Simon Rowley, editor at Electrical Contracting News (ECN), visited the Tamlite factories at the Redditch site, to see first hand the wide range of manufacturing capabilities and luminaires that are created for a number of sectors.
For over 50 years, Tamlite Lighting has designed, manufactured and supplied some of the most innovative lighting solutions for a range of sectors. Simon Rowley visited its factory in Redditch to find out more.
Tamlite Lighting is one of the UK’s largest, privately-owned lighting manufacturers, and its site in Worcestershire, with its factories and showrooms, is a hub of creativity and innovation.
The tour we embarked on comprises three distinct sides of Tamlite’s business – specifically, the industrial, commercial and emergency and hazardous lighting operations – and I had the chance to see, first-hand, exactly how these sections operate and interact within the overall scheme of the company’s business.
The tour started at the factory and warehouse used to serve the industrial market, and Stuart Besford, Business Manager at Tamlite – who served as our guide – noted that this market is in fact the greatest user of LED light engines from their own LED SMD facility, TAMTEC.
Walking through the immaculately maintained warehouse, which was purpose-built in 2012 and currently contains an impressive £1.7 million worth of stock (at cost), it became evident that there is no ‘one size fits all’ mentality in the company: in fact, the very opposite applies.
Walking us through the site, Besford explained, “Tamlite is not bound by product restrictions, as we can make any size or shape that is required by the specific project brief; and thus, creativity and innovation is at the heart of the unique products being generated here.”
In addition, the showroom upstairs features a large, glass window accompanied by luxurious, cinema-style seats that enable visitors to sit back and observe the production process in its totality. This, said Besford, is all about transparency. “When we conduct group tours, we can start by showing visitors how our machines work and what they do; but by being so transparent with our working process down on the factory floor, people can see that we’ve nothing to hide,” he explained. “This is the level of professionalism at which we operate at all day long, irrespective of whether or not people are watching.” In turn, this should give visitors every confidence that Tamlite is the ideal partner.
As well as industrial buildings, Stuart also supplies solutions for large retail applications. One of the largest projects managed was a contract with ASDA stores UK with which it secured a £20 million deal back in 2012. The supermarket giant achieved savings for its stores (and paid off the up-front investment costs) in less than 18 months, and subsequent to this success, Tamlite is now revisiting the deal and supplying Asda’s stores with new, next generation LED products.
Besford noted, “We have great expertise and can guide our customers on why certain products should be used in certain conditions. We always think about the end user, rather than just the installer, and are always coming up with new ideas. It’s not always about the unit price – sometimes it’s about the bigger picture, and getting that message across to the end-user. We specialise in creating solutions for problems, and can go from the design stage to a prototype in just hours.”
The factory itself features an array of sub-assembly production lines – with five production lines in total – along with a quality assurance area that ensures parts of its luminaires are visually inspected right at the very start of the process, rather than once the product has been fully assembled.
We then moved on to our second stop on the tour, to a commercial showroom housed in a separate building. Now in its third iteration, this room is used to enhance the customer experience and demonstrate many of Tamlite’s commercial products – such as panels and downlights – in an appropriate setting. Furthermore, the various lighting displays around the showroom can also be tailored to specific needs, enabling visitors to see precisely the ways in which the lights can be utilised.
Craig Broe, Business Manager at Tamlite, was our guide for this leg of the tour, and he explained, “The lighting experience is all about tailoring the presentation to the customer, and in this showroom, we can display our solutions for commercial, retail and leisure sectors. Here, electrical contractors, can see – in real life – exactly what 3,000 Kelvin looks like (for example), and it helps them to visually understand more about the products they’re contemplating. They can see and feel the products for themselves, and can also bring their end-customers here for a viewing too.”
The in-house theatre, which rotates on a 360-degree platform around the showroom and is controlled via a tablet, enables guests to sit back and see its lighting products on the walls and in the ceiling, and the presentation also includes luminaire videos and additional marketing collateral.
One of the most renowned brands within Tamlite’s commercial range is Starlite, which is designed for use at home, and in restaurants, hotels, bars and any other area that’s in need of a special touch.
