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Eight Lessons in Eight Years

September 3, 2019

Phoenix installed its first LED fixture on a ship-to-shore crane back in 2011. Since then, the lighting industry has progressed significantly, and LED lighting has fundamentally changed the way we illuminate terminals. Throughout this evolution, both the lighting and the terminal industries have learned a lot. Here are a few of the biggest highlights:

1.  All fixtures are not created equally

While the components in every LED fixture are generally the same, product differentiation comes from design and integration. LED lights should incorporate components that increase performance and have optimized brackets, lenses and optics -– all critical factors to creating the most reliable lights for port environments. Plus, special attention to the fixture’s construction and weight can mean a better EPA rating and easier installation.

2. New lighting technology is virtually maintenance free

LED has brought an entirely new mindset to ports when it comes to lighting their container yards. Maintaining yard lighting was once a full-time job. Manufacturers would sell robust service contracts with their fixtures because the traditional lamps and ballasts would need to be replaced so often. With a light source that now lasts many years, high mast light maintenance is a thing of the past. Lighting manufacturers are now challenged to set themselves apart through purpose-built construction and technological advances.

3.  The benefits of LED go far beyond energy savings

The improved efficiency and corresponding energy savings gain the most headlines for LED. However, no one sees a bigger benefit than the crane operator. The instant-on features along with shadow reduction and better illumination of operations has changed the game. Crane operators will forever benefit from improved visibility and increased safety.

4.  The lighting industry has joined the technology race

Industry authorities and manufacturers throughout the supply chain are putting more focus on research that will improve their lighting technology, therefore creating better optical control, less glare, color stability and lengthened product lives. An increasingly competitive playing field means that continuous improvement will always be the goal.

5.  Power quality is a new factor for consideration

Although the quality of the power supply was not a factor for traditional lights, it is critical to the performance of LED fixtures. Proactive conversations about harmonics and power variation at ports is crucial, as is understanding the installation environment. Terminals must understand the significant impact that power conditions have on LED technology before making a large investment.

6.  Better light is better. Period.

From container yards to machine houses, reach stackers to ship-to-shore cranes … no one would argue that LED lighting improves visibility. There are a variety of stakeholders who stand to benefit from an upgrade to LED technology. It is important that all are engaged in the decision making process and understand the advantages as a return on investment is calculated.

7. Less is more.

When the port industry adopted the LED revolution, many thought that this was the pinnacle of lighting efficiency. But we are quickly learning that there are even more opportunities to save. That’s where integrated control systems come in.

Most individuals in the terminal industry didn’t realize how much light was wasted until they were given the power to control it with timers, dimming and even occupancy sensors. A security camera can pick up a clear picture with only 10% of the light output from a high mast fixture. For areas without activity in a container yard, why use 100% of a fixture’s output when 10% is plenty?

8.  There are always more lessons to be learned

Market conditions and industry guidance seem to change every day. You can’t take your eye off the ball for a second – and we won’t!

What we’ve learned throughout our experience with LED has allowed Phoenix to deeply impact the market. The next eight years will bring even more lessons, and we can say for certain that those lessons will drive additional improvement and ultimately, even better solutions for ports and terminals worldwide.