What does digital transformation mean in reality; well that’s quite a complex question and one that doesn’t really have a simple answer. In practise this is an ongoing process of replacing services and products with current and evolving technology that will improve our lit environment whilst making the space safer and hopefully more efficient.
All sounds marvellous but the real challenge is understanding what technology works for you and how you can measure the effectiveness of that technology or service. There have been a number of attempts to measure performance and lighting is perhaps a good example of an industry where we measure efficacy of the components of a luminaire to give energy performance ratings whilst also looking at the effects of glare and light quality as well as colour. A competent engineer should then be able to use that data to select a luminaire or lighting system to illuminate a building or space. As a process this is understood and something that is undertaken by designers and engineers on a daily basis. You might also argue that the digital transformation of lighting has to a degree already occurred with the transition from older lighting technologies to LED’s. Control gear and the LED’s are now the lighting solution of choice for most applications.
The luminaires are however, only part of the digital transformation with Lighting controls providing a key component of any smart system. Lighting is everywhere and as a point of connectivity it provides an ideal platform for so called smart lighting. The smart however, isn’t really in the lighting it’s the system behind the lighting that it transformational. We generally don’t see the infrastructure of the controls network so may not fully understand the influence of any one system.
Wired or wireless, controls provide a framework of connectivity that allows inputs from various sources to trigger events that regulate the lighting or may trigger an event not associated with lighting. This is the true digital transformation where a device is just that a device that can change its functionality depending on the task or on other factors such as time or status change. Think of emergency lighting when we talk about status change as technology now allows us to combine fire alarms with emergency lighting and in some instances building evacuation systems to efficiently remove a large group of people from peril.
The challenge with the Digital transformation of lighting control is the lack of clarity on what system or technology you should embrace to ensure you have a robust and scalable infrastructure not only for today but also the future.
Education is key and to that extent the Lighting industry has been working with various bodies to ensure there is a robust framework in place that supports this transition. If you check out the Digital Illumination Interface Alliance (DiiA) website https://www.digitalilluminationinterface.orgyou can read for yourself how the industry is defining the standards for wired and wireless and how with the launch of DALI-2 we have developed an open platform for switches and sensors and with the publication of IEC 62386 Part 104 we now have an agreed wireless strategy.
Also, within DALI-2 we have now agreed the interface to the wider network which is either BACnet or IP. We favour BACnet as it allows the Application controllers which is the interface to DALI to connect to management software supplied by zencontrol or to a standalone Building management system.
Companies like ourselves have embraced DALI-2 as the only true and open platform that treats hardware as true interoperable devices. DALI-2 switches and sensors from different manufacturers can be used together so you are no longer hooked into a single source solution and also providing you choose the right device enhanced analytics can be obtained that will be truly transformative.
There is still confusion in the market as to the approach to take, but if you apply the zencontrol strategy to lighting control and emergency lighting and testing then you are assured that your building will be compliant and truly digitally transformed to meet the future needs of you, and your client.
Be smart, be zencontrol.
Stewart B Langdown FSLL