Philips Lumileds CEO moves to expand breadth of LED offerings (MAGAZINE)
Ella Shum interviews Philips Lumileds CEO Pierre Yves Lesaicherre, asking tough questions about the increasingly competitive LED market, Lumileds' plans for the future, and the challenge of serving a vertically-integrated lighting manufacturer and the commercial market.
This article was published in the October 2013 issue of LEDs Magazine.
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Preparing for the Strategies in Light (SIL) Japan conference, Strategies Unlimited packaged LED analyst and conference chair Ella Shum had a chance to ask Philips Lumileds CEO Pierre Yves Lesaicherre about the solid-state lighting (SSL) market, LED technology, and what Shum calls the "mommy dearest" relationship between Lumileds and parent Philips Lighting. Lumileds's senior director of segment marketing Ray Chock was expected to expand on these themes in a SIL Japan keynote on October 17, 2013 (sil-ledjapan.com).
LEDs Magazine: Since you came aboard, Lumileds seems to be in different spirits, which shows up in the new products. Can you talk to us about the changes that have taken place since January 2012?
Yves Lesaicherre: Lumileds has always been a technology leader and innovator in LEDs. In order to accelerate the rapid adoption of LEDs and strengthen Lumileds' position as an industry leader, we embarked on several key steps. 1) Expanding the Lumileds product portfolio to serve all lighting applications. Specifically, this meant also developing and offering mid-power and low-power LEDs, in addition to our leading high-power LED portfolio, and also expanding into flip-chip die sales. 2) Increasing investments in R&D to accelerate the number of products introduced to the market. 3) Adding deep semiconductor expertise to complement existing LED expertise, in order to drive world-class operational efficiency and cost improvements. 4) Growing our go-to-market channels by expanding the distribution network. 5) Launching several significant IT upgrades to ensure Lumileds has a world-class IT infrastructure.
LEDs Magazine: What is Lumileds' strategy in LEDs for lighting?
Lesaicherre: Lumileds intends to be the best LED supplier for lighting customers and is accomplishing this by offering a comprehensive portfolio of LEDs for lighting applications with over 130 products introduced in 2012 and over 250 targeted in 2013, offering the highest-efficacy LEDs such as Luxeon T and Luxeon M that are lm/W leaders; developing application-specific LEDs optimized for each application such as Luxeon M for outdoor, Luxeon S for retail Ceramic Discharge Metal-Halide (CDM) spot replacements, mid-power for A19 lamps, and low-power for [linear T8 replacements]; and providing the most complete applications and technical support to help customers develop optimal lighting fixtures. We have also strengthened our focus on Asia, and especially on serving the fast growth markets such as Japan, China, and Korea.
LEDs Magazine: How do you see the LED lighting market in three years? Many new players? Consolidation to a few big players?
Lesaicherre: We believe that the LED industry will indeed consolidate to a few large players who provide best-in-class efficacy, have a full portfolio of LED products for all major lighting applications, have manufacturing scale to provide cost reductions, and who truly understand the needs of lighting end users. In accordance with this, we continue to make strong investments in R&D to deliver a ~15% improvement in lm/W annually, have rapidly grown our product portfolio, and continue to deliver LEDs optimized to specific applications while significantly expanding our production capacity.
As the LED BOM [bill of materials] cost becomes a much smaller percentage of the overall system cost, LED unit cost reductions will become less important and differentiation will be driven by lm/W performance, which in turn will become much more critical. Lumileds will continue to make investments to deliver the highest lm/W in the industry.
Finally, most lighting segments today have only single-digit adoption of LEDs, so there is a huge growth opportunity ahead for the entire industry. In addition to higher penetration of LEDs into traditional lighting applications, we will also see several new innovative applications such as color tunability, intelligent controls, smart sensing, and connected lighting.
LEDs Magazine: LEDs are becoming a commodity. How does Lumileds see this trend toward commoditization?
Lesaicherre: A commodity product is one that has very little to no differentiation in the market and there is little supplier preference. LEDs are far from this state. LEDs are in fact becoming more specific to the application and require customization to best meet the needs of the specific lighting design. As examples, Lumileds developed Luxeon M targeted to outdoor applications and Luxeon S targeted to spotlights and CDM [replacements] — both have seen tremendous customer adoption and market success.
Even in commodity-like products such as mid-power, there is a premium in the market for higher performance; in fact, sophisticated customers prioritize better LED performance over lower unit cost. We intend to be a performance leader and will continue to drive differentiation in mid-power and low-power by supplying the most efficacious products.
LEDs Magazine: When I commented on the different strategies of the top LED companies, Lumileds was awarded "mommy dearest" status. What is the relationship with Philips Lighting? How do you balance the needs of internal and external customers?
