By KEN LIU
The 7th H.K. International Lighting Fair (Spring Edition) draws record number of exhibitors and buyers.
The twice-yearly H.K. lighting fair has not lost its drawing power, having posted some 19,000-plus buyers from 112 countries at the spring edition who looked for energy-saving lighting products, especially LED lamps, displayed by more than 1,250 exhibitors from 12 countries at the 7th Hong Kong International Lighting Fair (HKILF) held Apr. 6-9, 2015 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.
The number of buyers rose 5 percent from 2014, partly due to the 5 percent additional attendance of Americans and the double-digit growth of buyers from Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Turkey, India, the United Arab Emirates and mainland China, according to the show organizer Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC).
The number of exhibitors also increased over the 1,081 posted in 2014 due to the addition of first-time exhibitors from Germany, Hungary, Russia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
Zone for Pros Debuts
Meeting rising demand, World of Professional & Industrial Lighting zone made its debut this year and housed around 40 exhibitors showcasing a broad range of products as stage lights, emergency and safety lights, architectural lighting, hospital lighting and other application-specific lighting, with LED options.
In tune to prevalent alarm calls and news reports reminding people of impending disappearance of ice caps, winters and coral reefs due to artificial greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, LED & Green Lighting zone was the largest at the event with more than 500 exhibitors, who provided increasingly popular LED and environmentally-friendly lighting products for indoor and outdoor.
Hall of Aurora housed makers who promote branded products, gathering over 240 collections of high-quality lighting fixtures and technologies with names as Ervan, Ford, Gentos, TCL and Viribright.
Hall of Aurora houses over 240 collections of branded lighting fixtures and technologies.
Just as classic cars that are forever sought-after, traditional chandeliers again found a home in Avenue of Chandeliers to attract buyers looking for crystal chandeliers that impart glittering elegance.
New designers and design startups found their channel of expression and opportunity at Avenue of Inspiration, where lighting products showed originality combined with technology.
Any market-savvy show organizer would not neglect the massive segment of small and medium enterprises that make up a majority of private businesses in even the U.S. So the Small Orders Zone met such demand by attracting buyers seeking to fill minimum orders ranging 5 to 1,000 units, where suppliers displayed over 2,000 lighting products in 200 showcases.
The HKILF is billed for offering everything to just about any buyer, a feature reflected in its inclusion of other zones as Commercial Lighting, Decorative Lighting, Advertising Display Lighting, and Lighting Accessories, Parts and Components.
This year, HKTDC, as other show organizers who counter declining attendance and take a pro-active role to attract buyers, arranged for 57 buying missions to visit the fair, living up to the event's reputation as one-stop-shop for finished products, parts and components. The delegations included such major importers and distributors as Tsinghua Tongfang Co., Ltd. from mainland China, Home Depot from the United States, Eurosvet and Domovoy Trade House from Russia, Originex Distribution Sdn Bhd from Malaysia, Ledin s.c. from Poland and Murano Lighting Company LLC from the United Arab Emirates.
Buyers look for energy-saving lighting products.
Citing a survey on market prospects conducted by an independent agency commissioned by the HKTDC, HKTDC Deputy Executive Director Benjamin Chau said that over 85 percent of the interviewed buyers and exhibitors expect overall sales to improve or remain the same next year, with the industry generally optimistic about the prospects of LED lighting products, and expecting several LED applications to drive growth in areas like indoor lighting for household and commercial uses, outdoor lighting and smart lighting systems.
According to Chau, Hong Kong in 2014 exported HK$10.6 billion (US$1.3 billion) of lighting products, over 60 percent of which destined for the U.S., mainland China, Japan, Germany and France.
According to the Guardian report of August 31, 2012, from September 1, an EU directive aimed at reducing energy use of lighting means that retailers will be banned to sell 40W and 25W incandescent bulbs. Similar bans came into effect for 60W and 100W incandescent bulbs over the past three years. With the U.S., mainland China and Japan also following suit, most of the exhibitors at the spring fair offered an array of LED lighting products in tune with such market trend.
Bowii of Holland
Bowii Lighting of Holland, a first-time exhibitor, mainly displayed LED lighting fixtures including the Imago, Ilos, Ilias and Ino series of tablelamps, ceiling lamps, and floor lamps for households. Some of the lights tap Internet of Things (IoT) tech to be connected to the Internet, enabling users to control the lights via smartphones installed with the company's app.
Joop Schuiling, owner and managing director of Bowii Lighting, is a first-time exhibitor promoting the Imago, Ilias and Ino series of LED lighting fixtures.
