Glowing reports: LED lamps, solar panels - there is a revolution going on in lighting towers.

12 November 2012

ArcGen's new Eco90 and SMC TL-90 Xtra lighting towers

ArcGen's new Eco90 and SMC TL-90 Xtra lighting towers

LED lamps, solar panels –there is a revolution going on in the lighting tower sector, as IRN reports.

There aren’t many products that are given the choice to reinvent themselves because of a step-change in technology, but that’s what has happened to the lighting tower sector.

Not only have LED lamps – typically replacing metal halide versions - now become economical enough (just about) to justify fitting to the end of a mast, but solar panels are also now efficient and robust enough (just about) to merit consideration.

This means that the last 18 months has seen an explosion of new towers with LED lamps or solar panels or a combination of these. Companies including Towerlight, ArcGen Hilta, Wanco, Youngman, AllightPrimax, Atlas Copco, Rental Service Europe (RSE), Terex Aerial Work Platforms and Bruno Generators are among those to have launched LED towers in the past 18 months.

LED lamps are popular not just because of their energy efficiency – an increasingly important feature of the modern day lighting tower - but because the lamps are less hot and last considerably longer than traditional lamps.

One recent entrant to the LED market is notable one, Atlas Copco Portable Energy. The company used the recent MINExpo in Las Vegas to introduce its QLTS light tower, which uses a solar panel linked to LED lamps. The panels charge the batteries during the day and the batteries run the lights during the hours of darkness: there is no engine, zero fuel use and no noise. Engine maintenance also becomes a thing of the past.

Atlas Copco says the “highly efficient” AGM batteries provide enough, reliable power to provide light “for days without requiring a charge.”

IRN understands that these towers are being produced for Atlas Copco by Wanco, the Denver, Colarado-based company that produces its own range of lighting towers, although Atlas Copco preferred not to comment. (In Europe, Netherlands-based Rental Service Europe (RSE) showed the Wanco solar-panel tower at Intermat earlier this year and is selling them in Europe.)

Chuck Westhofen, factory product manager at Atlas Copco Portable Energy’s Rock Hill facility in South Carolina, US, says; “We are confident that this next generation of portable lighting will have a positive impact on both the environment and our customers.”

The new QLTS towers – which will complement the company’s QLT series of diesel powered light towers, were made available for sale in the final quarter of 2012 in North and South America and for the rest of the world in early 2013.

One of the pioneers of solar powered lighting towers is Progress Solar Solutions, in Apex, North Carolina. The privately owned company is now expanding the options available on its solar powered towers with two new models incorporating wind turbines at the top of the tower to supplement the power generated by the solar panels.

Progress says these versions “are ideal in areas where the local area is somewhat solar challenged and there are average wind speeds of greater than 8 mph.” These hybrid units include the SLTW800 series and the SLTW1200, and they incorporate AC rapid chargers as a backup if needed.

In addition to the wind turbine option, Progress is also now offering remote performance monitoring technology through GPS – giving the user access to data such as location and battery voltage levels - and also LED lamps that can handle weather extremes. “For example, the new LED lights work well in freezing temperatures because the LEDs are close enough to the fixture lens to allow ice to melt”, says progress, “Historically this has caused problems with other LED light fixtures.”

The LED lights can also now be adjusted to high, medium and low settings with the flip of a switch.

The company says that since introducing the solar powered/batter towers in early 2010 it has expanded significantly to accommodate year-over-year growth; “Production capacity has also doubled in size over the last year with the addition of an additional production facility in the Raleigh, North Carolina area. Available Inventory on hand and faster turn-around time from time of purchase order to the time of shipment enables rental customers to meet challenging project timelines.”

The company’s towers each have two automated solar wings, adjustable for optimal energy absorption, and a large bank of “no maintenance” AGM deep-cycle batteries. Each light has four LED lights.

Also now offering LED lights is Youngman Group in the UK, with its Ecolite LED mobile lighting tower. The Ecolite LED is equipped with an array of 400 individual LEDs mounted across four adjustable holders providing a total light output of 91800 lumens. Developed in partnership with US company Green House Strategies, the Ecolite LED offers an ultra-low fuel consumption of just 0.65 litre/hr giving 145 hours continuous use on a single tank of diesel.

Youngman says the lamps are built to US military specification making them extremely robust. It also says the panel design, incorporating 100 individual prismatic lenses, “dramatically reduce the level of glare that can be a problem with some LED light sources”.

Also new is the Boxlight 2000 LED light tower from Bruno Generating Group (BGG), the UK business of Italy’s Bruno Generators. This is a boxed tower using four 500 W LED projectors providing a light output of 200000 lumens.

