LEDs, or Light Emitting Diodes, are justifiably capturing more market share than ever. They are exceedingly efficient, far more than traditional lighting. As the marketplace is driven by the concept of providing consumers with the most effective and efficient products, LEDs (when compared to traditional lighting) win hands down. Even against previous LED lighting ‘generations,’ current performance is twenty-five times more efficient—a step forward that has been rewarded by increased market share.
In 2012, the LED lighting (technology) market was $4.8 billion, and that amount is forecasted to increase to $42 billion by 2019—a 775 percent increase. Even more impressive, by 2030, LED lighting is slated to have a 75 percent market share. A great deal of this forecasted increase is speculated to be driven not only by the technology’s superiority compared to traditional lighting, but also its falling costs as LED lighting quickly increases its market share in both residential and commercial sectors.
The growth at EBW Electronics (EBWE) is a direct reflection of these current LED trends. EBWE’s sales have reached $50 million—a 300 percent increase since 2010. LED lighting has long been increasing its usefulness and, fortunately for consumers, also recently reducing its cost. Though traditional lighting sales still hold firm, LED alternatives, both in lighting and other industry applications, have experienced a boom.
Impact of LEDs in Non-Traditional Lighting Sector
Affordability used to mainly be a perk of LED lighting purchases for residential use. Even though LED lighting can be initially more expensive than traditional lighting, because it lasts much longer, the overall cost for the life of lighting is more economical. Since the typical American household, in addition to non-American households, requires little LED lighting compared to commercial buildings, more recent price drops were previously discussed in the context of the residential sector. But, gradually, that has been changing. EBWE, for instance, has expertise in a variety of LED applications, including office furniture, indoor track lights, street lamps, construction equipment, and many more.
While LED lighting for large and complex commercial buildings still can be quite expensive compared to what is needed for residential use, 2015 has been a year of innovation in this respect. Instead of businesses having to potentially pay astronomical amounts for LED lighting to be supplied internally, new trends include facilitating the lighting through cloud computing. As a result, businesses can reduce energy costs by also reducing the labor costs needed to manage use of facility lighting via remote controlling options. Though cloud computing-operated LED lighting has begun to take hold in the market, it has not yet captured enough market share to be noteworthy. Yet it is still important to recognize that more companies are beginning to appreciate and increase their use of the technology because of other technologies that economically complement its use.
Impact of LEDs in High-Tech and Automotive Industries: Printed Circuit Boards
LED technology has also become much more relevant in the automotive and specialty printed circuit board industries. For example, the current market for automotive (fixture-based) lighting is approximately $19 billion, and, so far, LED technology has claimed around 21 percent of that market. LED lights and components can be found in approximately 70 percent of interior indicator lights as well as 25 percent of backlights in instrument displays. 20 percent of LED technology is used for exterior automotive lighting, 10 percent being used specifically for brake lights and taillights.
EBWE knows firsthand the increasing demand for LED lights in the automotive industry. Though automotive lighting and parts began as a small part of EBWE’s manufacturing, today 85 percent of the company serves the automotive industry (for 23 different major auto OEMs). By utilizing the latest in LED technology, EBWE produces automotive lighting that is more energy efficient, has a longer life span, and allows for innovative lighting aesthetics in products such as taillights, daytime running lights, and blind-spot indicators.
Though much has been said about LED technology being superior to traditional lighting, the former is not perfect. The internal quantum efficiency of LEDs has been relatively low for as powerful as they are. This has especially been the case when used at high currents. To make LED based technology more efficient and to continue increasing market share, 2015 improvements have focused on further refining thermal management. In addition to the higher efficacy, keeping LEDs cool will help prevent premature LED failures
To this end, the trend in automotive replacement “bulbs” is giving way to fully integrated lighting systems that combine the LED, controls, heat sink, optics, and mounting. This allows designers to optimize the entire system for cost and performance. The key to the success of any new design is EBWE’s unique ability to not only manage heat at the level of the printed circuit board but also work with both customers and suppliers to ensure a superior product as a whole.
Final Thoughts and Projections
2014–2015 market research suggests that LED technology, especially in the automotive and specialty circuit board sectors, is increasing its market share to 13 percent because it offers better options for use in numerous display panels and instruments, including those used in vehicles as well as on highways and street signs. That share is expected to reach nearly 60 percent in the next five years. And, shocking as that figure is, it may pale in comparison to another realization.
That is, LED manufacturing companies like EBWE will continue to capture consumers—increasingly governmental—who are drawn to the most cost-effective and efficient technologies to purchase with tax-payer funds, suggesting that substantial growth will greatly stem from the environmentally and efficiency-conscious demands of the public sector. EBWE’s attention to detail, short supply chain and customer service keeps consumers loyal to the brand, even with competition stemming from Mexico and China.
By having the electronic manufacturing services and design process integrated together, EBWE can keep production costs as low as possible, and as LED technology gains popularity, lower costs will be an increasingly greater selling point. Promisingly, LED technology appears poised to provide EBWE and other manufacturers significant market share capture now and for years to come.
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