If you are in charge of your lighting program, it’s definitely a new game in town. Some of your former concerns up until now may have been:
- -What is the best price for my T8, T5, or even T12 lamps?
- -Should I use 3500 or 4100 K color?
- -What halogen flood will give me the best accent lighting?
- -When can I receive my order?
Like the popular 60’s song “Where have all the flowers gone?”, that old tune can be updated to say, “Where have all the Light Bulbs gone?”. Many lamps are going away or will be gone in the not too distant future. Your ceiling may be left with some soon to be dinosaurs or a mismatch of different types. Do you know lamps are being cut from the lines of the major lamp manufacturers every day? Fair to say, the lamp lines of GE, Sylvania, Philips, and others have been shrunk down by at least 35%. Lamps are being delisted every few months due to legislation, falling demand, and because LED products are taking their place. The former questions, which are driven more by transactional and commodity-oriented sourcing issues like price and delivery, are out the window. A new thought process is necessary for end users to make smart decisions to best manage your lighting and have a smooth transition.
Former Major Players all in midst of change and sometimes chaos
The lighting and lamp industry is in the middle of a market disruption and transformation to digital or solid-state lighting LED lighting. Nearly all major lamp manufacturers are in some type of transformation during these times. GE, now called Current, has segmented their operation to carve out LED as a separate unit. Just this week, GE has found a new buyer for some International Lighting segments; more news to come on North America. They have recently decided to exit the lighting business. Sylvania is now LEDvance and was also recently acquired by a Chinese trio including MLS Co., the parent company of Atlanta based Forest Lighting. Philips Lighting has been shedding part of its lighting business as well and will also be getting out of the lamp business. They are supposedly announcing a new name change in March of this year where the focus will be on connected lighting. Exactly how the Big 3 will stay in lighting and which partner they will walk with remains to be seen; however the point is all of them are reinventing themselves and their lines. Surely, these 3 great brands will continue as they pass the torch to new owners/partners; however, their focus and products will be very different from their past. I read about a different plant closing every month. Continued attrition of standard lamps is at least 10% per year. The bottom line is standard lamps as we know them are dead, the manufacturers can’t get out of the legacy business fast enough. The time has come to look at what is in your ceiling and plan for a smooth change. LED is and has been the new game in town and will continue to take hold each year.
The 3 Common Positions USA Manufactures are taking:
The decisions of how to play in this disruptive market of changing times are certainly not easy.
Here are the most common positions legacy lamp manufacturers are talking; It is one of these 3 or a mix of them based on product line:
- Get out of dodge: They can’t stop making the old-style lamps fast enough. They are stuck with old huge machines and a technology no one wants. They are either getting out of the business, selling their companies, or splitting their companies into segments.
- Last Man standing: They put a lot of money into this technology; They were leaders in this segment and built it up and they do not want to give it up. An example is TCP and compact fluorescents lamps; they had a strong focus and were successful here and they don’t intend to walk away. They have studied and forecasted the demand for the style of lamps they make and like General Custer fighting until the end, they plan on being there until the lamp demand for CFL’s dwindles very low. They will fulfill customer needs on this for as long as it makes economic sense.
- All Aboard the LED Train: Whether they are leaving or staying in the lamp business, all the companies are moving into LED and quickly. All the major players have growing LED lamp lines; the problem is there are many niche and or new players in those same sockets. One thing is certain, the older technology is eroding swiftly: LED, lighting controls, and connected lighting are the future which means now is the time to plan or complete your move to the new products.
Lighting Supply Programs Then and Now
I have spent many years in lighting and in creating/managing National Account lamp supply programs for many large end users. I was fortunate enough to work with many large national accounts such as Burlington, Ann Taylor, Big Lots, and many others where we set up some of the finest lighting supply programs anywhere. I like to think I have been involved in energy saving lighting products long before it was cool and way before LED. In some ways, it is hard to accept and see the changes, struggles, and evolution of the industry as I knew it. On the other hand, it is progress and the benefits of the new technology far outweigh any of the cost or other issues. Any way you evaluate your options, LED is the better way to go and the faster you do it the better off you will be and for many reasons. In the past, my goals were to provide customers with the best lighting supply programs, now my goal is to provide the best transitioning lighting supply program, while at the same time, working with them on either gradual or full turnkey upgrades to advance them to LED lighting.
So, here are the questions you need to be concerned about now:
- How do I start or continue making the smart transition to LED?
- How do I choose the best products for my applications?
- How and where is the best place to source them?
- How long will the old products be around?
- How do I fill in the holes with current products I use that are now obsolete?
This is where it gets interesting and will make the difference between having an appealing or shabby looking lighting system. You will need to pay attention to what you are using and will be using as well as stay aware of what is biting the dust and when. You will need to know your best options and best ways to proceed. You will need to know if you will do this in a full sweep turnkey rollout or do it on a gradual basis.
You will need to look at colors, form factors, sizes, fixture/dimming compatibility, as well as the quality of manufacturers. All the above is not really easy to do well without missteps. There a lot of false promises, low-end imports, and a large number of companies you surely want to avoid.
Are you on the right path for this change?
Think about all the above questions. Formulate or update your plan to stay on track. Resolve how you will continue to be able to purchase what you need and get a plan to start upgrading. This is not something you should be afraid of; this is progress and the end result will be an improved lighting environment, substantial energy savings, maybe even rebates to sweeten the deal. Your goal is to get out the lighting supply business and into a digital lighting system. You will not need to stockpile lamps anymore but you should do this the right way. I do recommend you work with a professional and ask these questions of whomever you partner with:
- Do they understand my legacy lighting and what it was designed to do?
- Can they supply existing lighting while I make the changes?
- Can they guide me to best new LED products?
- Are they brand neutral with a wide variety of choices so I can best the products for my application?
- Can they do turnkey and make it a seamless, easy proposition?
- Are they knowledgeable? Do they have Lighting Certified (LC) staff?
- Can they get me the best rebates and handle warranty registrations?
- Can they finance my upgrades and maybe get me positive cash flow?
- Can they do this for all locations across the country?
- Can they handle all my lighting control needs and concerns?
- Are they experienced in this market and have they helped other customers make a successful transition?
These are all good questions to help you better understand your options, navigate the process, and make the best choices. You will be very pleased when you upgrade what is in your ceiling and you have nothing to lose except energy costs. At the end of the day you want to develop and plan to proactively manage what is in your ceiling, and have a plan in place to take make a gradual or comprehensive upgrade to this new technology. Good luck and please consider contacting me as my answer is YES to all the above. You can reach me at (267)370-1442 if you need help or have questions.