Let’s be honest how many times have we all thought this and yet bit our lip and accepted that the customer is always right. So, this does beg the question what you do or say when you know the customer is wrong.
This is where tact comes into play and the ability to negotiate becomes an essential skill in persuading the client to consider an alternative view. The client your customer after all isn’t an expert in the field you work in.
Lighting is part science part theatre and we have rather sadly undermined the value of light by focusing on output rather than the mechanism behind how that lighting is delivered. There are horror stories on the web and within the lighting industry where projects have been lost to inferior products that roughly deliver the same lumen package but have no glare control and may in some instances be electrically unsafe. Certainly, information from market surveillance programs from organisations such as the LIA would tend to support this view on some of the products they have reviewed.
Further education needs to be focused with the decision makers to help them make better decisions and to allow us the opportunity to tell them they are wrong and why they are wrong.
In many instances, I’m sure an intelligent customer would appreciate the input if handled correctly and would as a minimum help to create dialogue and at its best maintain or help to develop their lighting specification.
If we take this idea a little further and start to look at controls and emergency lighting, then we have to consider systems and how a bad mistake by a client or their contractor can have a potential catastrophic effect further down the line.
Let’s split this into two sections and I will start with Emergency Lighting before I proceed to controls. Emergency Lighting is a life safety system and has in recent years been cobbled together as part of the general luminaire package and seen as something that can and will be value engineered. Sensibly done, one could argue that this is just the commercials of business and that people will always negotiate and may the best person win the deal; sadly, that isn’t always the case.
Emergency lighting was seen as secondary to the mains lighting and as such was treated as a nuisance and something that we need to install but hey let’s install the minimum;10% should cover it. It may surprise you, but this still goes on today although there is more than enough legislation to support proper design and of course Risk management.
If the legislation is being flaunted, then it follows that the emergency luminaires will themselves be Value Engineered rather than selected for their performance. A good example of poor selection would be a product selected with an inferior battery that in the past if it didn’t meet duration or testing wasn’t carried out then most of this was hidden from view as there was no mechanism for testing and reporting. This thankfully has changed and standards such as IEC 62034:2012 Automatic test systems for battery powered emergency escape lighting provide strict guidance on how to comply with best practice. It’s worth mentioning that no manual testing should be considered on any project as the testing data is simply not worth the paper is printed on if the mechanisms in place don’t validate the data; buyer beware.
Remember you are the expert so you must inform and not be afraid to tell the client or their contractor they are wrong.
Similarly, with Lighting Control there is so much confusion and I hate to say this slightly different interpretations of key technologies. Original DALI for example, which was self-certified had some real challenges with some companies at the budget end of the market creating drivers that were DALI’ish in that they worked roughly within the DALI standard but didn’t fully comply with IEC 62386.
DALI-2 and the forming of the Digital Illumination Interface Alliance (DiiA) has addressed these issues by testing the components to confirm compliance. The big advantage here is that devices are interoperable as in, you can use different compliant devices from a range of manufacturers, and they will all work together.
As the foundation for a lighting control system it’s not a bad place to start from and if properly engineered forms the infrastructure of potential IoT projects.
The challenge is that I know where the market is going, and I can see the trends in controls and where we will be in the short and mid-term with a potential view on the long term.
My view is based on experience and knowledge gained over 30 years in controls as well as being at the forefront of some of the latest innovations in technology. I am not alone in this vision as there are a number of us who understand technology and see the trends in Lighting Control.
We are the experts and as such we are able to and should challenge the status quo, I’m right and your wrong is perhaps the incorrect term. You’re wrong, let me help you be right is perhaps a better expression.
If a business is to evolve and for technologies such as wireless communication and the Internet of things to be properly integrated into smart buildings and cities of the future, then we must be prepared to say when something is wrong and more importantly back up those arguments with facts and figures.
Stewart Langdown FSLL