Hager was recently involved in a roundtable debate amongst lighting designers and consultants, arranged to facilitate wide-ranging discussions around some of the current challenges facing lighting installation and design.
The roundtable discussions covered topics ranging from ‘spec busting’ to issues around commissioning, and some of the key trends for the future, including the evolution and growth of LED technology and interconnectivity across lighting and broader building management systems.
Here’s What Hager Found
VALUE ENGINEERING AND ‘SPEC-BUSTING’
There was a general feeling that the marketplace has to be far more educated about the concept of ‘value engineering’ and be prepared to look at the bigger picture rather than solely at cost. Indeed, the discussion highlighted that the industry needs to continually strive to promote the overall benefits of a full lifecycle perspective that takes into account warranties and the cost of total installation, so a return on investment can be calculated over the long-term.
A member of the discussion commented, “If you’re value engineering, you are adding value to the product and the service that is being offered. So, a product with a 10 year lifespan and a three year payback, will give you a return on investment over the remaining 7 years.”
The consensus was that there remains a continual struggle to convince all parties as to the wider value to be gained from a long-term, holistic view of a lighting project.
It is problematic, as one observer cited – “My clients are not interested in the pay back. They want the building up and running as quickly as possible and they’ll go for the cheapest fittings to do the job.”
Likewise, a tendency to stick with the norm prevails. Projects are frequently demanding new lighting systems to integrate with existing ones, even though it is not always the best solution, and this mind-set can often be seen when dealing with large facilities management departments that do not want to move away from familiar systems. Such decisions mean many projects are missing out on new and additional system benefits, but clients are choosing to remain with familiar solutions.
The participants also articulated a general feeling of frustration that, in many cases, highly appropriate, benefit-driven lighting systems can be designed and put together, but these are then compromised by a cheaper alternative at installation.
While acknowledging the real world reality where cost is a primary motivating factor, there was a belief that projects are missing out on many benefits by taking a short-term, cost-driven approach and thereby ensuring ‘spec-busting’ remains a tangible challenge.
Education also remains key. Value engineering needs to be understood throughout the supply chain so contractors and end users alike are more prepared to accept the recommendations and expertise on offer when they employ consultants.
In essence, value engineering in the eyes of one attendee can be summarised as ‘Adding value for the same cost, meaning the cost of the project doesn’t change… but you add in a lot more value. Stopping the client from spec busting and going down the cheaper avenue is fundamental.’
DIFFICULTIES WITH COMMISSIONING SYSTEMS
Linked heavily to the challenges associated with ‘spec busting’ and the understanding and appreciation of value engineering, is that of commissioning different systems.
It was agreed that contractors are sometimes reluctant to spend costly time and valuable resources learning about different lighting systems and will understandably often select those they are familiar with. However, when it comes to commissioning, this can cause issues.
Maintenance engineers can struggle to make sense of the system that has been individually specified, installed and connected. The lack of emphasis on training and the absence of an overall holistic overview is compromising projects, especially when the incentive is to simply get the system working as quickly as possible.
The answer perhaps lies in the advent of more simplified lighting systems to take the pressure off engineers.
Many specifiers prefer different systems, so installers can be lost amongst a wide range of solutions and end up with systems not fully commissioned, or just operating with its most basic features. Simple systems that can be easily commissioned and tested would be beneficial and, in the opinion of those at the roundtable debate, be a real selling point, reversing the long running trend where buildings have incorrectly commissioned lighting systems properly because no one knows how to set them up.
For more information on the solutions from Hager that solve many of the most common issues highlighted during the roundtable discussions with lighting designers and consultants, contact Mervyn Knox, Area Sales Manager on 0044 (0)7968 147444, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.hager.ie