INTERVIEWS

General manager, indoor, design & application, GE Lighting

Everyone asks me why I left for GE after running my own company
In fact, it’s the question I get asked all the time. The answer is surprisingly simple. I had been a long- time admirer or GE’s lamps and the platforms the company was creating for LEDS, like the recent launch of Infusion. When I first discovered there was an opportunity to design fittings and solutions around that technology it was just something I really wanted to do. LAPD has my DNA in it and I wish the company all the best going forward but joining GE Lighting was the first selfish decision I had made in 11 years.

I hope to open new doors and create new opportunities
I have 21 years as a product designer and the last 11 years have been spent with end-users and I believe that I will be able to bring both product and specification experience to my role. Because of my contacts I also believe that I will be able to open new doors for GE and create new opportunities for the company.

My first weeks have been a schizophrenic experience
Starting at GE, I have found myself both an employee among thousands and the first in a team being built to capitalise on offering lighting solutions to customers, so it has been something of a schizophrenic existence. That team is now coming together and there is a strong will within the company to help. I think there is a recognition that the future cannot be about only lamp manufacture because eventually, at some point down the line, there will no longer be a business there. Of course there is more development to come from T5, CMH and so on but we are setting out at a point where LEDs have become a credible source and there are huge upscaling opportunities.

LEDs are not the answer to everything
There is a misconception that LEDs can do everything but that is not the case, especially in retail. As we stand today LEDs remain hard-pushed to compete with CMH for display lighting and T5 for ambient illumination but that balance is changing rapidly and some of the technology we are working on right now will give these other sources a real run for their money. Chip cost is the big challenge. I have no doubt bringing prices down is achievable, although I don’t know how quickly, and with it a lot of barriers will come down.

There is still more mileage to be had from other lighting technologies
Although the weight of R&D money is being channelled towards LEDs, innovation opportunities are certainly not the sole prerogative of LEDs. Development improvements still lie in energy efficiency, efficacy and lumens per Watt, and even for greater cost efficiencies.

To work, it has to be a holistic approach
There are still clients who don’t want to choose LED solutions, either because of the cost or because they had their fingers burnt previously by cheap imports. Our job is to provide the solutions that clients want so we will be carrying out some product reversals, converting luminaires designed for LEDs into fixtures suitable for CMH and even tungsten halogen by using the same source components and common parts. It has to be a holistic approach for those not quite ready to choose LEDs.

We want to provide everything for retailers, not just lamps and fittings
Our approach is not going to be about simply a lamp and luminaire. We also want to provide customers with the control architecture, the building management system and the energy consumption strategy.

The big challenge is to maintain the wow factor but reduce energy consumption
The only way we are going to do that is to reduce loadings and light levels which means lower ambient, punched through by LEDs. But it is a case of getting retailers on board – we still see Store A keeping its light levels up because of Store B next door. We need enough retailers to be convinced to start changing that model and that will help LEDs as well, because we will only need two times ambient on the vertical surfaces and we can achieve 50 per cent energy consumption reductions for them.

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