Signify to accelerate their lighting range with technology and innovation

Sumit Joshi, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Signify India provides a gist to Abegail D’mello about his company’s innovative designs build to deliver world-class lighting systems, embedded with intelligence and connected through software that enables end-users to manage, monitor, and control lighting assets to improve lighting operation and business performance.

Tell us in brief about Signify. What are the steps taken to accomplish your mission of unlocking the extraordinary potential of light?

Signify is the world leader in lighting for professionals, consumers and lighting for the Internet of Things. Our energy-efficient lighting products, systems and services enable our customers to enjoy a superior quality of light and make people’s lives safer and more comfortable ensure that businesses are more productive and cities more livable.

We unlock the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world. We achieve this through living our values, innovation, passion for sustainability and desire to transform people’s lives. We have always focused on innovation, creating new products and services for the benefit of consumers. We spot a problem, which nobody focuses on and grow in that segment by developing groundbreaking and futuristic solutions. For more than 125 years, we have pioneered breakthroughs in lighting and been the driving force for many innovations.

Signify continues to innovate in LED lighting and is leading the industry’s expansion to lighting systems in both professional and consumer markets. Our position as the industry leader in connected lighting makes Signify the lighting company for the Internet of Things (IoT). We have already installed millions of connected light points worldwide. This growing number of connected light points, sensors, and devices, as well as systems, can collect large volumes of data that our offering Interact was designed to handle. The highly secure, scalable cloud-based Interact platform uses sophisticated and modern data management and data processing capabilities, including machine learning, to bring sense to all manner of data – creating data-enabled services for customers that will deliver benefits beyond illumination.

We are also investing to broaden our UV-C lighting portfolio to meet the growing demand for disinfection. The company is launching 12 families of UV-C-based products for professional markets (B2B) and has recently launched a UV-C disinfection system for the B2C market. By increasing capacity and broadening the UV-C portfolio, we are trying to help keep people safe in a world that’s adjusting to a new normal.

Elaborate on the R&D sector of your products. How are you coping-up with producing economic products without compromising on the quality?

Signify has been the driving force for many innovations in the lighting industry as we invest heavily in R&D to stay at the forefront of technological developments. We invested 4.5% of our global sales in R&D. We have also established large global R&D units, in Bengaluru and Noida, to work on emerging lighting technologies not just for India but also for global markets. As a result, we design and manufacture more than 98% in India of what we sell in India, which helps us produce economical products.

Tell us more about your horticulture lights and the flexibility of its fixtures to make fixing effortless.

Growing demand for high quality, fresh and organic food and an increasing interest in sustainable farming solutions in countries with arid climates such as India… have resulted in an increased interest in indoor farming techniques that use horticulture lighting solutions for growing plants. Furthermore, because of its economic feasibility and ability to serve as a possible solution to India’s dwindling availability of fertile soil or clean and surplus water, this practice of agriculture resolves around many of the issues challenged around the year. Combined with drought conditions and the vagaries of global warming, Indian agriculturalists are fighting a drastic reduction in the availability of locally grown food for India’s large and ever-growing population.

With cutting-edge LED innovative technologies at our command, we can custom-build a science-based solution for different horticulture application areas. We do not provide mere lighting, but also provide ‘unique light recipe’ suitable to the application developed through our research and global experience. Our light recipes are suitable for different segments within horticulture, e.g. vegetable production, tissue culture, young plant production, cut flowers, seedlings, and nurseries. Tailor-made light recipes mean faster growth, bigger harvests, and higher quality plants. Having completed hundreds of projects on a range of crops, Signify Horticulture LED solutions is offering knowledge of Horticulture LED lighting solutions around the world.

GreenPower LED Toplighting: Delivers a high light output while radiating less heat. It means light and temperature can be controlled separately from each other to gain more control over growing conditions. Combined with our dedicated light recipes opens new opportunities for every greenhouse grower to increase their quality and yields and move to year-round production. Toplighting shortens growth cycles, increase yields, reduce energy usage, and enable more economic use of space.

GreenPowerLED Production Module: Specially designed for vertical growth systems, the best solution for new or existing installations. Due to its high energy efficiency and long lifetime, and is a cost-effective way to improve climate and crop control for indoor cultivation environments. Optimized for closed, climate-controlled cultivation facilities, such as city/vertical farms, propagation, and research centers that use multilayer growth systems to grow crops such as lettuce and other leafy greens, soft fruits, herbs, and young plants.

GrowWise Control Systems: Allows growers and researchers to easily create and run custom LED light recipes to meet the needs of specific crops to improve quality, productivity, and efficiency. It can be used as a standalone system or integrated into a climate or logistic computer system to steer specific plant characteristics, from compactness, colour intensity, and branch development to flowering and more to improve results.

Brief us on your innovation of Li-Fi and how best are you using IoT across your light product? How do you justify your innovation with constant development in the R&D scenario?

