What are the opportunities for the UK lighting industry? Despite the low economic growth forecast for the UK over the next few years I believe there are many opportunities for the industry as a whole to grow and prosper based on providing real added- value and plenty of service for clients and customers.
My optimism is based on four factors. Firstly, the powerful financial case that lighting is able to offer to clients through upgrading their lighting to modern energy-efficient solutions using energy efficient products combined with intelligent controls/systems.
Secondly, exciting product technologies such as LEDs and OLEDs and electronic control systems that enable lighting to be managed and manipulated to put the right light in the right place at the right time.
Thirdly, a strong lighting design industry based in the UK, which stimulates new ideas and sets standards globally. Being close to and influenced by this industry has to be good for the whole UK lighting industry.
Finally, current sterling exchange rates are making the UK manufacturing base for lighting very competitive on a global basis.
The challenge is converting these opportunities and this optimism into reality. I believe building awareness, training and educating all those involved in supplying, installing and using lighting and promoting and delivering good-quality products and services that ensure customer satisfaction, are the keys.
Energy efficiency and economic payback plus the new technologies provide us with two excellent platforms on which to build other opportunities. They stimulate interest from clients in the supply chain and end-user customers either because of the financial benefits to the bottom line and the contribution to companies’ environmental challenges of reducing their CO2 emissions, or because of the new and exciting lighting possibilities that the new technologies allow.
We have the technologies, products and services to deliver significant energy savings without compromising lighting quality, and this will only continue to improve. So we need to promote this to regulators, customers and clients, and that is why initiatives such as the LuxLive commercial lighting event are so important. This event is a joint venture between the LIF and Lux that will take place in November, and is one example of how the industry can come together to create an event that will attract many thousands of potential clients and customers to hear the industry’s arguments and to see its products.
This in turn highlights the need to ensure that good-quality design and good-quality products are used to deliver effective lighting solutions and to ensure that the energy savings are delivered. In my Lux column last month I highlighted the importance of compliance to regulations and standards to ensure that users enjoy performance from quality products rather than becoming disillusioned as a result of non-compliant products and services. This is another area that the LIF is active in promoting, both in terms of awareness to the market and with the government about effective enforcement of regulations.
The UK lighting manufacturing industry also has an excellent opportunity to expand, given the competitive sterling exchange rate. The UK lighting industry as a whole is strong internationally and the lighting manufacturing industry should build on that strength with high-quality products that are fully compliant with international standards. Through trade associations such as the LIF, we can promote to the UK government the potential of our industry to expand UK manufacturing on the basis of exports and seek government support in achieving that goal.
Am I being too optimistic? I don’t think so. The opportunities are there but within our strongly competitive industry there is scope for collective approaches through organisations such as the LIF to improve conditions for the industry as a whole.
‘We have the technologies, products and services to deliver significant energy savings without compromising lighting quality’