Let there be light…

It is an old cliché but in the case of Lighting Innovations, a Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape based manufacturer that has recently made a multi-million Rand investment in a new manufacturing facility situated on Cape Road in Greenbushes Industrial area, the glare of South Africa’s power crisis could not shine more on this company’s products.

The role of the traditional office and public space is changing, and lighting has an important role to play as standard designs evolve to accommodate modern ways of working, to meet changing needs and to reflect an organisation’s values.

The office has gained somewhat of a dull reputation over the years, with the common perception that it is a conforming, homogenous and somewhat soulless environment more likely to crush the spirit than to inspire its occupants.


Lighting Innovations showroom

While such a bleak view of the office might have had a place in the past, current trends are encouraging a far more vibrant and inspiring approach to the design of the modern workplace.

New trends are emerging as a result of the changing role of the workplace. There are three main factors influencing new office design. These can be summarised as new ways of working, workplace diversity and the emerging role of the office as a brand experience. These factors contribute to shape the office of the future, turning it into a more enjoyable and stimulating place in which to spend the working day.

Almost as a reaction to the conventionality of the past, architects and designers now recognise that all work in the office is not necessarily best achieved while occupying the same desk. The new approach to work embraces the fact that a diverse range of working environments better enables different tasks. At its simplest form, this concept might encompass meeting rooms to facilitate collective working practices, but this concept goes even further.


Lighting Innovations have installed a Salvagnini L5 high dynamic fibre laser in their new facility. The machine was supplied by Potgieter Industrial Machinery

More relaxed working areas furnished with couches may better suit informal meetings while standing tables may promote more dynamic interaction between employees. Equally, areas with whiteboards or flipcharts can provide an environment more conducive to brainstorming and group think-tanks. Employees can relate better to various assignments in a selection of settings. Moving to a work area away from the traditional “desk-and-monitor” space can help the employee refocus his or her mind on new tasks at hand.

Naturally, lighting design has an enormous part to play in these office design trends, especially as lighting can be adjusted more easily than furniture or décor.

Lighting has three roles to play here, and these can be achieved through a combination of intensity, colour and positioning. Firstly, light should provide the required conditions for the work at hand.


The Salvagnini P2 panel bender provides versatility in Lighting Innovations production capabilities


Most of the company’s sheet metal requirements are made up of mild steel but it also processes stainless steel and aluminium. Not all of the metal fabricated is sheet metal though. In the case of the roll-forming line metal is fed from coil, as are the two Multipress presses

Secondly, lighting can help create atmosphere and influence ambience. It can also affect the energy levels of the occupants, making them either more alert or relaxed. The challenge is to work with customers to evaluate how they wish to use their space, and then to design the lighting to enable and enhance this function. The practice of applying a standard lighting design to a range of different offices is now replaced by the understanding that every space and every application is unique.

Lighting innovations such as LED technology and luminous fabrics are creating more opportunities to design outcomes, which are better matched to the requirements of each area. In essence, these new technologies are equipping the lighting designer with more tools to achieve better, less obtrusive effects. The entire ceiling can, for example, now be used as a light source and lighting can be integrated seamlessly into walls and furniture.

Many of these concepts have been explored for more creative applications such as in the hospitality industry, but now that the cost of these technologies is reducing, they are becoming increasingly accessible for the mainstream market and their use for office applications is likely to increase in the future.


The Salvagnini P2 panel bender is a key part of the company’s sheet metal fabrication capabilities

Green Building (also known as green construction or sustainable building) refers to a structure and using process that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s lifecycle: from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. In other words, green building design involves finding the balance between building and the sustainable environment. This requires close cooperation of the design team, the architects, the engineers, and the client at all project stages. The Green Building practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort.

Lighting and power consumption thereof plays an important role in the Green Building environment and manufacturers are no longer your cut, bend and assemble operation – they play an integral part throughout the process.

