Top 20 of 2022: News reflects swings in LED application focus to counter supply and demand concerns

Dec. 21, 2022
Big players such as ams Osram, Lumileds, Cree LED, Signify, and GE Lighting continued to make moves designed to balance price pressures, supply-chain challenges, and shifting market priorities.

Our annual analysis of website content trends demonstrated the continuing reliance upon news about bigger players among LED component suppliers and lighting manufacturers to determine where and what type of business challenges and opportunities exist. While we’re quite sure that everyone is tired of hearing it, economic and supply-chain impacts of the pandemic continue to linger, even as conflict between Russia and Ukraine have added further pressures to both energy and transport sectors in 2022.

Many of our most-read stories revolved around the business divestment activities of ams Osram in its pursuit of a more photonics-technology centric organization, as well as Signify’s and Cree LED’s financial and operations strategies to build on emerging applications as well as renewed interest in lighting efficacy that aims to help commercial and industrial customers manage their energy costs.

Our own brand has navigated a sea of change this year, with the retirement of former chief editor Maury Wright that brought editorial director Wanda Lau to join us; welcoming new colleagues to the fold with acquisitions in the communications, buildings, and lighting space; working with new events such as LightSPEC West; and an entirely new partnership model in facilitating the Resilient Harvests Conference. While they may not be the top coverage by LEDs Magazine in 2022, these new developments have helped to shape our strategy and focus our resources on delivering thought leadership informed by a full end-to-end connection from components and enabling technology through finished SSL products to lighting and controls integration in installed projects.

As in recent years, several related stories have been combined into our top 10 commentary that follows.

Top 20 articles of 2022

1. Dutch propagator dials down the new lights because they’re too effective

Tomato grower Westlandse Plantenkwekerij served up new lighting from Texas-based horticultural luminaire developer Fluence — which joined Signify’s organization within the past year — and found that not only were its plants exhibiting greater quality but that it could ultimately reduce the amount of high-energy-consuming HPS lighting it had previously relied upon in order to moderate the growth cycle of the tomatoes.

2. Ams Osram to spend nearly a billion dollars on new LED plant

As it continues to pursue advances in chip-level operations, ams Osram announced that it plans to build out additional Malaysia plant capacity for LEDs and micro LEDs. As was the case in 2021, to bolster these expansion plans, the Austria-based company has sold off more of its finished SSL product operations, including architectural and façade lighting business Traxon Technologies, as well as its Digital Systems Eurasia division that produces LED drivers, in 2022. Finally, we just learned while collecting this Top 20 report that ams Osram has delivered on its promise to divest the Clay Paky entertainment lighting group “strengthening the focus on core technology areas” of optical solutions for sensing, illumination, and visualization systems.

3. Bankrupt Healthe owes its UV-C supplier and its billionaire owner

A bit of surprise news for us this past year was the declaration of bankruptcy by pioneering circadian lighting firm Healthe Inc. Although the company filed for Chapter 7 in December 2021, it continued to make news with the names of creditors and amounts owed. The company’s financial challenges only came to our attention after it refocused its business development priorities to UV-C disinfection technologies after nearly 20 years of work in circadian lighting.

4. When it rains, it pours: GE Lighting launches a raft of cost-saving moves

GE Lighting was forced to make some difficult financial moves early this year as it closed down U.S. lamp manufacturing operations and sold its ownership in its Nela Park campus under the direction of corporate owner Savant Systems. Although GE hadn’t ceased manufacturing of fluorescent and halogen products, those operations moved offshore like many others due to declining demand and energy efficiency regulations pushing them out of the U.S. market.

5. Slideshow: LEDs Magazine hands out 2022 BrightStar ‘hardware’

Although the slideshow format isn’t a typical news report, its popularity certainly capped our satisfaction with the revamped awards program. Having modified our name and approach to recognition, we were pleased to get such an enthusiastic response from the 2022 recipients we met with in person at LightFair — and hope to see more familiar names as well as new firms making their mark on the LED and lighting industry in the future. By the way, the 2023 BrightStar Awards submissions remain open until  Jan. 31, 2023, so make sure to organize your materials and get those entries in.

6. TK Elevator’s new headquarters features a massive LED display

Wanda Lau described the technology behind a dynamic color-changing graphical display encasing the elevator company’s 28-story building, and noted that the mesh of hundreds of thousands of LEDs were hooded to reduce light pollution while output can be carefully controlled to reduce energy consumption.

7. Lumileds seeks financial restructuring for growth

In a year full of economic challenges, Lumileds launched into action to reduce its debt and seek recapitalization through a prepackaged Chapter 11 plan this past summer. As expected, the LED developer emerged from the financial restructuring with business operations intact but under new investor ownership.

