Seeing into the future is at best a finger in the air or at its most precise an interpretation of a range of data to come to a decision based on knowledge. The latter is preferable to the former, however, its difficult to know what data is accurate.

History has many different stories about if only I knew at the time, I could have made a fortune. Predicting which technology to back is difficult, if we all had a clear idea of where we were going then life would be oh so much simpler.

We are at crossroads where tech is changing faster than individuals or companies can train themselves up to understand that knowledge. It’s like agreeing to a new technology when you speak one language and the other person is speaking a completely different language. No, I didn’t agree to this I hear you mutter, but maybe you did; understand what you’re signing up to.

Consultants have a very difficult job to manage in that often the M&E engineers have to be jack of all trades and not necessarily masters of them all. Its fair to say they will have a specialism but even they would struggle with some of the new jargon and terms that are bandied about to promote a new technology.

Broken down all technology, is fairly straightforward, even the murky world of programming follows a logical pattern and if you understand what a stop and start bit does then you have a handle on how a program runs. The details of how it runs is often overlooked as all I need it to do is deliver the function. The same way most of us have no idea how a phone works yet we trust it to work and keep us connected.

Industries such as the mobile phone industry are very heavily organised and policed, so communications are standardised and we know devices will work unless locked to a particular carrier. There is an agreement of openness between manufacturers and operating systems to ensure they function.

In other sectors and particular lighting, this hasn’t been so evident and in recent years Lighting controls companies have done their utmost to avoid any form of interconnectivity. There were some attempts with Lonworks and KNX but again, with regard to the former, this was heavily modified to suit individual companies.

We all knew this and to a certain extent we accepted the way it was, and company X and company Y continued to pitch their solution as the only way forward. As a consultant how do you challenge this, and one could argue why should you.

The answer is obvious in that you have your client’s best interest at heart and designing a restrictive system, is costly if not in the short term but the long term most definitely.

At zencontrol we have been working to promote the use of DALI-2 as the way forward. Its finally an open approach to Lighting controls that allows the Consultant specifying the project to know that they are not locking in the client and it’s not just zencontrol.

The Digital Illumination Interface Alliance DiiA for short is a body that is there to promote what is the only standard in Lighting IEC 62386. This standard is supported by all of the major players and a number of lighting controls companies, yet very few are pushing the benefits. Certainly DALI-2 drivers are well accepted and appear on many projects, but the controls have been somewhat lacking in certain quarters.

We firmly put our stake in the ground and started to deliver DALI-2 projects over 18months ago. The transition wasn’t without the odd hiccup but generally the adoption of DALI-2 has changed the whole way we specify controls and how we work with consultants to build a more open and future safe controls strategy.

Hardware is interchangeable for the first time and gives the end client the freedom of choice when upgrading through life; hands down it wins the CAPEX versus OPEX argument.

Specification became easier with DALI-2 as its opened-up lighting and particularly smart lighting to a platform that has the word standard written all over it.

Foresight is now no longer a wild guess but something that has become a lot simpler with DALI-2.

Stewart B Langdown FSLL

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