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Paul James - Editorial comment

Issue 47 Feb / Mar 2009

So it looks like the proverbial really is hitting the fan. No sooner had my last editorial piece warned that manufacturers needed to adapt to survive the credit crunch, news filtered through that Fitzgerald had gone bump and then the economic climate turned even chillier than first thought post-Christmas.

Whilst news of Fitzgerald’s demise would not have surprised many in the industry, the parallels with the retail industry are there for all to see. Well known traditional brands in the UK like Woolworths, MFI, Land Of Leather and Wedgwood have all bitten the dust much to the chagrin of the Great British Public, but come on, did YOU ever shop there? These companies failed to adjust to new market conditions and have paid the price.

On the other side of the coin, some companies are trying to change, maybe to hard. Recently, a TV programme charted the progress of that British bastion of roadside cafes, Little Chef (again, despite the wistful nostalgia, WHO actually ate there?), after they drafted in the services of Big Chef Heston Blumenthal. The initial problems with the menu brought a wry smile to this editor - too expensive, too confusing, too... unnecessary. Ring any bells?

I speak of course of the LED specification industry and the raft of lighting manufacturers who are currently flooding the market with LED fixtures. I know I keep banging on about this but I’m not alone. Virtually every lighting designer I speak to is becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of ‘apples with apples’ analysis on the myriad of datasheets they get presented with by over eager reps in search of their next big sale. This is doing the industry no favours.

Two contributors to this edition of mondo*arc raise the same concerns. Firstly, Dr Geoff Archenhold calls for all LED luminaire manufacturers to plainly spell out operational figures on their datasheets allowing the industry to maintain a workable, professional standard. As an insight into what could happen with UK Government strategy in the future (after all he is a government adviser), Archenhold suggests a US Caliper-style programme that compares actual performance against datasheet stated figures.

Secondly, Jon Estell of Insta UK, itself a seller of LED products, has submitted a letter berating the lack of a class rating system for the quality of the electronics within LED fixtures in the UK. With some LED projects with a promised 50,000 hour lifetime now prematurely beginning to fail, Estell is worried that all LED fixture manufacturers will be tarred with the same brush. With differing requirements for different projects, a rating system would help the specifier choose the right product for the job.

We fully support both opinions and are sure that Dr. Geoff will continue to bang the drum in his column in this magazine. Transparent data for competitively priced LED products is surely the way forward. We need to know exactly what we are getting within the layers involved in the manufacture of an LED fixture. Just like Little Chef’s famous Olympic Breakfast. You know where you are with an Olympic Breakfast, eh? But even perceived perfection, no matter how believable, can be improved upon. The LED industry must try harder.


Editor: Paul James Editor: Paul James
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