This is recognisable in Lighting Innovations approach to its new state-of-the-art R60 million lighting manufacturing facility that it now occupies. The investment is part of the relocation of the factory and office component of Lighting Innovations from Wynberg, Gauteng to Greenbushes.

What began as any normal client/architect relationship between architects and client, quickly developed into a collaborative relationship that pushed the boundaries of what can be achieved when technical knowledge and design expertise is combined.


A closer look at the roll-forming line


Lighting Innovations has its own painting facility

The company’s first priority was to establish its factory and ensure that production lines were installed. This process, together with new state-of-the-art CNC and robotic technology, had to be completed first. Next was the office component and photometric laboratory with the Goniometer and Integrated Sphere. With its cutting-edge lighting technology being utilised, Lighting Innovations (which also has offices in other parts of the country), was able to drastically reduce electricity consumption and play its part in helping to preserve the environment.

The brief called for offices that would represent the company’s philosophy and advancements in terms of lighting manufacturing and development. Furthermore, it called for the architects to capture the identity of the company within the space as a showcase of Lighting Innovations’ capabilities. Discussions led to the conclusion that the offices and integrated spaces be developed to include a future proposal of a standalone showroom pavilion.

With this specific brief in mind, Adendorff Architects & Interiors began developing the concept for the office component by drawing inspiration from the fundamentals of light transmission as seen through a triangular prism. Visible light – often referred to as “white light”, is made up of component colours. These colours can be observed during passage through a triangular prism. When transmitted, the white light is separated into its component colours – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.


The busy assembly floor

Thus, derived from the angular characteristic of the triangular prism, the concept was dominant in design decisions and carried through to all the spaces, from the exterior clip-on component with its angular cut-out form, to the volumetric shapes and colours of the furniture and lighting fixtures. The strong collaboration between the architect and the client is evident, with custom light fittings designed especially for the various spaces and in line with the concept, which were then resolved technically in terms of the quality of the illumination by the technical team at Lighting Innovations. The concept is further reflected in the design of feature pieces, such as the reception desk, steel benches, comic-strip-covered angular coffee lounge chairs, 3D wall panels in the boardroom, and custom-designed 3D artwork in the passageway. The introduction of quirky humour in vinyl decals on glazed panels adds to the interest and individuality of the work environment for clients and staff. In terms of design, the result of this collaboration between architect and client is that Lighting Innovations is able to stand up to its name of “Innovation” in its ability to manufacture custom cut-steel light fittings. Through this technology it also demonstrated its ability to bridge the gap between simple mass-produced light manufacturing and producing custom lighting solutions.

Founded in 1989, Lighting Innovations grew from the dream of bringing the best lighting in the world to South Africa. Originally located in Wynberg, which is now the company’s Gauteng showroom, Lighting Innovations made the bold move to the Eastern Cape because of the necessity of a larger manufacturing facility.

The company is a complete lighting solutions provider of products including architectural and customised luminaires, LED luminaires, floodlighting and trunking, and completes in-house design and manufacture of custom lighting solutions, specification, supply and commissioning of the world’s best lighting brands. Their track record in major projects is as strong as their ability to accommodate small, individual applications where the right application of light could make all the difference to a project’s success or failure.

New Salvagnini P2 panel bender and L5 fibre laser
The company’s commitment to the environment has been proven through the pioneering work they do in energy efficient lighting. To achieve this their new 8000m² facility in Greenbushes contains some of the very latest, most advanced equipment available in the manufacture of lighting products. This includes an automatic robotic wiring cell, precision CNC press brakes, a fibre laser, a panel bending machine and turret punch presses, a roll-forming line, a fully automated powder coating plant, a dedicated cabling cell and an assembly division.

Pride of place are the new fully automated Salvagnini P2 panel bender and a Salvagnini L5 high dynamic fibre laser. The machines embrace the company’s reduction in energy consumption philosophy and the fibre laser, in particular, is said to reduce energy costs by more than 70 percent as compared to a CO2 laser. Both machines were supplied by Potgieter Industrial Machinery.