The Dutch Managing Director and Owner Joop Schuiling emphasized the integrated production prowess of his company, backed by 30-plus years in the lighting-fixture industry, which enables the whole production process to take place in-house, from product conceptualization, design to manufacture of ready-for-market item.
“We design products in Europe and bring them to a wholly-owned factory in Foshan, China for mass production, including thorough quality examination to European standards,” he said in an interview with CENS Lighting
Schuiling stressed the company's knack for building competitiveness on developing high-end products that are of alloy and alloy-treated with relatively high quality and nice design, as well as the maker's capacity for flexible manufacturing, including processing, that meets customer demand.
The company began making LED lighting fixtures around 5 or 6 years ago by replacing the fluorescent lamps in its fixtures with LED light sources, but, Schuiling says, now only focuses on products with dedicated LED technologies and designs. In short, the maker now only makes LED lighting rather than fluorescent-replaced LED lighting. Also being candidly modest, he said that the company was originally in the furniture industry, which always goes with lighting, and that the firm initially made, marketed bathroom mirrors that used T5 light tube in Europe.
Apparently taking a chance to look for new markets, his company participated in the lighting fair to tap Asia's developed market like Japan and South Korea, with Europe still accounting for the majority of the company's sales.
Seemingly quite confident of the company's Asian market push in spite being a newcomer, Schuiling said that the firm can be very competitive with some products due to its offering several products similar to Panasonic's in the high-end market in Japan and South Korea. The maker also has technically superior products that are a lot more sophisticated than its competing products, currently with prices that rival some lower-standard products. The man expressed disinterest in the mass mid-market and the high-volume market, also openly showing preference for the top-end Asians with wallets big enough for Porsche, BMW and Benz.
Clearly an executive with ample marketing savvy and a hint of product-cum-market commentator, Schuiling noted the company's humbly-sized booth and status as first-time exhibitor, without neglecting to point out its products being quite interesting and colorful, mostly in orange and black rather than white and blue, as well as the overriding importance of product differentiation. He simply rated most of the products on display as Plain Janes, ones with similar features, design and aesthetics that do not stand out to attract buyers.
Gentos of Japan
Gentos Co., Ltd. of Japan, founded in 1978, was a third-time exhibitor at the show, mainly pitching its “GANZ” family of rechargeable LED work lights at buyers from outside Japan. Obviously seeing the ceiling of his firm's sales capacity in Japan, company president Keita Koshiba said that its market share at home has grown only marginally after grabbing 45 percent as the biggest supplier of LED work lights, hence the reason for Gentos to tap overseas markets. The supplier sees the Hong Kong lighting fair as the ideal platform to meet international buyers.
Gentos President Keita Koshiba and a GANZ rechargeable LED work light.
The supplier offers basic work light, inspection light, and flood light, all with built-in lithium-ion rechargeable batteries and chip-on-board (COB) LEDs. The LEDs feature wide-angle light distribution, zero shadow-overlap and excellent uniformity of light.
The basic work light produces 120 lumens, 260 lumens and 420 lumens depending on model, being rated IP52 and IP54, with each recharge allowing a light to operate 3 to 6 hours by switching between two modes.
The thin, long inspection light is angle adjustable, making it an ideal light for narrow spaces, with luminosity of 250-lumen and 440-lumen, IP52 rating, 3 to 6 hours of non-stop operation on each recharge depending on model.
The IP67-rated flood light is rated at 1,300 lumens, 2,300 lumens and 4,200 lumens depending on model.
“GANZ lights are specially designed to meet professional requirements such as construction site, car repair shops, police stations, and fire halls, where work hours are quite long and work conditions often harsh,” said Koshiba.
Unabashedly a dedicated salesman, Koshiba touted GANZ lights being the best lighting equipment for engineers, mechanics, maintenance technicians, carpenters, construction workers, railroad workers, police, firefighters, rescue squads and so on.
Nanoleaf of H.K.
Nanoleaf Ltd., a Hong Kong company with branches in Toronto, Canada, and Shenzhen, mainland China, exhibited a series of unique LED light bulbs with a diamond-shaped printed circuit board (PCB) housing, with the LEDs mounted on the surface of the housing and all control devices built in the housing.
Nanoleaf Co-Founder & COO Christian Yan demonstrates bulbs with PCB housing.
Unconventional designs have enabled the company to win the Red Dot Award. Company co-founder and chief operating officer (COO), Christian Yan, ascribed such honor to mostly the maker's boldness to design for function rather than form, to have created the lamps' eye-catching shape. “PCB creates solid shape that does not crack like plastic or glass housing when hitting hard object,” said Yan enigmatically, without forgetting to emphasize the geometric shell's distribution of omni-directional light.
