Good vs bad LED lighting in ports and terminals – a conversation for now

by 15, Jul, 2021Innovation, Maritime 4.0, Market News0 comments

Paolo Corno, Technical Director & Spokesperson, Midstream Lighting (Image Courtesy: Midstream Lighting)

An insight into the economic, environmental, and operational benefits that can be gained by port and terminal owners and operators through investing in good LED lighting systems. A conversation with Paolo Corno, Technical Director & Spokesperson, Midstream Lighting

Opening the discussion with a pertinent question, Mr. Corno asked: “Have you ever tried loading a ship in the dark? Nobody understands the importance of investing in a good lighting system until there is no light.”

This sets the context for the critical but often overlooked role of well-built and designed LED lighting systems at ports and terminals.

The value of investing in high quality LED lighting

With increased energy efficiency and operational performance leading to greater cost, safety, and security benefits, to name a few, the arguments for investing in a good lighting system are substantial.

Despite this, many ports and terminals still use economically and environmentally adverse lighting products, such as high-pressure sodium, metal halide, or other similarly outdated technologies. 

For example, a metal halide lamp will deliver a high lumen output in the short term, but it will typically lose around 20% of this output in the first six months. It will still consume 100% of the energy it did when first fitted though. With a high-pressure sodium system, the colour rendering will be poor. Both these types of lighting will be costly to maintain too.

Comparatively, good LED lighting delivers superior visibility due to the light clarity it provides. It can increase light levels by up to and above 50%, whilst reducing port and terminal energy consumption by up to 70%. It also helps cut the cost of maintenance vastly. But that’s not all.

Mr. Corno says: “The improved visibility a good LED lighting system provides can increase operational productivity. For example, crane operators can see things more clearly which makes their job easier. Other workers can carry out frequent, detail-orientated tasks more efficiently too. Another big advantage of well-designed LED floodlighting is the colour of light it provides compared to other cheaper systems. This improved colour can help workers see the exact colour of labels and containers straightaway without having to double-check every time. It also helps with general visibility and how distances can be judged. These may seem like very basic things, but they make a massive difference to the overall operational effectiveness of a port and can help cut things like labour costs too.

Why a good LED lighting solution is worth the investment

Mr. Corno continues: “Although the initial cost of an LED lighting system, especially a good one, may be higher than other lighting systems currently on the market, the savings and operational benefits it provides overtime can make it the most cost-effective lighting available. In fact, a well-designed, robustly built LED solution can pay for itself in less than two years.”

“However, these benefits can be quickly lost with an LED system that’s not been designed or built well. This is particularly true in high heat environments where lighting can be susceptible to a significantly reduced lifespan thanks to things like degradation. Likewise, the increased saline levels present in ports and terminals can lead to corrosion and wear in systems not built to withstand them. Therefore, when considering the potentially volatile environment at ports and terminals, the quality of the LED system chosen, and its entire lifecycle must be factored into the purchase decision.” 

“High heat environments pose unavoidable risks to all lighting solutions. But at Midstream we dramatically reduce them with things like our in-house designed extruded heat sink. This allows for highly efficient heat dissipation due to its large surface area, when compared with a die-cast product other cheaper LED systems use. The innovative measures we take, such as this, keep lumen degradation to a minimum and extend the life and performance of our solutions. Likewise, by incorporating details such as solar covers and painting luminaire bodies white, we further protect our lighting against the effects of solar heat greatly compared to other, cheaper LED systems.

Mr. Corno continues by saying: “Midstream Lighting’s solutions are carefully crafted, tailored, and rigorously tested in laboratories and then in the field to make sure they continue to work and support port and terminal operations in the world’s toughest environments for years to come.”

“For high heat environments, specific tests are carried out in the worst-case scenario possible, with zero air movement, to guarantee the survival of each different component in our products in the world’s toughest environments.

“We also carry out to measure the effects of corrosion on lighting components in heavy saline environments. Here, the luminaires are covered in salt spray and left for months, and then checked for structural damages and visual defects. Thanks to the fact we construct our products out of stainless steel, unlike many of our competitors, we pass these tests too.”

Corno explains: “Thanks to the thorough tests our products go through when a Midstream system is installed, we know exactly what it’s going to look like, and more importantly how it will perform, after ten years of use out in the field. We’re so sure of this we back it up with our 10-year warranty.’’

‘’However, the initial lower cost of poorly designed, built, and tested LED systems is often attractive to those looking to make immediate savings. But, making a perceived small saving through purchasing these lower quality products, will lead to increased risks, such as total lighting failure – hence my initial question. They also lead to increased costs later down the line as port operators will need to replace them over and over again.’’

Looking ahead

Ports and terminals play a fundamental role in the continuation of the global supply chain. With many expansions planned for the coming years, and projects underway, Mr. Corno envisions that Midstream will continue to play a key role in creating the maritime hubs of the future.

Sea News Feature, July 15