I sat down with Ross Fairbanks, our COO, to talk about LIGHTFAIR 2019 and what we experienced from the event as a company. We’ve both been to 10+ years of LIGHTFAIRs over time so it’s always interesting to compare them, year to year. For 2019, we brought several members of our lighting team and caught up with multiple partners and customers at the event. Ross and I both agreed, the relationship-building element of the show was definitely a highlight this year. Here are some of our other takeaways.
What solutions for LED lighting do you think we saw present at the show this year? What similar themes/questions were tackled?
Probably the coolest thing we saw at the show was security cameras being built into fixtures, created by Hubbell Lighting. We could see this application in any number of things – parking garages, common spaces, apartment complexes. The security camera was like a Nest or other standard, smart device currently on the market but it’s built into the fixture itself. It looks like a sensor and actually delivered very high-def video with pretty good playback in its own app.
Another interesting, new solution we learned about was a hologram flat panel. Acuity Brands presented the SPANL Flat Panel that boasts a hologram-style, 3D visual effect overlay. The panel appears to be three-dimensional, displaying as a recessed troffer or one of the other available designs. There could be a great application here for hospitality or a condo facility. They’re being released this fall.
Besides those feature products, we heard about, talked about and saw lots of color tuning solutions and controls applications.
Color tuning is based on circadian rhythm and works by adjusting lighting colors throughout the day to match the changing color temperature of the sun. This kind of solution would make a lot of sense for manufacturers who have 3rd shift workers, to help them experience the changing rhythm of natural light, even at nighttime. As a theme, color tuning was present everywhere. Even lower tier or cheaper lighting options have it – everyone’s doing it. We’ll be curious to see how cost-effective it may be to replace LED with color tuning fixtures over time. Currently, the financial argument isn’t there; though as a lighting solution, color tuning offers great features.
Overall, we both agree that we’re mostly seeing new styles of fixtures vs huge gains in tech. Incremental gains in LED lighting technology are getting smaller year over year. The types of changes we currently see are new styles of fixtures or the addition, modification or improvement of added controls to LED.
What was the best conversation we had about lighting at LIGHTFAIR?
Our best conversation was actually with a potential new partner. As a meeting place, LIGHTFAIR provides a great opportunity to be in the same time and place as many other (arguably most!) companies in the industry. Our partnership meeting was with a distributor and it was an honest, open meeting about how we could work together – what challenges and solutions we’re both trying to solve for our customers. We appreciated this chance to uncover a new partnership that looks like a win-win for both parties.
How did this event impact how you think we, and the team, will approach lighting solutions for new projects moving forward?
The 2019 conference didn’t deliver a huge impact for our team while looking at solutions. It was a lot more about the meetings we had and relationships we fostered while at the event. Especially for our business and how we develop energy services for customers, growing solid relationships with multiple kinds of companies enable us to build the right partnerships that in turn will benefit the projects we deliver for customers.
What benefit do future customers of Fairbanks Energy Services gain thanks to us attending an event like this?
We always use the best products, top of the line solutions and work to be more innovative over other ESCOs (Energy Service Companies). Because we use increasingly complex products and solutions compared to others, our customers don’t always know how to differentiate between all the LED lighting options that are now available today. Possessing the knowledge to pick and choose the right solutions per application is a strength we have and continue to deepen at events like LIGHTFAIR.
As a brand agnostic company, we don’t use the same vendor or distributor for every project. We develop custom solutions to solve for each individual facility’s needs. Events like this one expose us to the best and newest options on the market, new partnerships and improved solutions sets. To the advantage of current and future customers, we bring back that knowledge and those connections. By attending events like this, we gain a better understanding of what’s available for the projects and which solutions will make a real impact.