LEDs business news: Current buys Forum; Acuity reports, UL and IoT

April 6, 2021
GE Current gains continuous linear and geometric SSL products and additional manufacturing facilities while Acuity reports solid quarterly results and UL grows its IoT program.

GE Current, a Daintree company, has announced the acquisition of Pittsburgh-based Forum Lighting — a specialist in architectural linear SSL and geometric luminaires that can be surface mounted or recessed. Acuity Brands has released financial results for Q2 of its 2021 fiscal year and said it has reached carbon neutrality across its operations. UL has announced the solid-state lighting (SSL) networked controls specialist Avi-on Labs as the first commercial lighting company to win UL’s top IoT (Internet of Things) security rating.

Current and Forum

Current apparently found great symbiotic value in Forum for two reasons leading to the acquisition. While Current offers many troffers and some linear fixtures, it lacked the incredible diversity of continuous linear capability that Forum has developed. Moreover, Forum has an established US-based manufacturing facility matching Current’s values and providing additional capacity and customization capability.

“Forum’s focus on providing high-quality linear solutions for architects, designers, and specifiers makes them the ideal partner to expand our lighting portfolio,” says Manish Bhandari, CEO of Current. “Forum’s values and customer-centric culture are well aligned with Current. Current will continue to invest in Forum to deliver new solutions, accelerating their growth.”

Meanwhile, the acquisition will provide Forum resources to grow its business and brand. “Current’s commitment brings the resources that will enable Forum Lighting to continue building on our success within the specification lighting market,” said Jonathan Garret, president of Forum. “We will be able to expand our product selection and reinforce our commitment to offering flexibility and product variation for specifiers, architects, and designers. We are very excited about this opportunity to advance our operational performance and marketing capability, and we are looking forward to working with the Current team to ensure a successful transition.”

It’s been a year and a quarter since Bhandari took over in the top management spot at Current. It has been a busy period for the company. Bhandari sold off the CityIQ IoT technology platform to Ubicquia. But he has led what seems to be a resurgence in lighting and also extended the company’s reach into germicidal ultraviolet lighting with a unique approach to the UV-C band.

Acuity charts financial improvement

Anyone looking for improving financial news during the continuing pandemic can find reasons for optimism in recent Acuity results. The company saw a net sales decline of 5.8% relative to Q2 2020. But remember that the pandemic was just being understood at the send of the March quarter a year ago. And recently we have heard that many companies in the LED and SSL sectors have been operating at a deficit nearer 25%.

Still, it’s other elements of the Acuity report that suggest a positive momentum is at work. Net income was up 10% as Acuity, among others, has raised prices. And operating profit was up just over 7%.

“I am very proud of our team for another quarter of solid performance. We continue to see signs of a modest recovery in the wider market, while our margin expansion reflects the hard work of our associates who continue to control costs in a more consistent and predictable way,” said Neil Ashe, CEO of Acuity Brands. “Earlier this month, we advanced our sustainability journey and highlighted our ongoing commitment to the environment, our people, and our communities, with the announcement that we had achieved carbon neutrality in our operations.”

UL IoT security certification

Moving to connected lighting, UL has spent the last couple of years working on IT or IoT security standards specifically related to lighting systems given that connected SSL systems could present vulnerabilities for commercial buildings. The company’s IoT Security Rating includes testing for compliance at multiple levels of protection. Avi-on is the first company to receive the Platinum Level of IoT Security.

“As part of UL’s decades of cybersecurity experience and rapidly growing IoT security practice, we are proud to recognize Avi-on Labs for earning the first Platinum level IoT Security Rating for a commercial lighting platform,” said Isabelle Noblanc, global vice president and general manager of UL’s Identity Management and Security division. “This Platinum level rating achievement helps verify the security due diligence Avi-on has built into their connected lighting products, helps demonstrate their cybersecurity posture to the marketplace, and empowers customers to make purchase decisions based on the security built into Avi-on connected lighting products.”

UL has also extended its IoT security reach into smart buildings. The company has collaborated with the Telecommunications Industry Association on a rating and assessment program.

LEDs Magazine chief editor MAURY WRIGHT is an electronics engineer turned technology journalist, who has focused specifically on the LED & Lighting industry for the past decade.

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About the Author

Maury Wright | Editor in Chief

Maury Wright is an electronics engineer turned technology journalist, who has focused specifically on the LED & Lighting industry for the past decade. Wright first wrote for LEDs Magazine as a contractor in 2010, and took over as Editor-in-Chief in 2012. He has broad experience in technology areas ranging from microprocessors to digital media to wireless networks that he gained over 30 years in the trade press. Wright has experience running global editorial operations, such as during his tenure as worldwide editorial director of EDN Magazine, and has been instrumental in launching publication websites going back to the earliest days of the Internet. Wright has won numerous industry awards, including multiple ASBPE national awards for B2B journalism excellence, and has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards. He received a BS in electrical engineering from Auburn University.