Lighting innovations such as LED technology and luminous fabrics are creating more opportunities to design outcomes, which are better matched to the requirements of each area. In essence, these new technologies are equipping the lighting designer with more tools to achieve better, less obtrusive effects. The entire ceiling can, for example, now be used as a light source and lighting can be integrated seamlessly into walls and furniture

This is the first time that the company has invested in a panel bender and the P2 is now a key part of the company’s sheet metal fabrication capabilities. Set up in a cell with the Salvagnini L5 fiber laser, which is also a first for the company, the P2 offers the heightened level of versatility that the company was looking for.

Existing fabrication equipment, such as Trumpf turret punch presses and press brakes and Amada press brakes, was relocated to the new facility from Wynberg.

“Lighting requires a huge amount of fabrication especially when you consider the volumes that we are processing. The Salvagninis, the robotic wiring cell and all the other equipment has increased our efficiencies beyond our expectations,” said Craig Waddell, a Director and son of the founder Bruce Waddell.

“Working with sheet metal in the thin-gauge range needs attention and accuracy. We would not have been able to invest in the robotic wiring cell if we did not have the accuracy further up the line. The robots will just shut down if the bends or holes are not in spec,” continued Craig.


Lighting Innovations has invested in two wiring robot stations with the latest generation of wiring tools

Most of the company’s sheet metal requirements are made up of mild steel but it also processes stainless steel and aluminium. Not all of the metal fabricated is sheet metal though. In the case of the roll-forming line metal is fed from coil, as are the two Multipress presses.

Within their photometric laboratory, a light’s efficiency may be measured by shining it on carefully positioned receptacles that measure its lighting output.

Lighting Innovations is able to determine for clients how much light is needed for their purposes, and to further recommend how to achieve this using the minimum number of light fittings. Some projects can require over a 100 hours of initial development and design.

The interaction between modern tubes, electronic as opposed to magnetic mechanisms, and optimally designed luminaires is what sees Lighting Innovations able to supply systems which offer a short pay-back period, and which guarantee reduced energy consumption and air conditioning (previously necessary as a result of the heat created by excess lighting).


Existing fabrication equipment, such as the Trumpf turret punch presses and press brakes, was relocated to the new facility from Wynberg

Technical support from overseas partners allows Lighting Innovations to produce solutions that are in touch with worldwide trends, and the company maintains close ties with leading designers, innovators and manufacturers in the lighting world. In addition to on-going knowledge transfer and the identification of global trends, this partnership affords South African buyers access to the best, most efficient lighting products available today.

Whether it is retail, property development or housing Lighting Innovations is able to provide a modern day solution.

Some notable projects have seen Lighting Innovations contribute to the impressive skyline of the Sandton Central Business District, possibly the most sought after business address in the country. 115 West Street, which houses Alexander Forbes and the new EY building are two examples of this. Included in the projects were office lighting, bathroom lighting, main entrance lighting, other inside lighting such as the atriums and skylights, as well as the outside gable wall lighting.


The company has a number of Amada press brakes on its production floor

The company also boasts that it was one of the major contractors for the 2010 World Cup Stadiums having been involved with four of the 10 stadiums.

Today the company employs 150 staff in Greenbushes and 200 in total countrywide. Staff are constantly reminded of the company’s philosophy via the quirky humour in vinyl decals on glazed panels that separate the offices with quotations such as “We work hard” and “We work even harder here”.

Chief Executive Bruce Waddell concluded with: “The lighting industry is pivotal to the South African economy and, as with all products, systems and services, what you put in is what you get out. We have made large investments in our production lines, machinery, tooling, laboratories, software and people skills, while our showrooms compare well with those of any global manufacturers.”

For further details contact Lighting Innovations on TEL: 041 819 7598 or visit www.lightinginnovations.co.za