Emergency, Feature

Global technology leader in emergency lighting launches new UK operation

Emergency lighting is one of those bedrock regulatory compliance activities you know you must do (and do well because lives depend on it), but with competing priorities battling for your attention, it can feel like a time-consuming, expensive and rather thankless chore.

So, what would make your life easier?

What about a 100 per cent safe and environmentally-friendly battery technology that won’t need replacing for 10-plus years? What about a fully automatic monitoring and testing system that generates maintenance and compliance reports on demand via an app?

For those involved in emergency lighting across the UK, you’re in luck. Clevertronics, the answer to all your emergency lighting concerns, has just opened operations in London.

Clevertronics design, supply and manufacture emergency lighting and automated monitoring systems. The company has a reputation for innovation and are global pioneers of Lithium Nanophosphate battery technology, which they launched in 2012.

Michael Klarenaar is the National Projects Manager and says the company’s success is reflected by its market share. “We deliver 70% of the project market in Australia, i.e. bespoke designs for large buildings that include the Sydney Opera House, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and major hospitals and shopping centres nationwide,” he says.

“At the Etihad Stadium, now the Marvel Stadium, we partnered with facilities manager Honeywell to replace the emergency lighting and monitoring system and achieved a remakable 83.5 per cent (£480,000) maintenance saving.”

The first thing Michael Duce, Clevertronics National Systems and Engineering Manager, wants to do is set the record straight on lithium battery technology. “There’s still a certain amount of misinformation in the UK and Europe about lithium batteries, but it’s beginning to subside as we present solid, technical justifications for why it is suitable for emergency lighting,” he says.

As a lithium battery expert, Duce was invited by the International Electrotechnical Committee, IEC, to help Europe’s two key emergency lighting standards specifiy the proper requirements and selection criteria for lithium batteries. Clevertronics UK is also working with the UK’s Lighting Industry Association, LIA, and Industry Committee for Emergency Lighting, ICEL. “Our mission is to offer independent evidence and unbiased advice on the appropriate application of lithium batteries for emergency lighting,” says Duce.

As a core component of their products, Clevertronics is obviously keen to promote lithium batteries, but Duce explains they didn’t start with a lithium bias. “Our focus has always been developing safe, long-lasting, functional and cost-effective emergency lighting. Lithium, specifically lithium iron phosphate, is just where the research ended up leading.”

In 2009, during the LED revolution, Duce saw an opportunity to vastly increase the lifespan of Clevertronics emergency lighting products. He initiated a rigorous R&D process to discover the best battery composition to achieve this. “The more research we did, the more it became clear lithium iron phosphate was the solution we were looking for.”

Much of the fear surrounding lithium batteries is due to high-profile stories about self-combusting mobile phones and hoverboards, but Duce says it is important to remember that lithium isn’t a catch-all term. “There are literally dozens of lithium metal-based chemistries that can be used in batteries. We chose lithium iron phosphate because it has several important characteristics,” he says.

Firstly, lithium iron phosphate batteries are safe, reliable and stable when in a charged state, even at elevated temperatures. “The battery technology underpinning our L10 range releases only a small amount of heat and oxygen under abusive conditions and the chemistry used in the battery cells mean they do not exhibit the energetic thermal runaway that other metal oxide lithium ion cells experience.”

Secondly, lithium iron phosphate batteries have incredible longevity, outliving nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal-hydride counterparts by two- or threefold. “We’ve recorded hard evidence of the performance of our batteries over thousands of cycles going back as early as 2012. Our results far exceed anything we’ve seen before,” Duce continues.

Thirdly, nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal-hydride batteries are highly dangerous for the environment and human health while lithium is considered to be safe.

Steve Saville is the Technical and Project Support Manager for Clevertronics in the UK and says vastly reduced cost and ease of compliance are also major benefits.

Luminaire maintenance is by far the biggest outlay when it comes to emergency lighting. Most alternatives need to be replaced every 3-4 years. In comparison, Clevertronic’s most economical range of products (Economy Lithium) doubles that, while their top range (L10 Lithium Nanophosphate) triples it.

“We are able to save companies 80% of their maintenance costs and huge amounts of time in terms of compliance reporting. Our Zoneworks automated monitoring system, for example, provides diagnostic and reporting data for every fitting remotely, via an app,” he says.

“As a specialist in the field with an excellent pedigree, Clevertronics is a no brainer for UK facilities management teams looking to simplify their emergency lighting systems and save a lot of money in the process.”