New CEO Jacob Tarn has already put his mark on the organization with a focus on global presence and development of a supply chain and product-development approach that will serve the broad SSL market.
You find yourself in one of thousands of exhibit stands at Light+Building (L+B) and one of probably hundreds that have an advanced demonstration of tunable LED lighting for health and wellbeing. That’s no surprise, right? But you are in the LEDvance exhibit — the commodity lamps company that Osram carved out in the summer of 2016 and subsequently sold to a Chinese consortium. New CEO Jacob Tarn discussed with us the progress that the company has made at L+B.
Tarn took the helm as CEO in January of this year. The company clearly identified his mission as one of creating a global player in solid-state lighting (SSL) across far more products than lamps. Tarn clearly relishes the role and boldly states that already LEDvance is one of only two LED lighting companies with a global footprint and his goal is the number one position in lighting.
LEDvance exhibited in an independent space at L+B in 2016 even prior to the official legal separation from Osram. At that event, 2.5m2 of the exhibit space was dedicated to LED luminaires — the remainder was focused on lamps. Fast forward to an 800-m2 space this year, and 80% is focused on luminaires. Tarn said the transition was necessary because of socket saturation — although the company remains a leader in the LED lamps space including tube and bulb form factors. Still, growth mandates both the focus on luminaires and a move into technologies such as connected lighting and human-centric lighting, or lighting for health and wellbeing.
Tarn believes the company is well positioned to succeed. It enjoys a well-known brand including its own LEDvance brand and the Sylvania and Osram brands that it still uses on many products under license. It has a strong customer base.
Tarn also believes the global presence will help deliver success. And he says the company understands the lighting business and is prepared to continue delivering compelling SSL products across lamps and luminaires.
The company has product development centers around the globe. Tarn cites the inherent sense of German craftmanship in the development team, and indeed, the main development team remains in Munich, Germany. But US operations in Wilmington, MA will serve specific needs of the US market and a China center will serve what is the world’s largest lighting market.
At Light+Building this week, visitors to the LEDvance exhibit can get a glimpse at the company’s tunable lighting demonstration, just one example of how the company intends to advance beyond lamps.
The focus on culture will be intertwined with good, cost-effective energy efficiency; relatively long warranties (5 years today); light quality that more approaches daylight; and support for new applications including smart lighting and lighting for health and wellbeing.
What was most surprising was the progress that LEDvance has already made. Tarn said the company is already a top-ten supplier of luminaires in the European market and aiming for top-five status in the near term. Success has trailed slightly in North America, although Tarn said that progress is apparent in the region.
When the appointment of Tarn was announced, his deep background in the LED and semiconductor space was a potential concern as he moved to lead a lighting company. But he is clearly comfortable in his role. He has internal resources for component supply for some products with the LEDvance owners also having a majority interest in Chinese LED manufacturer MLS. Those LEDs will surely afford the company a cost advantage and the LEDvance product developers can source LEDs from Tarn’s prior employer Samsung and from former parent Osram (Osram Opto Semiconductors) when required.
Tarn projected a plan where LEDvance will in many cases target performance and applications that are slighting trailing the bleeding edge, but where mainstream high volumes are happening. The company will likely fall between the high-premium product manufacturers and the commodity class of manufacturers.
Still, that means the LEDvance technical team must work on areas such as tunable lighting. At L+B the company showed the aforementioned prototypical office setting with tunable white lighting. The prototype design included the automatic capability of setting CCT and intensity based on time of day, day of year, and more. And it included a touchscreen switch by which a user could easily manipulate the settings. Now the product isn’t commercially available, but it performed very well. And Tarn assures us that concepts that get traction from customers will move to commercialization relatively quickly. There was a broad mix of commercialized luminaires and other emerging applications located throughout the massive stand.
By Maury Wright
Editor in Chief, LEDs Magazine