Light Fidelity (Li-Fi) is a technology in which high quality LED lighting provides a stable and fast broadband Internet connection through light waves. Unlike other forms of wireless communications (e.g. WiFi, 4G/5G, Bluetooth, etc.) that use radio waves, Li-Fi uses the broader spectrum of light waves to transmit and receive data wirelessly and its bandwidth is more than 1,000 times the size of the radio spectrum. Satisfying all the requirements of this digital day and age, Li-Fi is a perfect fit for financial institutions, government, and public offices that demand a highly secure and fast internet connection.

Data transmission over the light spectrum is the latest buzz in the world of lighting, as the radio spectrum is becoming congested and is also susceptible to cyber intrusions. The light spectrum is quite wide and underutilized as we’re using it so far only for lighting purposes, but through Li-Fi light waves can also be used to transmit data and connect devices more safely with high-speed data transmission. Our TruLiFi range can also provide uninterrupted internet access in public transportation systems like aircraft and railways.

We innovate, design, build and deliver world-class lighting systems, embedded with intelligence and connected through software to deliver capability to manage, monitor, and control lighting assets, enable data harvesting and analysis for improvement of lighting operation and business performance.

What makes your products stand out from your competitors? What is your contribution to energy-efficiency and conservation?

Signify has been in the lighting industry for decades and has been a pioneer in many products and innovations. We have always tried to bring cutting edge technology and innovation in our products at the most affordable cost and have managed to build a trusted brand name. By focusing on energy efficiency, renewable energy consumption, and office space optimization, our five markets have reduced their overall carbon emissions by 19% in 2019. This brings Signify a big step closer towards achieving 100% carbon-neutral operations in 2020, one of the goals of its “Brighter Lives, Better World” sustainability program. This includes a reduction of 33% from non-industrial sites, 17% from industrial sites, 32% from business travel, and 18% from logistics. Signify offsets its remaining emissions through contributions to projects that have a positive environmental and social impact, including small-to-medium-sized wind farms in India and a hydro plant in Vietnam that operates without using a dam.

Signify introduced its “Brighter Lives, Better World” sustainability program in 2016, setting ambitious sustainability goals for 2020, consisting of two pillars:

Sustainable revenues: 80% of revenues will come from sustainable products, systems, and services by 2020; More than 2 billion LED lamps and luminaires delivered by 2020.

Sustainable operations: 100% carbon neutral for operations; 100% use of renewable electricity; Zero waste to landfill in manufacturing; Strive for a safe and healthy workplace with a total recordable case rate of less than 0.35; Ensuring a sustainable supply chain with a minimum supplier performance rate of 90%.

Signify has already started the phase-out of plastic by removing commonly used plastic inserts from Philips Hue bulb packaging. Signify already uses 80% recycled paper for its packaging and will now start phasing out all plastics from packaging for consumer-related products to be plastic-free in 2021.

It has also selected paper foam to pack the recently launched Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box. Replacing blister packs with paper-based box packaging. Will be sequenced across our product portfolio and different regions, starting with LED bulbs in Europe in the third quarter of 2020, and the rest of the world following from the start of 2021.

Tell us in detail about your UV-C lighting. Are there market sectors that Signify is yet to penetrate?

Signify has been at the forefront of UV technology for more than 35 years. We have a proven track record of innovation in UV-C lighting, which is designed, manufactured and installed in line with the highest safety standards. The COVID-19 pandemic has created fundamental shifts in consumer behaviour and needs. Advanced hygiene standards and minimal contact have become a priority for everyone at home and work. There has been a sudden increase in demand for UV-C products and services across businesses and for personal consumption. The Philips UV-C Disinfection system can quickly and effectively disinfect objects of daily use in homes, such as fruits and vegetables, packaged food, keys, mobile phones, stationery, laptops, and baby products. Although exposure to UV-C radiation can result in damage to the skin and eyes of both humans and animals, however, Philips UV-C Disinfection system has been designed to be completely safe for home use. The system is designed and manufactured in India and will be available here first before a phased launch in other markets of the world.

Keeping up with the demands we have actively invested in this area and have launched a B2C product (Philips UV-C Disinfection system) and expanded our B2B portfolio with 12 new families of UV-C-based products for professional markets.

How are you managing the production of lighting accessories and transportation in the ongoing pandemic?

The spread of the coronavirus has an unprecedented impact on the world and is still unfolding. The global economy will recover from this, but first, it will endure a significant short-term impact, which could ripple into 2021 depending on the country’s success to manage the spread of the virus. About 98% of what we sell in India is made in India. We don’t depend on China for finished goods. 60% of the components that we use are sourced from India and the rest 40% come from all over the world, including from China. These components are used by various industries such as electronics, smartphones and consumer goods and not just lighting manufacturers, and with further restrictions on tariff, most of these companies will get affected. Fortunately Signify India gets insulated from this because our teams have had started sourcing components from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand and other emerging Asian economies to reduce dependency on China. However, getting this to scale will take some time.