Volume 5 | Issue 8 | Year 2002

Most people might not think about the affect that proper light has not only on the production or retail floor but also on a business’s bottom line. The folks at Day-Brite Lighting not only think about these issues; moreover, these issues form the strong foundation upon which the company’s success rests. “We focus our efforts on ways to lower our customers’ operating costs while improving their efficiencies,” says George Preston, vice president and general manager of the Tupelo, Miss. company. “We use innovation and the newest technologies to provide superior value to our customers.”

An industry innovator for about 80 years, Day-Brite is clearly focused on its responsibility to customers and its role in the customer relationship. “The important thing for us to do is not ask our customers what they want in a lighting fixture,” Preston explains. “Instead, we ask the far more important question regarding what are our customers’ drivers of their businesses – what drives their costs, efficiencies, and their productivity. Then we figure out which technologies to apply to their particular needs.”

Day-Brite offers lighting solutions to fit any need, and caters to commercial and industrial businesses including retail, offices, industrial facilities, warehouses and distribution centers, schools, and hospitals.

Illuminating the bottom line
One thing Day-Brite does very well is listen. “We talk to our customers so we can understand exactly how they use lighting within their businesses,” Preston says. A retailer, for example, is most concerned about the visual presentation of merchandise which has an extraordinary effect on whether consumers will purchase or not. “The right lighting can greatly influence these decisions.”

Another example, albeit somewhat atypical, is a hospital’s use of lighting. “The person in charge of purchasing lighting solutions might be a facilities manager but is not the beneficiary or victim of a good or bad lighting installation,” says Preston. “So we conducted focus groups with doctors and nurses and we found that one of the things nurses complained about most were the noisy light switches they needed to turn on for nightly rounds taking vital signs.” The clicking of the switch often woke patients and if that didn’t wake them, the glaring light did. “So some of the lighting solutions we designed specifically for hospitals includes silent on/off switches and multiple-function light fixtures that allow the lights to be focused on the nurses’ charts and not on the patient’s eyes,” explains Preston.

Preston offers another example epitomizing the archaic technologies people are using without really thinking about how outdated their lighting solutions are. This example pertains to eight-foot strip lights commonly used in supermarkets, medium-box retail stores, strip mall businesses, and industrial applications. “We estimate there are about 100 million of these lights installed in the country and they all use the archaic technology of magnetically ballasted T12 lamps,” Preston explains. Today, these applications are more efficiently served using T8, smaller diameter lamps and newer technology. “These electronically ballasted systems can provide a 22-percent energy savings,” Preston says.

Day-Brite’s lighting solution offers businesses the best of both worlds; hardly any installation headaches and immediate savings and higher efficiencies. “One of the issues of concern we heard from businesses is they didn’t want any disruption to their daily business,” Preston continues. “We love these kinds of challenges and this time we developed a fixture that retrofits. We call it the Retro-Quick fixture, which is specially designed so an electrician can just connect three wires. Each light can be retrofitted in under five minutes and can provide an immediate energy savings of 22 percent.”In addition to these enlightening increases, the Retro-Quick solution offers 10 percent more light and the light bulbs last two times longer. “We went from the old power consumption of 126 watts to 99 watts and at 10 cents per kilowatt hours, that will save customers about $11.20 per year per light fixture,” says Preston.

Spotlighting Energy Savings
“One thing we have discovered is that different customer segments have differing lighting system needs. This means that we must develop different systems for each market segment. However, we find that there are common themes. For example, we find that all of our customers want energy savings and we are putting our focus on developing cost-efficient lighting systems,” Preston says, noting that most commercial and industrial buildings built during the last several decades use outdated lighting technologies. “Virtually anyone who has not looked at their lighting recently can expect to save 20 percent of their lighting operating costs right off the bat once they use lighting systems like ours with the newer technologies,” he says. He notes that in a typical commercial building, about 39 percent of total energy costs are attributed to lighting. “So if you can immediately save 20 percent of that 39 percent, you can see how quickly you can earn financial returns on your investment.”

One small, but very important detail in just about every industrial, commercial, and public building are the exit signs. “No one ever thinks about how much energy they use,” Preston says. These signs typically use two incandescent bulbs of 40 watts each. “We can now use only 1.2 watts to light these signs and this means an immediate 97 percent energy savings using LED technology,” he explains.

Annual energy costs shed light on just how expensive that old technology can be. At 10 cents per kilowatt hour using the old technology, each exit sign would cost $35.04 to operate. Using LED technology, it’s a mere $1.05 annually or an annual savings of $33.99 just for one sign.

Some applications require a new way of thinking about the distribution of light. “In warehouses where you have high racks of material stored, light is not required to be on the horizontal surface but on the vertical surface because workers have to be able to read labels and bar codes,” Preston explains. “We have a wide variety of fixtures specifically designed to provide excellent lighting in warehouses such as our LogistixPro.” This is a high performance fixture with more than 2400 facets in the reflector to direct the light out to the sides instead of straight down. “Vertical surfaces are illuminated and these fixtures allow you to use 25 percent fewer fixtures to get the same light on those vertical surfaces,” explains Preston. These lights also offer much better uniformity of light distribution.

Day-Brite’s MicroSlot luminaire is specifically designed for retail applications. “Store designers told us they wanted to clean up the ceilings and they wanted to use less energy,” Preston says. “MicroSlot has a patented optical system which uses multiple elliptical reflectors. It occupies 78 percent less ceiling real estate and it’s only three inches wide rather than the two-feet wide light fixture previously used.” Light that is not being used is just wasted energy, Preston says. “One method to achieving energy efficiency is to make sure your lighting is designed to illuminate the areas you want lighted,” he says.

Coming attractions for Day-Brite include continuing in its current role of innovator. “Some of our major competitors, especially in this down economy, have retrenched. They have stopped investing in the business and are not coming out with new products only cost-reduced versions of old products,” notes Preston. “But it’s our strategic thrust to continue to be one of the leading innovators in lighting by continuing to develop better applications using cutting-edge technologies.”