WASHINGTON As advances in light-emitting diode technology push it into the commercial realm, component distributors are retooling their operations to help rewire buildings to take advantage of its energy-saving capabilities.
Electronic component distributor Avnet Inc. has committed new resources to the emerging "illumination market" with the creation of an engineering team that helps businesses rewire their offices and operations for LED lighting. "LED technology is our major focus," said Dave Neal, an Avnet illumination engineer and head of the distributor's team of "illumineers."
Most of Avnet's lighting customers want to buy LED lighting and subassemblies, but don't know what infrastructure is needed and how to get it built. "We basically bridge that gap" to provide packaged solutions, Neal said. His team of illumineers consult with customers about their requirements, then design a solution that starts with the LED light fixture all the way to the power supply and wiring. Avnet engineers select the appropriate materials and always look for ways to dissipate heat.
"Heat is the biggest concern" with LED lighting, Neal stressed.
High-powered, pure-white LEDs are the primary focus of Avnet's engineering effort for applications like machine vision and inspection systems. Hotels and casinos are also integrating LEDs into their operations to save on energy costs. Outdoor lighting is another growing application since LED lighting can be better controlled than current lighting systems and is more energy efficient when operating over long periods of time.
"The challenge is to get customers to use [LED] technology in their designs," Neal said.
Among Avnet's LED suppliers are Seoul Semi, Osram, Luminous Devices and Everlite.
Avnet's team of illumineers also underscores how electronics distribution is evolving from merely supplying components to providing customers with design services for installing energy-efficient technologies. Neal said the LED model could easily be transferred to related technologies like solar and other renewable energy applications.
The company won't say how many engineers are working on the LED supply chain and design effort, but Neal called it a small but growing part of the distributor's business. For now, they are focusing on industrial and commercial customers. While LED lighting may find its way into kitchen work areas, for example, Neal says that, at least for now, the residential market for LEDs is "a little bit of a long throw."