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Business Lighting Solutions (BLS) is eyeing up lucrative growth opportunities, as the innovative New Zealand-based LED lighting manufacturer launches a new product line targeting the global food processing industry.
BLS Commercial Director, Paul Stoddart, said the company’s new patented product ‘Soffito™’ was poised to revolutionize lighting in food production areas – an industry conservatively valued at over $1 trillion USD.
The product has already stirred up significant interest amongst the food processing industry in New Zealand, in advance of its release later this month.
Stoddart said Soffito answers a number of key issues within the industry that were identified by BLS, following ongoing discussions with leading food processors aimed at better understanding the challenges and problems they face with current lighting solutions.
“We found that most customers were using highly inefficient metal halide light fixtures, basically a tin box with a prismatic lens,” Stoddart said.
“This type of fitting is highly-inefficient because it relies on outdated metal halide technology and suffers further losses through poorly designed lenses.”
The only option available to the industry for decades, it failed to keep pace with technology and address key issues around maintenance, performance and importantly hygiene. Using the organisation’s wealth of experience with LED lighting, BLS fast-tracked an interim retrofit solution which was well received by its food production clients.
“Despite that initial success, whilst convenient, the retro-fit solution still relied on the old outdated lens and was not operating at its maximum potential efficiency.

Furthermore, the ongoing problems around performance and hygiene were still present.”

Regardless, the BLS design team headed by seasoned designer Chris Wheatley was confident that it could produce a world-class alternative utilizing its combined skills and expertise.
“Chris is an intuitive designer whose work is firmly embedded in European-style functional aesthetics. An alumni of the RCA London which has produced many of the world’s top designers, Chris looks at old problems through new eyes, ensuring that our products feature the latest technology and innovation.”
Stoddart said while function and simplicity is core to the BLS product, it required significant investment in terms of tooling, design-work, sourcing of new materials and creative thinking to develop what appears to be a “quantum leap” in relative efficiency.
“We took a collaborative approach during development, working with clients who shared a vested interest in a successful future-proofed solution to understand the problems and issues with their legacy systems.”
As the BLS team set to work on the project, it quickly became apparent that the legacy fittings varied considerably in size and how they were installed.
“The new product clearly needed to be adaptable and address a range of complex issues relating to installation and practicality without compromising efficiency.”
Stoddart said the solution involved taking a mixed materials approach.
“We used a high performance, fire-retardant and chemical resistant plastic for the body, with an aluminium heatsink to reduce thermal load and optimise LED performance and longevity. The resultant low operating temperature provides an additional benefit by reducing the load on HVAC systems in temperature-controlled environments.
“The functional design of Soffito means that it easily adapts to form a tight impervious seal in ceilings. It’s protected against chemicals and wash down cycles, preventing the build-up of highly resistant bacteria – an issue with legacy light fixtures and a core point of difference with our new product.”
A lens designed specifically for the LED light source, softens the light to eliminate glare and avoid shadows around complex machinery. The result is an elegant and functional design that delivers in every way.
“Soffito is also highly efficient. It saves in excess of 70 per cent on energy, without losing light output. It delivers glare-free colour-rich light which improves productivity and the quality of life for those working in environments that are generally devoid of natural light.”
New Zealand companies will be the first in the world to benefit from the new design, with a number of blue chip organisations having already signed up in advance for product installations.
AFFCO CEO, Rowan Ogg, said the organization was an early adopter of BLS LED lighting solutions and had worked closely with them, as part of its commitment to improving the workplace environment for staff, reducing carbon footprint and achieving significant energy savings.
"AFFCO engineering staff were consulted regularly at a range of facilities, during the development of both the initial retro-fit and Soffito products,” Stoddart said.
He said meeting and surpassing AFFCO’s lighting needs whilst overcoming operational challenges common across the industry were a key input into the BLS design and development process.
“We’re starting first and foremost with New Zealand organisations like AFFCO and delivering real design innovation to the business community that has been so supportive of our efforts. Beyond that export opportunities beckon with interest coming from Australia, the USA and EU.”
Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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