For Glamox, the next stage of IoT could be blowing in the wind

Nov. 7, 2022
The Norwegian LED lighting company is building up an already significant presence in marine and offshore activities, among other sectors.

The LED industry has been hearing the phrase “beyond lighting” for the better part of a decade. But here’s a new twist on it: If you illuminate an offshore wind farm, don’t simply provide the luminaires and controls. Rather, help the energy company optimize the operation of the turbines.

That’s the sort of thing that the new CEO of Glamox has in mind, as she considers how to parlay her strong background in information technology into IoT (Internet of Things) lighting opportunities for the privately held Oslo-based lighting company.

In an interview with LEDs Magazine, Astrid Simonsen Joos acknowledged that the lighting industry in general has struggled somewhat in its IoT efforts to outfit the lighting infrastructure with sensors and communication chips that collect and transmit data, providing valuable analytical insight for businesses and governmental entities.

While vendors are indeed selling more sophisticated, connected lighting control systems, many of the intended nonlighting aspects of these systems have not yet taken off in a big way. (For example, there has not been a rush among commercial office users to gather lighting-based data that informs them on how to optimize space utilization of their premises). Other lighting bosses, such as Fagerhult’s Bodil Sonesson, Signify’s Eric Rondolat, and Acuity’s Neil Ashe have made similar observations.

But that’s not to say they have lost hope.

“There is an opportunity,” said Simonsen Joos, who joined Glamox in August. “But you need to think even more out of the box.”

Certainly, helping offshore wind farms to better ascertain things such as how to position the angle of blades would count as out of the box.

It helps that Glamox already has a strong and growing presence in the maritime and offshore wind sectors, from which the roughly €330 million company currently derives about 25% of its revenue, eventually growing to 40% in Simonsen Joos’ estimation.

Glamox outfits commercial and naval vessels with LED lighting, and is increasingly selling to offshore wind farms and the vessels that build and service them. It’s a potentially solid growth market. Canadian/Indian market research firm Precedence Research estimates that the global offshore wind energy market will grow at a compound annual rate of nearly 19% to $129 billion by 2030 from $27.33 billion in 2021.

The lighting opportunities alone associated with that expansion should be significant. Glamox estimates that a wind farm of about 60 turbines (which is perhaps in the small-to-medium category) requires about 10,000 to 13,000 light points, including turbines as well as substations and support and construction vessels.

An IoT service stream on top of that could facilitate an even stronger business scenario.

Exactly what IoT role Glamox would play with offshore wind farms remains to be seen. The role might potentially involve some amount of sensor deployment that might, for example, note wind or other conditions, and then help determine when and how to rotate the angle of wind blades. It’s the sort of thing that wind farms are constantly trying to improve. Whether or not a lighting company could be a vital provider in that regard — as opposed to, say, another sort of technology company — is an open question.

“These are the things that, at this stage, it’s important for me to work a bit closer with the infrastructure companies, the windmill companies, the ecosystem, in understanding the needs they have,” Simonsen Joos told LEDs.

One thing for certain is that, turbine operation or not, Simonsen Joos has a resolute intention of expanding IoT offerings in general at Glamox. She brings a rich background in IT to the company. Having previously headed digital transformation at Signify, and having worked at Microsoft for 13 years, she now has a strong notion of mixing sensors, communications, and software into the company’s service offerings.

“We will continue to accelerate this journey for Glamox,” she said.

LEDs will bring you more thoughts from Simonsen Joos and her IoT reflections later this week.

MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).

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About the Author

Mark Halper | Contributing Editor, LEDs Magazine, and Business/Energy/Technology Journalist

Mark Halper is a freelance business, technology, and science journalist who covers everything from media moguls to subatomic particles. Halper has written from locations around the world for TIME Magazine, Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Guardian, CBS, Wired, and many others. A US citizen living in Britain, he cut his journalism teeth cutting and pasting copy for an English-language daily newspaper in Mexico City. Halper has a BA in history from Cornell University.