the commercial market for smart lighting grows.
Smart lighting is all about added convenience and efficiency and so the interoperability of the new solutions and products on the market – which allows them to be integrated with all eco systems such as Alexa, Hey Google and Siri – is also key for installers and end users. Moving forward we will be launching an asset management and reporting system that will allow building managers to monitor their energy performance data and audit trails which will further demonstrate the benefits of smart lighting systems.
- How have changing attitudes towards employee wellbeing and visual comfort impacted on the lighting being used in commercial buildings?
There were already signs of growth in this area pre-Covid but this seems to have accelerated more recently as the return to work continues. One of the many benefits of smart lighting is the ability for employers to allow employees to control their own lighting environment.
We had a good example of this recently in a Government building in Peterborough where outdated PL/CFL tile fittings had been replaced with our modern Endurance LED recessed panels. Some staff complained of eye strain and headaches due to the increased brightness so using our OCTO system we enabled individual control of each panel to better suit the time of day and personal requirements. It also saved on energy costs by using the time-based controls to deliver varied output throughout the day and ensuring lights were off out of hours.
- How easy is it to integrate connected or smart lighting into a property without an existing automation system?
It is really not as daunting as you may think and does not have to involve rewiring. Many smart lighting products now have the smart technology embedded in them, so it is quite straightforward to retrofit smart lighting by simply replacing old luminaires with enabled or smart products. The control element comes from the smart lighting system, which has its own interface using either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, without the need for a hub. Lights can then be controlled by an app on a smartphone, remote, motion sensors, existing wall switches or even voice control and integrates with most major connected ecosystems.
- What should wholesalers consider when selecting lighting products to stock?
Stocking a varied range of products is a great place to start. As a wholesaler you need to cover as many angles as possible, from fire-rated downlights and commercial products to architectural and residential luminaires. Plus, a selection that showcases all of the benefits of smart lighting, from smart lamps and complementary accessories such as plugs, remote controls and sensors to products that have smart technology embedded in them.
A key consideration should always be stock availability too. As a manufacturer if we can’t provide stock we are letting our customers down. We hold a huge amount of stock, with 99% availability and next day delivery so that you can offer the same to your customers.”
- What are Ansell’s plans for the future?
“It’s going to be an exciting time in the next few years as the industry continues to evolve – and we will evolve and grow with it. We have already made great strides in growing our export business which will continue and from a product perspective we will continue to innovate. It is estimated that LED saturation in the UK market will reach 96% in the next couple of years so we are looking to added value services associated with lighting.
For 2022, we intend to celebrate our 30th birthday throughout the year with events and launches – including 90 new products in our latest catalogue which is out now, supporting our charity Our Blue Light and a community campaign that will launch around the time of our official birthday in August aimed specifically at wholesalers and installers.
To learn more about Ansell Lighting click here