The Lighting Outlook for 2021 – featured in Lighting in Design (Crown Publications)

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With 2020 throwing curveballs at us from all directions, Lighting in Design took the opportunity to see what players in the South African lighting industry predict for the forthcoming 12 months.

Wimpie Ludwick, GM, BEKA Schréder: Being part of the lighting industry has always been a privilege. It is seen as a niché market within the greater engineering field and to be more specific, the electrical engineering field. Our involvement within the mentioned sector of the industry is therefore dependent on the total state of the economies and activities of South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa.

BEKA Schréder has been one of the major players in the outdoor lighting market for 42 years. We have seen many changes in the economic and political space during this time.

The past 10 years have seen a major change in the lighting industry with the arrival of new technologies such as LED, optic design, different colour options, state-of-the art-controls and communication devices. This enables customers to design specifically for their needs with the systems and controls in place to monitor or manage the installation.

Being a local manufacturer with innovation, design, manufacture, marketing, distribution and support, we are faced with our own challenges. We are all aware that the economy is under pressure but many other factors such as costs, efficiency and the exchange rates have a major impact on a manufacturer in Africa. Local manufacturers constantly compete with imported products while supporting local employment and B-BBEE initiatives. We therefore aim to always provide products designed to the highest standards, suitable for our harsh climatic conditions without compromising quality. Customers have the peace of mind that a local company will support and guarantee their products for many years with the backup and support required.

The last two years have realised a negative trend within our sector to initiate and implement new projects. It has unfortunately been challenging and many leaders of organisations have needed to think out of the box to drive growth, or even survive, in these economic conditions.

2020 did not start on a high and everything cannot be blamed on COVID-19. If you were under pressure before the pandemic, things would have certainly gone downwards from March. I feel this is a survival year for many lighting companies, but it is also a year where we could press the reset button and re-evaluate our position.

During a time like this it is important to focus, invest and continue making strategic decisions and plans to implement in the coming two to three years. Our people are our biggest asset, so their well-being is of the greatest importance. Any salary cuts or retrenchments should be avoided and only seen as a last resort. We were and remain very fortunate to be able to support our staff fully without any people losing their jobs.

2021 is expected to be a recovery year with a slow start in the first half. The way you prepare your company and your people for the future will make all the difference. Yes, savings plans and cash management is of the utmost importance, but it remains essential to maintain a growth orientation and take the time to continue implementing strategies and innovation of new products, in order to still offer the latest technologies at market related prices during uncertain times into the future. We will, however, be out there leading the way and trying our best.

Philip Hammond, Director, BHA Lighting Design & Consulting/BHA School of Lighting: Hopefully, architects, consulting electrical engineers, quantity surveyors and lighting designers will appreciate the need to bring South Africa into the world of modern, advanced lighting in all applications and projects. The business case to utilise the latest lighting and associated technologies makes it possible to deliver amazing savings, energy efficiency and eye watering Returns on Investment.

Property owners, developers and tenants simply have no idea about what lighting, control and other incorporated technologies they could embrace, which would not only turn heads, but also increase footfall, satisfaction and, in the case of shopping precincts, could improve the customer experience.

However, it is also extremely important to consider owners of office accommodation, particularly in this time of COVID-19 and most likely for a long time to come. I have written extensively how lighting design is adapting and will still continue have to adapt to accommodate the new normal in terms of personal safe space at each workstation, traffic flow, social distancing and the incorporation of UV-C in luminaires for use via controls to disinfect office space and surfaces after-hours when it is safe to use the UV-C.

Lighting systems can provide vital information to operators of the facilities on breaches of COVID protocols, office usage, lighting operating costs, and additional information such as whether it is necessary to clean spaces based on last utilisation since last cleaning, thereby reducing cleaning costs. Lighting design to illuminate the personal workspace in offices will have to be more adaptive. We have already completed lighting projects where individual desk lights have been installed. These have been extremely well received by the users. Ambient lighting levels are lower, providing a world class lighting design where users enjoy the best working environment with the best possible visual comfort.

Lighting designs will be increasingly required to comply with the International Green Building Council and the International WELL Building Institute requirements. This will mean that greater attention will be needed to be given to completing Daylight Autonomy (DA), Continuous Daylight Autonomy (cDA), Spatial Daylight Autonomy (sDA) and Annual Daylight Exposure (ADE) calculations and simulations to qualify for the highest credits and scores. This means that all lighting designs should include these calculations routinely for every project.

Now, in South Africa, we are fortunate to be able to work with one South African manufacturer namely, Regent Lighting Solutions. They are the only lighting product supplier that has Power over Ethernet (PoE) luminaires, Human Centric Lighting luminaires (HCL) and a very wide range of Casambi and Bluetooth Mesh compatible lighting products. It is also possible to incorporate Visible Light Communication (VLC) and Indoor Positioning Systems (IPS) into all the products.

Why is this so important? Well, the modern office must be the most connected working space. VLC is essential. For that to be optimally implemented, PoE will provide the backbone. For those who do not know what I keep referring to, light fittings are powered via the data network using low voltage, safe dc power over data cables. This increases the value of the lettable space in A grade, AA grade and AAA grade offices. It is also important in this time of working from home (WFH) when employees will book a working space from time to time when it is essential to meet or visit an office. Using this technology, they will have connectivity throughout the office without the need for physical access points.

It is time that business property owners, developers and tenants demand the most advanced, most cost-effective technology to run their businesses successfully in the new normal of 2021. The main reason there has been no adoption of this amazing technology is simply because professionals in the built industry and the lighting industry at large do not know how to use the technologies.

Marc Machtelinkx, European Light & Design Centre: All industries, so also the lighting industry, went through a rough 2020. We have seen steady recovery of the building industry and we expect the same of the lighting industry. We have also noticed that because of lockdown and the travel ban, people are investing more in the upgrade of their homes and (local) holiday homes, which has benefitted us.

All the lighting fairs were cancelled this year because of COVID-19, so it is difficult to predict what the design trends will be, but our suppliers, who are all market leaders in their field, have shown us that there will be more use of colours in the designs, not only the black and white brass, but we have seen the use of bright greens and orange.

LED technology has taken a big step forward. The quality of COB LED has improved and is used in most of our imports, and not only in downlights or spotlights but also in decorative fittings.

Eli Kalmi, CEO, K. Light: We at K. Light have found our planning for 2021 rather difficult and challenging due to the travel restrictions and many of the international lighting shows being cancelled as a result of COVID-19.

The lighting factories overseas are not designing and producing many new items as there is not a large demand at the moment. I feel LED technology will remain very dominant but with not too many new designs or ideas. Without vaccines for the virus, business will remain very challenging.



BHA Lighting Design & Consulting:

European Light & Design Centre:

K. Light:


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