UKCW Birmingham: 1-3 October 2024 | NEC
UKCW London: 6-8 May 2025 | ExCeL


Retrofitting indoor lighting in the aerospace industry

15 Mar 2022
Aerospace is an industry sector which continues to grow and requires superior quality of manufactured components

Retrofitting lighting does not have to be expensive

A usual solution preferred by our customers is subsidies for these CAPEX projects. We support the entire retrofitting project in collaboration with our partners to ensure its performance under conditions convenient to the project owner. It is important that the savings generated by replaced light luminaires offset the full costs of retrofitting with cost efficiency for the project owner.

Challenges of artificial illumination retrofitting in the aerospace industry

Replacement of artificial lights with the manufacturing processes online and compliance with all safety requirements. How can one ensure the optimum quality of light in areas with obstructed access?

During a number of similar retrofitting projects, we tackled many challenges of providing high quality of light and related to the very process of replacing light luminaires.

The production of aircraft, which include aeroplanes, and of the components used to build aircraft, require high precision of manufacturing; hence, the illumination of work stations in the aerospace sector is critical. The production shop floor areas include: work inside of aircraft during assembly, paint cabins, and manufacturing lines. Each area is unique in its characteristics and requires a very specific type of light luminaires.

We were challenged by providing the optimum quality of illumination in these processing areas, as they impose very stringent requirements on our light luminaires and illumination parameters. The work stations which process:

  • coating of components (like paint cabins) now provide better working conditions thanks to the additional illumination improved by us; this makes preservation and colour-coating of components in extreme processing conditions much easier, and the light luminaires we used here are ATEX-certified;

  • complex components were retrofitted with floor-mounted light luminaires for easier and more comfortable precision work in previously shaded areas.

Aerospace manufacturing and other industrial corporations cannot afford interruption of operations due to retrofitting of lights at their facilities. Any interruption in operations would incur losses comparable in size to the potential energy savings enabled by retrofitting of lights. In aerospace manufacturing, installation of new lights in production areas is difficult due to:

The installation height in hard to reach places

The installation is done by our experienced fitters, also with industrial rope access techniques

The installation of luminaires during online production processes

The installation which cannot interrupt the production of sensitive aerospace components or operation of other shop floor machines, like gantry cranes – we carry out light luminaire retrofits with special attention to the safety of on-site personnel and components in production

Work in hazardous conditions

Example: the installation work over open vats of aqueous solutions of chemicals is optimally protected and the fitters use dedicated protective suits

Given these challenges, we rely on the experience and planning of our project coordinators to provide an optimised installation work plan for each project that will minimise interference with the regular operations of the project owner’s business. As proven by our experience, even the best plan cannot consider all variables that may occur at the work site. It is why we focus on communication right from the start to ensure quick and binding decision making. We manage each project in collaboration with its owner and the project partner under our project management system for streamlined and exact direction over all work tasks.

Illumination for aerospace manufacturing – project delivery and the solutions

Thanks to the experience of our experts, we can identify the potential challenges to the installation, servicing, and safety of artiticial lighting in work areas regulated by special requirements. For each business that is our customer and project owner, we develop a detailed project delivery manual as the reference work statements for the whole retrofitting process.

Audit and its conclusions – their meaning in practical terms 

The first step of the project is an on-site visit to understand the actual conditions of the locations which will have the lights retrofitted. Based on the on-site visit findings and the comments from the project owner,

Retrofit design – we present the solutions which help maximise the savings on electrical power.

Our Design Department considers all on-site preconditions, which may include the dimensions of work stations, the light installation height, and the local ambient conditions (like suspended dust and chemical contaminants) and starts to specify the right type of lights. This is what drives the selection of specific light luminaires for each work station. The light luminaires specified most often due to the specific nature of work processes in aerospace manufacturing include:
Ultima:LED, Industrial:LED, Highbay:LED, Skylight:LED.

Lights bespoke as required

To maximise the electrical power savings, we adapt each performance parameter of light luminaires to the specific conditions at their places of use. Fore example, one project required a custom luminous flux of the Industrial:LED luminaires with derating the wattage to produce the required illuminance level for each work station. Each work station varied in height and the required illumination level. Hence, we delivered 6 different types of the Industrial:LED.

Smart lighting control – the DALI system 

Large industrial floors with many skylights often have daylight illumination level sensors installed on request of project owners. The sensors are networked over the DALI protocol to maintain the indoor illuminance level at standard specifications all the time. By application of the smart lighting control system, the shop floor interior receives much light on sunny days and the light sources have the illumination level reduced accordingly. This way the work areas are not overexposed by light and the operating costs are lower.

LED luminaires dedicated to industry trades, or customised products and project approach!

For the specific nature of work operations in certain areas, our R&D Department can design completely new lights with dedicated solutions and functionalities.

One of our projects included floor-mounted lights which is set into the surface walked over by work operators and requires more frequent servicing. It was a considerable challenge which our R&D engineers tackled by developing the Floorlight LED design from scratch, distinguished by a modular construction for the on-site maintenance to replace the light components with ease. This considerably reduces the costs of servicing and operation of the lights, coupled with reduced electrical power consumption and the assurance of the required illumination performance at the work station.

Artificial lights for spray painting cabins must conform to certain requirements for the safety of failure of any electronic components of a lamp. This issue was solved by us with the development of the all-new Industrial:LED luminaire compliant with the stringent ATEX certification requirements and dedicated for operation in Ex-zones.

The CLO function which maintains the preset illuminance level for a long period of operating life

When retrofitting artificial lighting with LEDs, it must be noted that every light source will degrade over time. During its operating life, the light source luminous flux is gradually reduced due to a natural process of wear, and it is prudent to consider what the luminous output will be after several or more than ten years of operation. Example: if a work station requires a minimum illuminance level of 300 lx, which is the output of brand-new lights on the same day of their installation, the output will be lower than expected now after a few years of operation. To avoid this, we suggest choosing the LED luminaires with the power supply which features CLO (Constant Lumen Output). CLO will maintain a steady, specification-compliant lumen output on the work surface for a minimum of the first years of operation.

The benefits of LED retrofitting for the aerospace industry

  • High savings on power consumption by lights → up to 70%
  • Fast ROI → already less than in 2 years
  • Self-financing of the retrofitting project with the generated energy bill savings
  • Comprehensive project support: illumination auditing, design engineering, financing, and installation, with post-installation servicing and maintenance
  • Professional assistance in light source specifications for the areas of application
  • Non-invasive and safe installation of lights
  • Assurance of uniform light distribution also in areas with obstructed access
  • Safe operation of light luminaires
  • Reliable performance in the warranty period
  • Up to 10 years of warranty for light luminaires
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