He pointed out PCB's thermal dissipation efficiency and how PCB bulbs challenge consumers' traditional mindset about bulb exteriors, to inspire them to think differently. “We're an out-of-box thinker, trying to use new technology to create products that are not only good for environment but also attractive and durable,” he said.
The maker also won the Red Dot Award for its Nanoleaf Bloom series of bulbs with dimming function integrated in a regular on-off switch. Yan said that they built dimming technology into the bulbs to enable users to dim the bulbs by flicking a regular on-off switch, which allows consumers to save the cost of buying a dedicated dimming switch.
Certainly a maker able to design lighting that is high quality, efficient as impressive as aesthetics, Nanoleaf bulbs, said Yan, emit over 100 lumens per-watt and have lifespan of 27 years without maintenance. All test data show no problem with lifespan of our products, he reported. The company is certified to CE, CB, FCC, UL, RoHS, and REACH standards.
The company manufactures and develops all its products at its Shenzhen plant, where Yan manages quality control backed by eight years of experience in the mainland's manufacturing industry. The company's Hong Kong office handles business development. Downplaying the infamous cost of living, housing and rental in H.K., Yan said Hong Kong is a great place for business development for its Chinese-and-English fluent speakers and great trade fairs to meet international buyers. The Toronto office has a team of 8 people responsible for marketing and sales in North America and software design.
Mipow of H.K.
Also a Hong Kong exhibitor, Mipow Ltd. displayed the PLAYBULB™ Color, a Bluetooth-enabled smart LED speaker-light bulb that allows streaming and listening to music and audio from most Bluetooth-enabled devices. The PLAYBULB™ app enables control via smart devices the lighting mode, brightness and volume of this LED speaker-light bulb.
Mipow’s global marketing director, Sunny Ng, demonstrates the smartphone-controlled PLAYBULB Color LED speaker-bulb.
Initially a manufacturer of mobile device accessories, Mipow started producing the PLAYBULB™ smart lighting series in 2014 and launched several new models earlier this year, including speaker-lights bulbs, candle lights and garden lamps for personal and commercial uses.
“Lighting fixture design involves more than working on illumination, but to create a more comfortable environment and is a key element to putting together a smart home,” said philosophically Mipow's Global Marketing Director, Sunny Ng.
Definitely playing up the advantages of its lighting line, the company decorated its booth as a bar at the show to enable buyers to bask amid the mood created by the lights. Ng said that in three hours on the first day of the fair the company received 300-plus enquiries from European, American and Middle Eastern buyers.
K Power of South Korea
K Power Co., Ltd. of South Korea, a first-time exhibitor, promoted the Muse LED mood lighting, which is also controlled by the company's app downloaded to Bluetooth-enabled smartphones. Users can via the app control color change, sound, changes in twinkling frequency, lighting pattern, music that matches the movement of the lighting, and singing.
K Power Managing Director K.K. Lee and the smartphone-controlled Muse LED mood light.
Pointing out the core advantage of the lighting, K.K. Lee, the managing director, said that the product enables young people to conveniently, economically hold party at home if they cannot afford to do so at club.
According to Lee, the company branched out into lighting business in 2014 in pursuit of higher profitability after five years in the electrical cable industry. Despite being a newcomer in the lighting industry, the company, Lee said, remains competitive by sourcing lighting components from China for assembly in China and Indonesia. The maker uses its own electrical wires to tap the synergy that make products less expensive.
More LED lighting buyers
This year, the show drew more buyers coming for LED lighting, including Dreamer Enterprise from Taiwan, Designa Contract from Spain, Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting from India, Haji Commercial Company (LLC) from the UAE, Start Management Company from Russia, SLOS from Slovakia, Menfor Sp. Z.o.o. from Poland, and Onga Artful Light Co., Ltd. from Thailand
Dreamer Enterprise was a first-time visitor, mainly searching LED lighting manufacturers with unorthodox products for its retail shops. “Demand for uniquely designed lighting products is on the rise in Taiwan because consumers are keen to improve standard of living,” said purchasing manager, Michael Ciou, who added that the company is a retailer of design-driven lighting products, LED lights and furniture that sources lighting products from both Taiwan and mainland China.
Dreamer Enterprise's purchasing manager, Michael Ciou, a first-time visitor, looks for LED lighting manufacturers with unorthodox products for its retail shops.
