The cost of poor industrial lighting

Published:  03 September, 2015

Eriks, lighting, LEDs, Quick fixes
A positive attitude to maintaining industrial lighting — Adam Hicks.

Adam Hicks of Eriks looks how poor maintenance of industrial lighting and the choice of lamps is costing industry huge amounts of money.

An estimated 75% of UK industrial-lighting installations do not meet current industry design standards and could be costing the UK as much as £1.4 billion a year, according to research from Eriks UK. The current standards for the specification of industrial lighting, BS EN 12464-1 and 12464-2, determine the level of illumination required to safely and successfully undertake specific tasks within the workplace.

Despite it being compulsory for facilities managers to meet BS EN standards, many within the industry are failing to do so. However, the most prevalent cause of non-compliance is not poor-quality equipment — although this will of course affect system performance if used — but failing to maintain the system in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

We have found that there is a distinct lack of awareness among many maintenance professionals and facilities managers about the level of routine cleaning and maintenance required to not only comply with BS EN standards but also to maximise the overall efficiency of the lighting system.

Non-compliance starts when a lighting system continues to be used beyond the manufacturer’s specification. Most schemes are designed to comply with BS EN standards up to the point where bulk lamp change is required.

For example, if a manufacturer states lamps should be changed every 16 000 h, for a plant operating continuously that is roughly every two years. Beyond that point the scheme is non-compliant, providing insufficient light as well as having a major impact on energy consumption and, therefore, bills.

However, this is not always the case. The real problem is that the level of re-lamping, cleaning and maintenance required by manufacturers is just not occurring, often due to the common location of industrial lighting in areas that are difficult to access. It is therefore very rare that fittings are properly cleaned and maintained, so lamps are only changed once they stop working.

One of the most effective ways of extending the lifespan of an industrial-lighting system is to invest in modern lighting technologies, principally LEDs. The light output of an LED remains constant over a longer time compared to traditional lamps — up to 50 000 h, ensuring a longer period compliance.

Industrial lighting has evolved beyond recognition over the last hundred years. However, many of those responsible for running and maintaining the UK’s commercial properties have failed to understand the health and safety and cost implications of non-compliant systems. BS EN standards are there for a reason, yet this lack of awareness is costing the UK a vast sum of money — to the tune of £1.4 billion a year.

However, if LEDs — which can offer up to six years of compliance when running continuously and a less-intensive maintenance programme – are embraced on an industrial scale, the UK’s manufacturing base can recover a significant amount of wasted expenditure that can then be re-invested to further improve the running of each individual plant.

Adam Hicks is head of procurement with Eriks.

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