Mounted on a 9m hydraulic mast, the LED projectors can swivel, tilt, and rotate, while the mast itself can rotate 350 degrees.

Also new from the company is the Sitelight 986K-LED, using eight 250 W LED lights and powered by a 4 kVA Kohler engine, that Bruno says will use half the fuel than a conventional unit with four 1000 W metal halide lamps.

A variant on the LED lighting theme was launched last year by Terex Aerial Work Platforms. The company now supplies three LED options: the AL 4L – Battery power unit, with a single battery charge providing for 10 hours operation; the AL 4L – Generator uses a generator as the power source and, says Terex, the use of LED lamps will reduce fuel use by 40%; and finally, the AL 5L, a heavier duty model with a Kubota engine and an 8 kW generator that will charge up to three battery powered AL 4L units at a time.

In truth, the shift to LED and solar panels is just one aspect of the move towards fuel efficient or non-polluting towers. Manufacturers don’t need to use LED lamps to achieve power efficiencies and, after all, the high price of LED lamps will still dissuade some rental companies from investing.

Towerlight, the Italian manufacturer (with its export office based in Milton Keynes, UK), is an example of a company that is offering LED lights, but which also offers big fuel savings using traditional lamps.

Its VT-1 Eco, for example, is a variant of its VT-1 SuperLight, but with added environmental benefits and cost saving possibilities. The Eco version uses a light detection sensor and auto stop/start mechanism that automatically switches on the unit when the ambient light has descended to a predetermined level. In reverse, the sensor will close down the lighting set when sufficient brightness rises. This eliminates the need to employ workers to manually start and stop each individual lighting set. Towerlight reckons that the resulting lower operating hours and reduced manpower will reduce pollution levels by up to 30%.

Towerlight UK’s director, Paul Hay, says; “Our research has uncovered that most lighting sets are lit up for up to 12 hours per day, when in fact they are only really needed for eight hour periods. Using a VT-1 Eco automatically limits the amount of lighting to periods when it is actually required. This will, of course, result in favourable cost savings for the operator”.

The company has recently won some significant orders with UK rental company HSS for the VT-1 Eco. Ian Webber, head of product at HSS, says the VT-1 has been a popular products with customers, “and we’ve now added the VT1-Eco to our range because of the additional ‘green’ features and other benefits – including reduced operational costs - that it will offer our customers.”

Another approach to fuel saving taken by Towerlight is with its VB9 tower. By using a smaller than usual diesel engine coupled with smart electronics that help maintain a good light output from the metal halide lamps, Towerlight says fuel consumption is reduced by 72% compared to traditional units. Run time on a full 170 l tank is around 340 hours.

Meanwhile, earlier this year ArcGen Hilta launched its latest ‘green’ lighting solution – the SMC Eco90.

The new unit, which ArcGen says was launched in response to customer requests for more sustainable lighting solutions, uses a smaller, 3000 rpm engine than the 7.4 kW unit used on the standard TL-90, and has four 400 W metal halide lamps instead of the 1000 W lamps. The use of LED road lights provides further efficiency and ArcGen says the tower has an 185 hour running time.

The Eco tower joins ArcGen’s SMC TL-90 LED and SP55 Solar versions. The LED version offers up to 288 hours of uninterrupted illumination and has four 180 W LED light assemblies.

Chris Morris, chief executive of ArcGen Hilta said; “We have definitely seen an increased interest in eco-friendly lighting products over the past twelve months. As well as in the UK, interest has been assured in the Middle East and Australia for our sustainable lighting towers.

“Obviously it’s not just about being greener for these companies – these products are more fuel efficient, and therefore cheaper to run, offering considerable cost savings to users. And, in the current economic climate, this will be the biggest factor in deciding the future popularity of machines such as these.”

Finally, not all new lighting towers have to be hi-tech models targeted at buyers in western Europe or the US. Doosan Portable Power, for example, has just launched a new 50 Hz version of its LSC (LightSource Compact) portable light tower for markets in the Middle East and Africa.

Doosan says the tower – which is also available as a 60 Hz model - is designed for reliability and durability and is ideal for rental.

The tower uses a Kubota D1005 water-cooled diesel engine providing 8.5 kW of power at 1500 rpm. Light is provided by four 1000 W metal halide lamps. The fuel tank capacity allows an extended runtime to 64 hours (55 hours for the 60 Hz version).

At full mast extension of 9 m and with all four outriggers/jacks secured, the unit will withstand winds of up to 105 km/h (65 mph). For travelling and storage, a patented automatic locking system holds the tower in place when in the stowed travel position.

