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Timofey Kharitonov: “To Improve design, promote technologies, and maintain the quality of LED lighting systems”

LEDs burst into our life, economy, industry, municipal infrastructure, and road network while conquering the areas of human activities the previous generations of lighting engineers, designers, and architects didn’t even dare to dream about.

timofei–haritonov.jpgDue to novel light sources young companies are given the opportunity to get on their feet quickly and develop successfully in the future. One of such companies is AtomSvet LLC established in 2009 and forming a part of FNK Group of companies (FNK GROUP).

AtomSvet specializes in the design and production of LED lighting systems under a familiar brand name. The Company has an R&D Department and state–of–the–art production facilities. AtomSvet lighting systems are unique innovative products and the first lighting systems in Russia based on know–how that reduces light losses more than twofold in comparison with similar products on the market.

Timofey Kharitonov, the Chief Operating Officer of AtomSvet LLC, gave an exclusive interview to the Lighting Technology Market Magazine and spoke about the LED lighting systems’ advantages and the issues to be solved by the lighting engineering community to promote modern lighting technologies.

–  Manufacturing quality in major companies and basic lighting and electrical properties of modern LEDs are improved literally from one month to the next. What prospects do you see for the years to come?

When it comes to LEDs, the key manufacturers strive to enhance their energy efficiency (i.e., achieve increase in the lumens per watt). Today we can observe new trends emerging. For example, Nichia is now engaged in the development of LEDs capable of operating directly from a 220 V mains supply with no need for a power converter (the drawback inherent in today’s LED lighting systems).

Obviously, attention is paid to stability in performance and heat resistance, but most development projects focus on energy savings, the factor which is important to purchasers too. Along with the long–proven LED manufacturers such as Cree, Nichia, and Seoul Semiconductor, South Korean LG and Samsung have recently entered the race. Internationally renowned lighting equipment manufacturers Osram and Philips are now producing LEDs.

Today’s leading companies are way ahead not least, because they allocate more funds for research and development activities. It’s their projects that contribute to the creation of new knowledge and technologies. That’s why the companies which are lagging behind can rarely offer something new. Therefore, they mainly use patents and know–how created by the market leaders.

– Your company is not a new entrant to the domestic lighting technology market. What is your appraisal of today’s position of AtomSvet in the market, the situation in the market, and in the industry as a whole?

– According to the findings of a survey conducted by our Marketing Department, the general market situation is positive. Our market size in 2012 was 7 billion rubles. This year the market is expected to continue growing. A significant increase in project sales will be particularly noteworthy. This is what AtomSvet has focused on recently.

According to our data, AtomSvet is steadily strengthening its market position with our core strength lying in the sphere of industrial and street lighting systems and our latest trend of Bio Series LED lighting systems for greenhouses developing very actively. We consider production of LED lighting systems for illumination of trunk roads to be a promising line that is likely to become one of the main trends in 2013.

The main advantage of our industrial and street lighting systems lies in the high protection class (IP67) and performance stability over a wide temperature range: from –60 to +60 0С. We guarantee this performance for our entire line of lighting systems.

This is not the first year that LEDs have found new applications. But lighting engineers, architects, and economists still lack regulatory documents, reference literature and other types of essential material for design engineers. How do you handle this problem? And what can you offer to your partners and customers in this regard?

– This problem does, in fact, exist and complicates the work both for developers and manufacturers of LED lighting systems and design institutes. Currently applicable Construction Codes and Regulations (SNiP) specify requirements for incandescent lamps and gas–discharge lamps only. Available standards specify LEDs as a separate class of light sources. But, in general, rating of light sources is available only for incandescent lamps and gas–discharge lamps. Standardization bodies promise to update SNiP in the nearest future. But no one knows when it’s going to happen. In specific design projects we rely upon the standards provided for by the appropriate SNiP in terms of maximum illumination intensity and safety margin.

In your opinion, to what engineering and technological issues associated with LED lighting system design should architects, designers and engineers pay particular attention?

– There is a whole set of problems that require close attention. Selection of the type of LED lighting system design to match a specific project is one of the most important issues. Equally important is giving due consideration to the design of the heat sink, which affects the degradation rate of the LED. IP protection class and ambient temperature variations under specific conditions must not be ignored.