8. Signify reveals reduced demand for UV-C products aimed at surfaces

Back in the summer, contributor Mark Halper reported Signify’s second-quarter financial results showed a downturn in customer interest toward surface-focused UV-C disinfection products. When we described the “obsolescence” of the UV-C products in question, Signify representatives reached out to clarify that the use of that term by CEO Eric Rondolat referred to an accounting designation, “a write-down of part of the value of [company] inventory” that resulted from having higher levels of inventory on hand than predicted demand for the products. Regardless, the August story corroborates earlier evidence of Signify customer awareness that air disinfection systems showed more promise.

9. Cree LED sales ‘up substantially,’ says parent CEO

An early January report gave us a new pulse on Cree LED since its development activities have gone quieter under parent Smart Global Holdings. “LED Solutions” reported $111.9 million in sales for its first fiscal quarter of 2022. A month later, SGH CEO Mark Adams told Halper that with a more “under the radar” approach to the LED business, Cree LED was focusing its energy on “designing our products specifically for customer needs” rather than pumping out “commodity products for consumer goods.” Going into the fall, we learned that Gregg Lowe would take over as president of Cree LED as Claude Demby prepared to retire.

10. Outdoor LED lighting could be increasing our overall energy use

In a report released this year, the International Dark-Sky Association summarized the state of artificial light at night, based on a review of scientific literature studying the changes in artificial light levels including region-specific increases, concluding that a “re-bound effect” has unintentionally resulted from increased on-time and uncontrolled light spill from more energy-efficient lighting installations.

11. Photos from space affirm that streetlights are emitting more blue spectra

University of Exeter scientists report that the shift to LEDs is exposing both humans and ecosystems to what may be detrimental quantities of certain light frequencies.

12. The bulb is dead! Long live the bulb! GE introduces fancy new ones

At CES in January, GE Lighting owner Savant continued to boost the profile of its connected lighting products.

13. Will laser Li-Fi leave LED in the dust?

On our blog, we offered a news-based analysis of the moves by Li-Fi proponents that could drive more commercial interest in the light-based communications technology, whether laser or LED supported.

14. LED and lighting CEOs: No letup in sight for supply chain woes

In early quarterly reports, executives at Acuity, Zumtobel, and Cree LED parent SGH all invoked measures to help offset a supply-chain situation that showed signs of worsening without some new strategies.

15. The other side of UV: It grows things, too

Austin, Texas–based Fluence teamed with New Zealand–based agricultural technology specialist BioLumic to deliver UV recipes, developed by BioLumic, via Fluence lighting hardware and systems.

16. Biologically tuned lighting slashes falls at senior care homes

According to a Harvard University study, senior care residents were much steadier on their feet because installed tunable circadian lighting facilitated better sleep and wake cycles, fostering alertness.

17. Déjà vu: Signify says WiZ lamps will soon interoperate with many other smart home devices

The cross-industry alliance that has been developing the Matter protocol has at long last completed it, so companies like Signify, Amazon, and others can now proceed. But what about Hue?

18. New UV standard targets component testing for performance optimization

In 2022, IES and IUVA announced the availability of LM-92-22, a jointly developed standard outlining a measurement technique for UV-LED performance that should help drive consistency of characterization data for disinfection sources.

19. Fluence adds cannabis luminaire for the home grower

The SPYDR Fang delivers 1,600-μmol/s photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) for “craft growers and home hobbyists,” according to CEO David Cohen.

20. Signify expands Ultra Efficient LED line

With customers’ attention on rising energy prices, the LED lighting provider added a dozen new lamps and luminaires that it claims are 50% more efficient than its standard LED offerings.

Compare our last several years’ trends

Top 20 stories of 2021 indicate market pushes beyond UV

Top 20 reflects coronavirus concerns, companies in flux during 2020

Top 20 reveals 2019 as a business re-building year

CARRIE MEADOWS is managing editor of LEDs Magazine, with more than 20 years’ experience in business-to-business publishing across technology markets including solid-state technology manufacturing, fiberoptic communications, machine vision, lasers and photonics, and LEDs and lighting.

For up-to-the-minute LED and SSL updates, follow us on Twitter. You’ll find curated content and commentary, as well as information on industry events, webcasts, and surveys on our LinkedIn page and our Facebook page.

About the Author

Carrie Meadows | Editor-in-Chief, LEDs Magazine

Carrie Meadows has more than 20 years of experience in the publishing and media industry. She worked with the PennWell Technology Group for more than 17 years, having been part of the editorial staff at Solid State Technology, Microlithography World, Lightwave, Portable Design, CleanRooms, Laser Focus World, and Vision Systems Design before the group was acquired by current parent company Endeavor Business Media.

Meadows has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards, and has volunteered as a judge on several B2B editorial awards committees. She received a BA in English literature from Saint Anselm College, and earned thesis honors in the college's Geisel Library. Without the patience to sit down and write a book of her own, she has gladly undertaken the role of editor for the writings of friends and family.

Meadows enjoys living in the beautiful but sometimes unpredictable four seasons of the New England region, volunteering with an animal shelter, reading (of course), and walking with friends and extended "dog family" in her spare time.