This machine may not be at the forefront of the latest LED or solar technology, but the same technology isn’t suitable everywhere in the world. Sometimes a step-change can be a step too far.


Doosan opens Indian light and air factory

Doosan Portable Power has opened a new air compressor and lighting tower manufacturing facility in Bangalore, India.

The facility will have the capacity to produce 2000 units annually and it will replace Doosan’s previous manufacturing arrangement in India, which was an exclusive third-party agreement with a supplier located in Pondicherry.

Portable air compressors and light towers manufactured in Bangalore will be sold in India, but the company said it had plans for the facility to provide additional units for South Africa and Latin America.

“Doddaballapur in Bangalore offers outstanding vendors and manpower that will allow for the manufacture of high quality products,” said J.S. Kim, managing director and CEO of Doosan India.

“As the market for our products continued to grow, it became necessary to have our own facility to meet our customers’ needs.”

Doosan said that the facility was opened 180 days from the time project plans were formulated.

The Bangalore facility will also house all Doosan India operations, and there are plans to open a trading warehouse for other Doosan brands, including Doosan excavators, Bobcat machines and Montabert hydraulic breakers.

An official ‘Pooja Ceremony’ was held on 12 August to open the facility, with 100 guests joining Doosan Portable Power employees. The first two machines manufactured at the new facility were light towers.


AllightPrimax targets exports

Australian company AllightPrimax used the MINExpo show in Las Vegas in September to launch “an aggressive assault” on the mobile lighting sector with its new CombiLite model.

The tower, which has been engineered to meet the tough requirements of Australia’s mining sector, has an articulated mast design which, combined with 360 degree mast rotation, gives the user flexibility in directing the light.

The CombiLite has four “quick change”, vibration-resistant 1500 W metal halide lights, and offers automatic start-up/shut down and spillage containment, all as standard.

Head of worldwide sales for AllightPrimax, Paul Sowerby said: ”We tell ourselves that this business is all about analysing the customer’s needs and devising a solution to meet them, and the challenge of getting more light to the mine’s work area more safely, has been niggling away at us for a while.

“Adding such clever benefits as high wall overhang and 100% spill containment to a range of minespec Allight lighting towers from which we already sell over 3000 units a year worldwide, means all the added productivity and safety achievements are wrapped up in best-practice technology."

The tower weighs 1600 kg and will operate for 76 hours on a 130 litre full tank. Power is provided by a Perkins 403D-11 diesel engine.

AllightPrimax, which sells pumps as well as lighting towers, has global production facilities in Perth, Australia and Dubai, Middle east, as well as an assembly and distribution facility in North Carolina, US.


Alternative options

LED lights don’t need to be on a mast or a trailer, as Birchwood Price Tools (formerly Birchwood Products) demonstrates with its new Defender range of lighting products.

The LED 6000 is a light that uses 20 low energy CREE LED lamps that produce 6000 lumens of bright light over a 120 degree spread. Birchwood says the light’s operating cost is just £0.12 per day against £0.80 for a 500 W halogen lamp.

“Hirers can anticipate a healthy return on investment from the LED 6000 as it has a huge 17 year life expectancy (based upon an 8 hour operating day, 300 days a year). The unit is available in either 110V or 240V options.

Also new is the Uplight V3, the third generation of its fluorescent site light. The light is a 1.2 m (4 ft) low energy fluorescent light stick, with an impact-resistant polycarbonate lens that houses and protects the Philips. It delivers 2654 lumens of light in a 70 degree spread.

The Uplight V3 is available with a base unit that works as a 110V 4-way splitter box to redistribute power on site for power tools and other equipment. “This provides hirers with the opportunity to generate year-round revenue from the splitter base alone”, says Birchwood.

The base is injection-moulded and filled with sand, making it tough and sturdy for site use. The Uplights can also be linked to form a chain to light wider areas.


Allmand expands Nebraska facility

US lighting tower manufacturer Allmand Bros Inc is to expand its manufacturing facility in Holdrege, Nebraska, by 40000 sq ft (12000 m2).

The US$3 million investment will include the acquisition of an additional 17 acres (6.8 hectares) for parking and finished good storage. Allmand said earlier this year that it expected to have the extension fully operational by year-end.

According to company president Matt Allmand the expansion will allow the company to increase production and reduce lead-time for products to four weeks.

Allmand - which also makes portable heating equipment and variable message boards - will also be taking on more staff in line with increased production.

The new space will enable Allmand to take in-house work that is currently being outsourced to external metal fabricators, allowing greater control over the scheduling and quality of the manufactured components.

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