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Smart lighting may be even smarter than you think

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Most folks probably think that paying $600 to $900 per lighting fixture is overkill. I mean, it would take forever to get payback on that, right?  Not necessarily.

Atlas Box & Crating, which installed Digital Lumens smart lighting in its 292,000-square-foot warehouse, recovered its cost inside of 2 years, said Frank Tavares, GPE for that Sutton, Mass.-based company. That payback came in the form of drastically reduced energy bills as well as additional incentives from its utility company and tax incentives from the state.

Tavares expected lower electricity bills, more surprising was the upside from all the data collected by those smart fixtures, which work in part by sensing occupancy so they light an aisle only when there is foot traffic on that aisle, for example. “We set the parameters in the lighting and timing to track occupancy in each area… we have a lot of product out there and by using the occupancy sensors on the lamps I was many aisles that were heavily traveled in one part of the warehouse and another aisle across the warehouse that was also heavily traveled.” In between there was a dead zone.

Using that data, Atlas rearranged and consolidated the inventory on that single, remote aisle, placing it closer to where the rest of the action was.  That greatly increased efficiency.

lumens floor

Tavares said Digital Lumens dashboard is easy to see and interpret. “I can call up a schematic of all our fixtures, what’s running, what’s not and it gives me reports by the hour or minute. With that data I can do usage, cost and occupancy analysis,” he said.

In terms of energy saved, Atlas had been using 1.3 million kilowatt-hours  per year just for lighting before the installation and expected to cut 1 million kilowatt hours. When we spoke recently, Tavares said his projections show savings will be more . “We were striving to get to 300,000 kilowatt hours per year but it looks like it will be 250,000 kilowatt hours.”

Another potential bonus,  now that the lighting network is installed, is the ability to hang other devices off that network. It’s possible to converge temperature/heating trackers or other gear off that same network.

As Brian Chemel, CTO and founder of Boston-based Digital Lumens, put it, in many warehouse facilities, the lighting network can be a trojan horse for an array of other connected devices. “Part of our advantage is that we use wireless for the last leg. We install a wireless mesh based on ZigBee so our physical footprint is pretty light.

Digital Lumens LED

4 Responses to “Smart lighting may be even smarter than you think”

  1. I agree with Dean — seems like the big story is what it did besides save money on lighting. LEDs would save most of that on their own because of the efficiency gain over incandescents … but then I can’t see what was replaced. That would be a nice detail to have.

    But yes, the way that smart lights can change how you do business, that’s an interesting story.

    On a final note, still looks like some number challenges — I think they were trying to get to 300,000 (not 300) and got to 250,000 (not 250)?

  2. The side effect of warehouse optimisation via the LED lighting is the real story here.

    Do you have any idea how much Tavares’ company saved from the reconfiguration?