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Container Management - With a wide variety of lighting sources now available, light-emitting diode (LED) technology has established itself as one of the main choices for use in industrial facilities, as well as for domestic lighting. More and more ports and terminals have been converting to LED lighting, making investments to reap the benefits claimed for this relatively new technology.

Brad Lurie, CEO of Georgia-based Bright Light Systems (BLS), told CM that the company, which initially entered the market using light emitting plasma (LEP) as a light source, started seeing LED technology surpass plasma in terms of efficacy, efficiency and lumen output in late 2015. “Switching from plasma was the right thing to do because, while customers were intrigued by it, they were not signing cheques to implement it,” he noted. “You can buy LED products for your home, so people are already comfortable with it as a technology and they are now trying to get comfortable with the idea of using it in their big industrial facilities too.”

Lurie reported that BLS has seen growth of 300% year-on-year in 2018, adding that he expected 2019 to be another record year for the company and most likely for the industry as a whole. However, he also noted that the adoption rate of LED lighting in US ports was still slow, mostly due to the variance in quality that characterises the lighting industry. “The early adopters picked it up very quickly, but they were turned off by this technology because they had a lot of failures, so there is a huge growing opportunity here,” he stated. Lurie believes that the key is bringing together high-quality hardware designed for harsh environments, the prospect of safer and more secure port operations thanks to better-quality lighting, environmental benefits due to lower energy consumption and a relatively quick ROI of ideally two years. “This is what BLS is trying to do, so that customers cannot see any reason not to invest in LED technology,” he added.

The company’s most recent product is a light that offers 80,000+ lumens and more than 150 lumens per watt which, according to Lurie, gives it a competitive advantage over its rivals in terms of efficiency. Additionally, BLS’s products are designed to prevent glare and can be fully controlled wirelessly. “Not only can we turn off or dim the lights and schedule their use based on the expected workload, but we are also measuring energy use and monitoring drivers so we can notify the customer if there is an issue,” Lurie explained. “Today we use a seven-pin connector so that the controller can be applied to our products as well as any other lights that have the industry standard twistlock to provide automation, control and asset management.” BLS’s customers include Nassau Container Port in the Bahamas, the Georgia Ports Authority, Port Freeport in Texas and Ayala Colón Sucrs in Puerto Rico, which was one of the earlier adopters of the company’s control platform.

Moving forward, BLS is now looking at how its technology can be integrated with ports’ terminal operating systems (TOS). Lurie argued that there was a tremendous opportunity to start optimising energy consumption based on actual movements recognised by the lights’ sensors in specific areas of a facility rather than just basing performance on calculations.
“We have been having discussions and brainstorming sessions with one of the major TOS providers for about a year now,” he disclosed. “People are starting to see that creating an application programming interface (API) between the software platforms would give ports full control. One option would be for the Bright Light Management System software package to run as an application sitting ‘under the hood’.” Lurie hopes that things will start moving in 2019, with at least a couple of trials in place.