Lesaicherre: Both Philips Lighting and Philips Lumileds are in absolute agreement that for Lumileds to be truly successful, Lumileds needs to have global scale and serve the entire market, not just Philips Lighting. Accordingly, for years Lumileds has served a truly global customer base in every region, several of whom are competitors of Philips Lighting. We will continue with this strategy of serving the entire lighting market.
To protect the confidentiality of both our global customers and of Philips Lighting, Lumileds has for several years maintained separate sales and applications support teams for these groups. There is a dedicated sales and applications support team to serve our global customers, and a separate dedicated team to serve Philips Lighting; these teams do not communicate or share any information with each other. We have successfully maintained this separation for several years to protect the confidentiality of all our customers. Proof of success lies with our hundreds of customers who choose Lumileds as their primary LED supplier in spite of these customers competing with Philips Lighting. We are committed to maintaining this way of operation and successfully serving a truly global and diverse customer base.
LEDs Magazine: While lighting always dominates the scene, Lumileds is one of the top players in camera flash and automotive LEDs. Can you talk about your product strategy in those two segments?
Lesaicherre: Since the founding of Philips Lumileds in 1999, automotive lighting has been one of the focus areas for Philips Lumileds. We pioneered the first wave of AlInGaP [aluminum indium gallium phosphide] LEDs with SnapLED and SuperFlux products and InGaN [indium gallium nitride] LEDs with Luxeon K2 and Luxeon Rebel, which enabled never-before-possible automotive LED functions such as [brake]lights and daytime-running lamps [DRLs].
Our passion for LEDs, combined with Philips' extensive knowledge in automotive lighting, has enabled us to offer LED packages that are designed from the ground up to exceed automotive requirements in terms of performance and reliability. In the next 12 months, Philips Lumileds will introduce a series of mid- and high-power automotive LEDs that will give our customers the flexibility they have always desired from the light source to achieve new and unique styling themes.
Luxeon F will offer all the high-performance aspects of Luxeon Rebel but with a package that is one-third the size of Luxeon Rebel and only half of the thermal resistance, targeting light-guide DRL and front turn signal, distributed low and high beam, matrix beam, and cost-effective front fog functions. We will also introduce the next-generation Luxeon Altilon with a performance exceeding 1000 hot lumens. With a focus on high performance at the stringent operating conditions in an automobile, Luxeon F and Luxeon Altilon will be the first automotive LEDs binned hot, which will greatly simplify customers' design processes.
Lumileds will also introduce new proliferations of SnapLED in red-orange and SnapLED Xtreme in Q3. SnapLED Xtreme offers a unique oval-batwing radiation pattern with an average of 45 lm, and will enable cost-effective, homogenously-lit tail function with the fewest number of LEDs. Finally, we will launch a surface-mount red-orange PLCC4 package with a low thermal resistance of 40K/W, high junction temperature of 135°C, and a minimum flux of 18 lm.
Lumileds is the leading supplier of LEDs for flash applications and continues to innovate in this area. Some of our recent product innovations include achieving greater than 300 lm while maintaining the best color over angle and lumen density in the industry, and enabling thinner LEDs and flash modules that enable our customers to achieve new, thinner form factors for their smartphones.
LEDs Magazine: What is Lumileds' strategy in Asia, especially in China, which is one of the biggest markets in the world?
Lesaicherre: Lumileds recognizes that the fastest-growing LED markets are in Asia, especially in China and Japan. As you may be aware, Lumileds has historically had a significant manufacturing footprint in Asia with a state-of-the-art wafer fab in Singapore and two back-end LED packaging factories in Penang, Malaysia.
Recently, we have significantly expanded our go-to-market channels in China and the rest of Asia by partnering with several leading, world-class distributors. We have also expanded our product portfolio to include products specifically targeted for the Chinese and Japanese markets. Finally, we have also significantly expanded our technical expertise in China by establishing a team of development engineers in Shanghai who support our customers with design expertise in optics, electronics, thermal, and system design.
LEDs Magazine: With Asian players dominating the mid-power space, how does Lumileds intend to compete in this arena?
Lesaicherre: Lumileds introduced its first mid-power product in early 2012, and in the subsequent 12 months, has expanded its mid-power family to include several products including one of the performance-leading products in the market, the Luxeon 3535L. We will continue to expand our mid-power product family and plan to introduce several additional products in the next few quarters.
As in high-power, Lumileds will win in mid-power by offering the highest efficacy products, by optimizing our LED products to specific lighting applications, and by aggressively reducing costs through scale and high volumes.
LEDs Magazine: Where does Lumileds see itself in 5 years?
Lesaicherre: We expect that the market will see significant growth in the adoption of LEDs in general lighting, in smartphones and other consumer devices, and in automotive applications. Indeed, LED penetration will be greater than 50% in several lighting segments such as streetlights and retrofit lamps, and double-digit growth will also continue in flash and automotive. The entire LED industry will be much larger than today, and Philips Lumileds will continue to be one of the leading global suppliers of LEDs.