The third and final part of the tour was a guide through Tamlite’s EMAX (emergency, extreme and hazardous areas) solutions.
Jason Horton, Business Manager at Tamlite, explained to me, “The backbone of our business is residential/commercial properties, and the goal is to help businesses to continually reduce energy costs while complying with the relevant laws and legislation. There are still lots of fines for hoteliers, landlords and residential care homes for failure to comply with laws in particular emergency standards and best practice, but Tamlite is on hand to help overcome these problems.”
Tamlite has recently introduced an exterior wall light with a dark sky optic – named TAURUS – which is designed to deliver one of the best light distributions using the technology available. It can avoid glare, using only one-third of the power, and the dark sky optic can reduce upward light output with less than 2% ULOR.
Following the tour, I had the pleasure of meeting with John Allden, Managing Director of Tamlite, who offered some unique insight into the company’s outlook. He started by commenting on Tamlite’s 52 years of success, and noted that the company could still do more to fully convey its range of capabilities.
He remarked, “Our unique selling proposition is that we offer a full manufacturing service. From our light engine operation at Tamtec in Telford, we manufacture high-quality surface mount modules, allowing our product design team to produce innovative luminaires, and quickly respond to the constantly evolving lighting industry.
“As they have the best hands-on experience with these types of lighting products, and also ask the best questions, we find that contractors are the best visitors to our site here. As we show people around, we often come up with new ideas and new solutions, which our design team can implement on site.”
I was interested to learn that Tamlite is establishing a number of high-profile contracts with local authorities, university campuses, and health facilities – including an energy reduction programme the company is undertaking for the University of Exeter, which will include wireless control of the entire estate.
Allden continued, “There’s only a handful of other UK lighting companies doing what we’re doing. These types of projects are ground-breaking, and it’s all about staying close to the contractors, producing an original specification and implementing a production team to deal with the larger contractors. It requires more specialist recruitment, as 70% of the decision-making process can be made by the contractor, so it’s essential to involve the right personnel.”
Tamlite are leading the way on raising the awareness of the role that lighting plays in the relation to wellbeing, and specifically, the detrimental effect that low-quality/poorly designed lighting can have on an individual’s welfare. Often, a problem within office, education and industrial environments when changing from traditional lighting sources to LED, is point for point replacement rather than a review of how the lighting can be best applied.
Tamlite believes that its high-quality luminaires and experienced lighting designers can provide the ideal solution, to help business owners or those responsible for maintenance overcome such a negative effect.
“Energy usage is now a given, but the concept of ‘wellbeing’ is less understood,” said Allden. “What’s driven this has been the homogenisation of luminaires, which has actually opened up new entry points. To this end our product development teams can build in to lighting solutions a greater degree of control, and thus add even more USPs into our products. This, in turn, helps contractors – who have a job to sell themselves – and in our experience, the most knowledgeable and engaged installers relish the opportunity of doing something new.”
The role of lighting in enhancing wellbeing in the workplace cannot be understated. The circadian rhythm is the natural daily cycle that helps humans wake up in the morning and fall asleep at night. Naturally, humans are exposed to bluer light in late morning to mid-afternoon, followed by warmer colour temperatures in late afternoon and early evening.
Artificial lighting in workplaces that replicates this can make people feel more in tune with their natural rhythms, enhancing their mental and physical wellbeing, which in turn can boost productivity and focus. Higher specification luminaires can achieve this through tunable white LED lighting, which Tamlite is able to provide.
Speaking on the nature of its relationship with customers, and how to convince them to select positive wellbeing lighting solutions even when current legislations don’t mandate their usage, Allden observed, “Tamlite is very proactive with its customer relationships. There’s legislation, and there’s best practice, and I believe that we do have a moral role to play. I wouldn’t allow our team to offer sub-standard products – we have to give the customer what they want and expect. If we didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. People want tried and tested products, and that’s exactly what we deliver.”
He concluded, “Having been around for 52 years, Tamlite is much bigger than people think we are. We look at the specification market in an entirely different way, and can be relied on time and time again.”