Designa Contract's partner & project manager, Ignacio Prieto Garcia, a first-time visitor of the spring lighting fair despite being a frequent visitor of the Autumn Hong Kong lighting fair, was looking for LED stripes, down lights and tubes. The company is a lighting consultancy that works on a wide range of commercial projects such as shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and gas stations. “Currently 90 percent of our lighting projects are in Spain while the rest are in South Africa and the U.S.,” he said.
Wipro of India
Wipro is said to be the second-largest supplier of office lighting in India. The company's head of product design unit, Rajesh Sangewar, was also a first-time visitor at the lighting fair. He shortlisted 3-4 potential manufacturers from China for supplies of office lighting, commercial lighting, industrial lighting and streetlighting for construction projects in India, such as the Metro Transport Systems, commercial buildings and factories.
Haji is a wholesaler and distributor of lighting products for commercial, outdoor, industrial and architectural applications, with offices in the UAE and Qatar. The company's general manager, Unni Krishnan, a second-time visitor, was looking for quality suppliers of LED lamps, panels and strips for the company's plan to launch its own brand in June this year. “Just in the first morning of the fair, we have already found 4-5 potential suppliers from China. We'll visit their factories in May and finalize our orders later,” he said.
Star Management operates 15 stores in Russia, selling lighting products, houseware, home textiles and DIY products. Natalia Shagina, the company's purchasing representative, was a first-time visitor looking for ceiling lights, chandeliers, pendant lights and LED bulbs. “We mostly import lighting products from China and I've identified potential Chinese suppliers of quality products at competitive price at the show,” she said.
SLOS has been in the lighting business for 25 years, providing lighting technology as well as interior and exterior lighting fixtures for residential projects and retail shops in Slovakia. Jozef Švantner, the owner of SLOS and a lighting designer, was looking for high-quality LED lighting products such as shop lights and facade lighting at the fair.
Menfor provides industrial lighting and street lamps mainly for food producers, packaging producers, and logistics centers in Poland as well as the Polish government. Pawel Golebiewski, Menfor's commercial director, was looking for new LED lighting products with high luminous efficacy for industrial use, and said he had found 10 potential suppliers from mainland China and Hong Kong.
Onga Artful Light has been in the lighting business for 24 years, mainly providing one-stop service covering design, sourcing, installation, maintenance and storage of lighting products for government projects, department stores, shopping malls, apartments and villas in Thailand. Company president, Ming Zhang, was a second-time visitor looking for decorative bulbs, cabinet lights, and festive lighting products using LEDs.
Another special zone in the Hall 1C Concourse, with the slightly sentimental name “Blossom Blooms”, showcased winning entries in the eighth Hong Kong Lighting Design Competition, which was organized by HKTDC.
Nearly 200 lighting designs were submitted by both students and designers. The jury selected the 7 winners based on originality and creativity, aesthetics, practicability, and marketability of the designs, with the Eco Design Award given to products that raise eco-awareness.
This year's jury featured a line-up of industry experts, including Antony Chan, Chairman of Hong Kong Interior Design Association; Ada Fung, President of The Hong Kong Institute of Architects; Tino Kwan, Founder of Tino Kwan Lighting Consultants Ltd; Dennis Lau, Chairman of The Association of Architectural Practices; Brian Lee, Vice President of Industrial Designers Society of Hong Kong; Victor Ng, Immediate Past Chairman of The Hong Kong Institution of Engineers - Electronics Division; and Winnif Pang, Ex-Chairman of Hong Kong Designers Association.
Antony Chan said this year the entries generally demonstrated stronger originality and marketability than last year's designs, and that LED was literally the most popular light source for new designs because it can be integrated into daily life.
Dennis Lau said this year's entries demonstrated even higher environmental awareness than last year's, and it was good to see contestants come up with new designs using various eco-friendly materials and encouraging to witness continuous improvements among students' designs each year.
Industry executives give keynote speech on "Global Market Trends on Lighting Product Development."
A series of informative events were held alongside the trade show, with the highlighted Asian Lighting Forum concentrating on two hot topics: “Global Market Trends on Lighting Product Development” and “Commercial/Technical Lighting Applications”. The forum was co-organized by the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers and Hong Kong Electronics & Technologies Association. The speakers included Roger Chu, Research Director of LEDinside, TrendForce Corp.; Jo Shum, Senior Director and General Manager, Lighting Hong Kong and Macau, Philips Electronics Hong Kong Limited; Terry Lau, Senior Lead Engineer, Intertek Hong Kong Limited; Kelvin Wong, Senior Manager, Electrical and Mechanical Technical Services, Airport Authority Hong Kong; and C W Hui, Senior Building Services Engineer, Hong Kong Housing Authority.