For factory managers, LEDs are often the hot ticket item when it comes to lighting retrofits. But in reality, the underplayed benefits of occupancy and daylight sensors merit equal billing.
Every factory manager knows the conundrum; balancing the best levels of health, safety and quality control with cost, maintenance and day to day operations. Reducing carbon emissions and energy use is another concern.
All these elements come to bear on issues of light in factories. Managers want more reliable, energy efficient light to reduce the costs and maintenance burden associated with legacy systems. But, most people controlling lighting specification see only one path to improvement.
Generally, when factory managers look at retrofitting or upgrading lighting, they start with the switch to LEDs. But in cases where businesses are reluctant to invest in a complete lighting upgrade, better control of the existing lighting might be a sensible first step.
Embarking on a ‘stepped’ upgrade can start delivering benefits immediately, rather than waiting forever for the funds to become available for a full LED retrofit.
Lighting sensors; the benefits of graduated lighting upgrades
Occupancy and daylight sensor controls do a simple job. By detecting whether buildings are occupied, and the amount of daylight, they can reduce and control how much artificial light is provided.
By updating your sensors first, you can immediately begin to deliver cash savings. The best savings from occupancy and daylight sensors will come in the summer due to the amount of daylight present while factories are occupied. Obviously this is reduced in winter but nevertheless, you could assume a potential energy saving of up to 40%.
Of course, there are health, safety and quality control issues to watch; therefore occupancy and daylight sensor schemes implemented need to be mindful not to reduce lighting levels beyond what’s safe and essential for work to continue. You should programme in safe limits on the tolerance control levels for light.
Sensors also prolong the life of your existing lamps, reducing the maintenance burden, simply by turning them down, or even off when applicable.
What about other concerns?
For factories considering occupancy sensors, it’s vital that suppliers ensure they don’t turn off when people are still working inside.
At Greenlite, we have such sensors in our own warehouse. There are various options to set these up; ours are in basic occupancy mode so the luminaire will stay active for two minutes after it last detects someone in the area if there isn’t enough daylight to provide sufficient light.
This can be changed to anything from five seconds up to four hours. There is also an optional flash warning when the luminaire is about to switch. This is useful if occupants don’t move around a lot, although there are also four levels of sensitivity which can be increased.
For managers with specific health and safety concerns, daylight dimming alone may be a ‘safer’ energy saving option than occupancy sensors which turn the lighting off completely.
When calibrating the sensor, you can set the exact lux requirements so that the luminaire switches on when it falls below this value. These work with both dimming and on/off luminaires and can be adjusted to suit the customer.
As an example we had a customer who required their warehouse to be brighter as it was originally set to the recommended 100 lux. These were reprogrammed to 300 lux in a 30 minute walk around the warehouse.
What happens next?
The savings achieved from implementing control systems can then be used to fund a full LED upgrade.
At Greenlite we love this approach. Often, we talk with people keen to upgrade lights overall, but without the upfront cash. By implementing control systems, you start saving money, and you can then make the full switch to controlled LEDs using that cash.
At this point, your system will be markedly cheaper than before. Lighting will be kinder on the eyes and the environment. Your factory will be modern, sophisticated and safe. We think that’s a compelling reason to act.