Lighting the way

05 Jan 2011
Port Strategy: Finding the correct light levels allows for the safe handling of goods and equipment without compromising safety

Finding the correct light levels allows for the safe handling of goods and equipment without compromising safety

John Bensalhia looks at the latest products, trends, financial and safety elements of port lighting

When it comes to ports, one of the most crucial elements is that of lighting.

Port lighting is vital to the safety and the security of port operations. Good quality, reliable illumination allows successful navigation on the waters and people to find their way along jetties, docks and terminals - something that's particularly important either at night or during poor weather conditions.

George Steele, senior consultant of maritime and ports at URS/Scott Wilson says: "Lighting is provided for safe working in a port and is fundamental to the safe and secure operation of a port facility for both vehicular and foot traffic. The correct light levels are required to avoid simple trip and slip hazards to personnel and the safe handling of goods and equipment that exists in a busy port environment."

There are many suppliers for port lights - the top brands including GE, Phillips, Prismalence, Phosco, Sill, Abacus, Thorn, Holophane, Urbis and Rudd. Natasha Boukhary, global corporate communications manager at DP World says that the company goes for a wide ranging mix of suppliers for different requirements. "Typically we would go for products such as Phillips Comfortvision SNF111 MB 600W (or 1000W) SON. However, now we are starting to engage with suppliers of alternative low energy consumption products such as Prismalence.

"For new stevedoring equipment lighting, DP World has standardised the supplier and opted for energy saving Prismalence," continues Ms Boukhary. "While for refurbishment of existing stevedoring equipment, DP World uses where possible Prismalence lights."

So what are the common factors that ports look for when selecting lighting products? Aside from quality, reliability and power, ports also look at distribution vs energy consumption, light pollution, size of fittings and accessories, bulb life, and low maintenance.

Another important issue - especially in an economically challenging climate is that of value for money. "It will depend on individual circumstances of each installation as to what represents good value for money," says Mr Steele. "The companies who do not offer good value for money are those who offer cheap alternatives whilst claiming they provide an equal or equivalent, specification to those supplied by reputable suppliers. In the end the products that can be said to offer ‘good value for money’ are those that provide the longest life and exceed the required specification."

Ms Boukhary adds that, more specifically, high pressure sodium lamps still represent value in low quantities, or in countries where import duties and taxes are high as they can generally be procured in country. However, new build terminals are identified as providing opportunities for low energy consumption productions and where power utility rates are expensive. With regard to stevedoring equipment, Prismalence lights represent good value for money. "Other LED lighting solutions are coming to the market by way of industrial port applications and no doubt will be good comparable solutions,” says Ms Boukhary.

“Energy saving lighting solutions are, of course, more expensive, but depending on location and cost of energy, the returns on investment are very favourable,” she adds. “The current economic climate has not deterred people from looking closely at energy saving lighting solutions, especially when coupled with environmental wins/responsibilities, the overall package is attractive enough to obtain a ports commitment.”

Mr Steele comments that there are other common issues with regards to costs and value for money. For example, there is the need to balance the number and type of fittings to achieve the required regulatory lighting levels, as stated in the Dock Regulations, whilst considering typical port ‘obstacles’ like container stacks, buildings and landside and quayside cranes.

“The balance between required lighting output with the optimum number of masts/lamps is an important factor to consider in order to minimise or avoid the flexible use of yard stacking and quayside areas,” he adds. “As is the optimisation of a port layout and balancing the number of masts/lamps whilst considering the cable feeds/pits/ducts infrastructure.”

Port operators look carefully at the lighting levels considered necessary to run a facility to ensure that the correct lighting levels are being used and over illumination is being avoided. The opportunities afforded by improved lighting control are also emerging to reduce lighting output thus saving energy costs when full output is not required. To this end, port operators are prepared to consider alternative suppliers for both lighting equipment and the supply of energy.

“Although consideration is generally given to the cost of electricity in the current economic climate, operators have become more aware of the real link between the lighting levels required, energy efficient lamps and the cost of electricity,” says Mr Steele.

Health and safety is another element that port operators must consider. Safety requirements when dealing with electrical installations need to be taken into consideration. In addition, port operators should consider access for maintaining the lights – especially those for high masts.

There is also the risk of light pollution to take into account. Some locations have strict controls regarding light pollution and solutions such as Prisma all but eliminate light pollution by controlling the light directly to the ground with minimal loss through light pollution. LED lighting by design will provide the same benefits.

“This can be a very sensitive issue particularly when there are residential areas close or adjacent to a port,” says Mr Steele. “It is a matter of growing importance and there are strong environmental concerns about light spillage, light ‘trespass’ and glare.

“Very careful design of the layout, height of masts and selection of lamp fittings is required to mitigate light pollution. In some circumstances the use of lamp shades to cut down extraneous upward light spillage may be required.”

So what of the current trends in port lighting? Terminals are looking at various low cost low energy lighting solutions. Suppliers are also becoming more prominent in the offering of their solutions. There are accurate assessments of and specifications for the required light levels, plus better assessments to make sure that the correct fittings are used for durability and ease of maintenance. Add to that lower energy strategies, and an awareness of environmental requirements to mitigate light pollution, and it's easy to conclude that today's port lighting products are committed to offering the highest quality, environmentally friendly solutions and excellent value.

 

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