Technology Leads Industrial Lighting to Sustainability

People and businesses alike are adapting processes and products to help ensure the activities we undertake and products we produce are sustainable for the future. Industrial lighting is no exception.


Sustainability has many facets. Of course, it takes in energy consumption and efficient use of raw materials, but it also covers recyclability, maintainability, and longevity. Many areas of our lives are changing to embrace the concept of sustainability. People and businesses alike are adapting processes and products to help ensure the activities we undertake and products we produce are sustainable for the future. Industrial lighting is no exception.

Because of the ease with which it can be done, the optimization or renovation of lighting is one of the more common reforms carried out to improve the efficiency of a facility. It requires no modification to existing structures and, through the replacement of conventional luminaires with LED technology, it is possible to reduce site energy consumption by up to 80%. For the oil and gas industry, however, such a change is not just about cost savings: Safety must come first.

A Time for Change
Compared with modern LED technology, traditional lighting solutions are distinctly lacking in sustainability. Not only are they power hungry, but they also require more frequent maintenance, are not easily recyclable, and may contain harmful elements such as mercury. For heavy industry, the question is not really whether to change to modern, sustainable lighting; it is more a question of when. The advantages are significant, and LED technology offers a good return on investment, so there is much to be gained and little to lose in this change for the future.

Increased lighting energy efficiency reduces energy consumption, lowers day-to-day running costs, and reduces carbon footprint. Indeed, LED modules and latest generation drivers for ATEX lighting can achieve net luminaire efficiency of close to 180 lm/W. Combined with the use of smart lighting control technologies, this can lead to massive savings of up to 80% compared with conventional luminaire technology. Furthermore, modern LED luminaires are designed for direct replacement of traditional fluorescent units, making the changeover incredibly straightforward.

Ensuring Safety in Explosive Atmospheres
For sites with hazardous areas or explosive environments, safety must be the most important consideration and can mean that tradition takes precedence over innovation. However, the latest LED technology is available with necessary ATEX ratings, which are mostly used in Europe to identify equipment certified under EX (ATEX, Europe) and IECEX (global) standards, and suitable environmental protection to handle extreme temperatures up to 75°C and harsh or corrosive atmospheric conditions. This makes these solutions ideal for use in petrochemical plants or in offshore environments.

Plastic Housings: About More Than Just Recycling
Traditional luminaires constructed from aluminium and glass are difficult to recycle, but they also create much more pollution during manufacturing. The use of modern plastics such as polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), however, offers numerous benefits.

The manufacture of luminaires corresponds to some 95% of their lifecycle carbon footprint. During the past few years, the manufacturing processes of plastic components have been optimized, considerably reducing the carbon footprint left in their manufacture. In addition, plastics such as PMMA can provide high protection ratings to avoid ingress of water and dust. It is also highly resistant to corrosion, making it a good choice where lighting may be exposed to chemical or salt aerosols. In turn, this increases the longevity of the luminaire and reduces maintenance overheads, both of which reduce lifetime costs and increase sustainability.

Reaching New Heights
When luminaires are installed out of reach (e.g., in tanks, pipes, or high bay applications), installation can be a challenge. Modern LED solutions using plastic housings offer advantages in terms of lighter weights for easier handling and installation. In addition, however, smart controls and monitoring can not only offer a more efficient cost solution but also are capable of providing engineers with predictive maintenance information, thereby avoiding unnecessary maintenance inspections and facilitating more-efficient planning of maintenance activities.

Part of the Digital Revolution
Call it “Industry 4.0” or “smart manufacturing,” many organizations are moving forward with digitalization programs aimed at harnessing new levels of efficiency and business agility. With intelligent devices and smart controls, the use of equipment is becoming increasingly optimized and levels of efficiency are reaching new heights. Lighting is an important part of this “fourth industrial revolution,” with many savings to be made.

Lighting, and the simple structure associated with it, allows the integration of intelligent devices, such as presence or luminous sensors. These smart controls can increase the efficiency of an LED luminaire by up to an 50%. By incorporating the lighting system into a communications network and using simple software, site managers can begin to understand the behavior of the lighting and its energy consumption to further drive efficiencies. Technologies such as presence sensors also can provide insight into the occupation of places to optimize not only the lighting but also the use of these spaces.

What Does the Future Hold?
While modern lighting solutions offer a step change in sustainability, there are still steps to be taken. The use of biodegradable, natural materials is beginning to be seen, but they have not yet reached sufficient technical maturity or performance levels to be a real alternative to plastics. This lack of maturity means the new materials cannot yet guarantee the same level of chemical resistance, optical behavior, and mechanical resistance that is possible with polycarbonate, polyamide, or PMMA. Companies such as Zalux are working to improve the materials used in the construction of their products, working toward 100% recyclable raw materials, and analyzing the use of innovative, recycled, recyclable, and biodegradable materials in readiness for when they become viable materials for manufacturing.

Zalux is striving to create a circular economy for luminaires with optimized manufacturing of luminaires and through innovation in technology and the raw materials used. It continues to work to improve the sustainability of manufacturing processes, increase recyclability, and develop products using more sustainable materials, reducing the carbon footprint left by luminaires throughout their useful life and lowering overall lifecycle costs. To do this, it applies eco-design techniques during the development process of luminaires in order to consider the environmental impact of the luminaire during its life cycle.

Modern LED technology, combined with more carefully thought out choices of housing materials offer the oil and gas industry a safe, robust, reliable, long-life lighting solution. Luminaires are available today with all necessary EX/IECEX certifications and ingress protection ratings to ensure smooth, safe operation in even the harshest of environments.

The addition of smart monitoring and control technologies takes lighting efficiency and sustainability to new levels by ensuring lights are only used when needed and maintenance cycles are fully optimized. This further adds the longevity of the luminaires and greatly reduces overall lifetime costs compared with conventional lighting technologies.

Ultimately, modern LED lighting solutions with smart controls and designs that consider all aspects of sustainability are a clear winner for the future of businesses, people, and the planet.