Firms make the future glow

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 March, 2009, 12:00am

The emergence of light-emitting diodes (LED) has taken the applications of lighting to a whole new level. The popularity of using LED lighting has grown since its introduction as a practical electronic component in 1962 due to its many advantages over traditional light sources, including their smaller size and robustness. The compact size of LEDs has allowed new text and video displays and sensors to be developed, while their high switching rates are useful in communications technology.

However, growing environmental concerns and demand for higher quality lighting are now the main driving force for the development of LED, according to Teddy Lo Yeung-man, chief vision officer of LED Artist, a lighting effect design company. 'People are more aware of issues such as energy conservation and waste reduction. LED consumes less energy than the traditional incandescent light bulb and lasts much longer. Apart from being an environmentally friendly product, it has the power to create effects that traditional lighting can't,' he said. 'The colours emitted by LED are much more diverse than conventional lighting and much brighter.'

LED can be manipulated to create a variety of visual effects and is commonly used for decorative lighting, but its energy-saving attributes have made it an option for home and office use.

'Many companies conscious of social responsibility and modern households are more willing to use LED for the sake of the environment. The initial investment in LED for manufacturers and consumers is not cheap but, in the long term, it has to be the right choice,' Mr Lo said. 'Some European countries encourage the use of LED by providing electricity subsidies to users. This is something that our government can consider. Consumers should think long-term and be willing to bear the initial cost of installation,' he said.

Mr Lo has replaced the incandescent and fluorescent lighting system used in his company with an LED system to further promote the use of the technology.

Jade Tse Fei, general manager of Huafuda Lighting Consultants, which provides lighting installation and maintenance services, said educating clients about the benefits of LED was the key to spreading its popularity and promoting its wider use. 'About 60 per cent of our clients have heard about LED but many of them are not familiar with it. They only know that it is an innovative lighting product but they are not very aware of its functions and benefits. LED is a high-end product and it is important to show clients its real worth,' Ms Tse said.

To gain the trust of her clients and allow them to see the effect and benefits, Ms Tse offers to change the lighting of part of a client's premises for trial. 'They can look at the electricity bill and realise that the power consumption has decreased and the quality of the lighting has risen. If they are satisfied, then we move on to change the lighting of the whole premises,' she said.

Ms Tse said it was important for people who worked in the LED industry to be familiar with the development of lighting. Huafuda equips staff with knowledge on lighting by providing training for all sales staff, lighting consultants and lighting engineers.

Recruits have to go through a three-day basic training programme when they join the company. There are also briefing sessions every Saturday to update staff on the latest market trends.

Seeing LED as a major trend in the lighting industry for years to come, Ms Tse planned to expand the company's sales teams and recruit more lighting consultants to keep up with demand. 'The Hong Kong Environmental Bureau is going to introduce a policy to subsidise all property owners in Hong Kong to change their old lighting systems to energy-saving ones. This will be a great boost to the LED business.'

Mr Lo said that the LED market would eventually replace the traditional lighting market and that the potential for related businesses was unlimited. This also meant that competition in this industry would get more intense with more players.

'Our company is not experiencing much direct competition because there are not too many companies that provide consultation services like we do. However, with more LED lighting fixture manufacturers trying to tap commercial lighting design and traditional lighting consultants specialising in LED products, the market will become more competitive,' Mr Lo said.

LED Artist has offices in Hong Kong and New York, and a Shanghai office is set to open this year.

'We are looking to employ lighting designers, design engineers and lighting project managers to develop the mainland market.'