How much is bad lighting costing you at your industrial facility?

Mistakes happen under poor lighting

'A lot of facilities in B.C. operate below their potential '

It's so commonplace that it's taken for granted. But if you haven't thought about your facility's lighting lately, chances are you're hurting your bottom line — in more ways than one.

"It's estimated by Power Smart engineers that up to 70 to 80 per cent of industrial facilities in B.C. could benefit from a lighting improvement," says Nancy Adams, sector manager for small-medium industrial customers. "When I heard that number, I was shocked. That means a lot of plants are operating below their potential."

Reasons for poor lighting

Senior engineer Cristian Suvagau says there are a number of reasons industrial facilities wind up with poor lighting, including:

  1. Lighting maintenance is often overlooked. Older style lighting fades significantly as it ages; many companies are unaware their lighting has dropped below recommended standards.
  2. When lights go out, an electrician is asked to "just fix it." This can mean resorting to the easiest solution, usually replacing a lamp with the same type, rather than considering the whole system.
  3. Facilities change over time, but lighting doesn't always get redesigned. When machines or working areas are moved or reorganized, task lighting requirements change — but often lighting is left as is.

Mistakes, safety, and waste: bad lighting hurts your bottom line

"Another reason industrial companies sometimes overlook lighting is because the energy costs for lighting appear small in comparison to other operating costs," says Adams.

"But lighting is a core element of your industrial process; it's the first piece of equipment you need in place to be able to do almost anything. It's that integral to production."

Any industrial process that requires good visual performance from workers should ensure there is high quality light, says Adams. It improves safety, and workers consistently say they feel better when their space is properly lit, offering a potential productivity boost.

"Instead of just thinking that lighting helps your workers to see, you need to consider, 'What does being able to see allow my workers to do?'" says Adams. "That's when you're considering lighting as part of your industrial process." As the workforce ages and visual acuity declines, this becomes even more important, she says.

Power Smart incentives, plus savings, offer great paybacks

Even if energy for lighting is not a large part of your company's overall costs, there are significant savings to be had by switching to efficient systems — in the range of 30-50% reduction in lighting energy consumption.

Add BC Hydro incentives offered through the Product Incentive Program or Self-serve Incentive Program, and you can cut your costs significantly. Depending on the program, you could qualify for an incentive of up to 75 per cent of the project cost. Find out what incentive programs your business is eligible for.

Improving your lighting has never been easier. From now through March 2014, you can get free support from a LiveSmart BC Business Energy Advisor, who will advise on opportunities and incentives, and help out with the legwork to get the job done. Or consult a member of the Power Smart Alliance — contractors and suppliers knowledgeable about energy efficiency and BC Hydro programs.

"We're sending a notice to our industrial customers during Power Smart month because we feel there's such a huge opportunity for them to improve their efficiency, both in terms of energy and worker productivity," says Adams. "Good lighting makes a huge difference in industrial settings. And the cost of getting rid of the outdated lighting has never been so easy to handle."

Read what industrial companies are saying about lighting upgrades

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