Unfortunately, experience shows that in the domestic market there are often discrepancies between the stated technical characteristics of lighting systems and light sources and their actual performance. What is more, very often the claimed performance characteristics contradict simple lighting technology logic. The less well–known the manufacturer is in the market the more such discrepancy is likely. Of course major manufacturers also make the same mistakes on very rare occasions. But they value their reputation and the trust of their customers and strive not to leave buyers disappointed with their products.

We believe it is necessary to create a self–regulating organization in the domestic LED industry to track rogue manufacturers of LED equipment who deceive consumers.

Is there a need for dedicated text books and training courses on LED based lighting equipment for higher educational institutions and colleges for the purpose of retraining existing specialists?

– Most probably there’s a need for new modern textbooks and manuals both for colleges and universities and lighting companies dealing with LED products (for the latter it is of critical importance). Sales managers should have a comprehensive knowledge on LED products they sell. This includes, in particular, economic factors and the technical parameters and operating principles of LEDs (method of heat removal, type of power source, etc.). Equally important is to provide training for those employees who handle purchases so that they could identify negligent manufacturers, understand the design and actual performance parameters of lighting systems, and know the difference between the good and the bad.

Severe local climate and potentially aggressive production environment have always exerted considerable influence on the development and use of lighting systems for such operating conditions. What is the impact of these circumstances on design, manufacture, and applications of LED lighting systems?

– Using high–quality electronic components in a power supply, providing for dust and moisture protection, and adequate heat removal are indispensable attributes of a high–grade lighting system. At our production facilities purchased components are subjected to quality monitoring, while finished products undergo thorough 100% checks on special testing equipment (both in terms of overvoltage or under–voltage operation and lighting hours under various ambient conditions). Testing techniques and methods have been developed in accordance with all the requirements of the appropriate standards.

Moreover, our lighting systems intended for operation in severe environments (mines, power generation facilities and similar industrial facilities) undergo mandatory state certification. AtomSvet is a company, whose only past, present, and future commitment is manufacturing high–quality products. Therefore continuous product improvement, both from the technical and intellectual point of view, is our main objective.

Introduction of LED lighting system implementation requires more financial investment than traditional systems. An insufficient budget is a common problem for small companies, regional housing and community amenity management companies, as well as municipalities of small towns and urban developments. Has AtomSvet adopted any loyalty programmes to assist these organizations with introducing such systems (bearing in mind the short pay–back periods of LED lighting systems)?

– It goes without saying that we treat all our buyers with huge respect. We have target–oriented programmes whereby after an initial purchase our customers get a discount for any future purchases of lighting systems. Often such customers promote AtomSvet products among their partners thus becoming our informal advertising agents.

LEDs are increasingly used for applications other than functional lighting such as architectural and landscape accent lighting of historical buildings and most significant urban facilities. Is there anything AtomSvet has to offer in this field?

– We do have architectural accent lighting. They allow architects and designers to create different form of light beams, and different designs of LED lighting system colour LEDs, thus enabling implementation of virtually any concept. The company is also working on the development of dynamic architectural lighting systems. A radio control system has been developed. In the nearest future our customers will have the possibility of controlling their AtomSvet lighting systems via DMX protocol. Therefore AtomSvet clients will be able to choose between wired or wireless control systems or a combination of the two.

Dimming is currently one of the most common lighting control methods for significantly reducing energy costs particularly in outdoor lighting of streets, roads, park areas, courtyards, and etc. Are these issues addressed in AtomSvet?

AtomSvet has turnkey solutions for LED road lighting dimming. These solutions are currently under discussion with customers. A dimming system enables automatic adjustment to natural seasonal lighting in parallel with the manual control, depending on local meteorological conditions.

As with any other solutions, we can offer our customers several dimming control options supported by cost estimates to assist with choosing the best system for the job.

Interviewed by Evgeny Seryi

Short video (2 min.)
Watch Download mp4 (23.9 Mb)

Corporate film (10 min.)
Watch Download mp4 (110.4 Mb)

Video of the manufacturing process and advantages of AtomSvet® LED lighting fixtures

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