Lighting up the AGL market

posted on 6th April 2018

Christian Onselaere, CEO of the ADB Group – an airfield technology company providing a wide range of systems relating to visual guidance at airports – is working hard to realise the Group’s vision of being what he calls a “truly end-to-end airfield solutions provider”

Q. CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT ADB AIRFIELD SOLUTIONS AND WHAT YOU STAND FOR?

A. ADB Airfield Solutions forms part of the ADB Group, which since 2014 has included LUCEBIT and ERNI, two companies that we acquired and integrated last year. The ADB Group comprises three world-leading airfield technology brands specialising in end-to-end, integrated and sustainable solutions for visual guidance.

We’re present in more than 2,000 airports around the world, across 175 countries. We have a rich history spanning more than 68 years in airfield lighting, and are pioneers and leaders in LED lighting with an innovative and complete portfolio that redefines safety, performance, quality, and customer service.

Q. HOW DO YOU DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF FROM YOUR COMPETITORS?

A. ADB Group is a pioneer and world leader in LED airfield lighting, with more than 800,000 lights installed at more than 450 airports worldwide. We offer AGL – elevated and inset, normal and low protrusion – for all airside applications from runway, taxiway and apron to approach lighting. And we now have the combined strength of the LUCEBIT and ERNI brands.

ADB is ahead of the technology curve and we design our LED AGL differently to ensure that our customers get the full benefit of LED’s characteristics. Our lighting fixtures include additional water tightness barriers that reduce the risk of accidental water penetration and improve reliability.

Ease of maintenance is another big differentiator. For example, LED lights for the approach are often installed on high masts or poles outside the airport’s perimeter, and often in difficult terrains. Our LED approach lighting comes with two cartridges – one for the LEDs and optics and the other for the electronic components. This ‘plug and play’ design makes it easier for a technician to replace defective components.

Going beyond just complying with ICAO and FAA requirements, it’s our focus on developing customer-friendly products and having the first-mover advantage that differentiates us.

Q. WHAT OTHER PRODUCTS DO YOU OFFER BEYOND LIGHTING SOLUTIONS AND HOW IS YOUR PORTFOLIO SET TO EXPAND IN THE NEAR TERM?

A. Beyond LED AGL and visual guidance signage, ADB Group’s portfolio extends to power management solutions and airfield control and monitoring systems. The ADB Power HF is the industry’s smallest constant current regulator, and its modular design enhances flexibility and scalability, makes it easier to use and maintain, and – above all – enables airports to achieve a greener footprint. Our Advanced Power Supply is a unique architecture that is specially designed for LED airfields. This makes it easier for airports to transition to LED AGL, by reducing complexity of LED fixtures and maximising energy efficiency from anywhere between 70% to 90%.

Notable recent additions include LUCEBIT’s COSAL range of International Civil Aviation Organization-compliant systems for airfield lighting power supply, control and monitoring that includes transformer modules, constant current regulators and related equipment that offer airports reliability, performance and flexibility.

Furthermore, we have partnerships with strong brands like Exel Composites for frangible airfield structures, FB Tech for photometric measurement solutions, ewo for LED apron floodlighting, Holland Aviation for portable lights and wind cones, and Luxsolar for obstruction lighting.

Beyond our product portfolio, what sets us apart is our SmartExpansion Path methodology which makes us an ideal airfield technology partner for airports looking to address operational, airside-related challenges. We have the capabilities to work as an end-to-end solution and turnkey provider for complex airfield infrastructure projects.

Q. HOW DOES YOUR SMARTEXPANSION PATH INITIATIVE FEED INTO THE DEVELOPMENT OF PRODUCTS?

A. Products and solutions are a key element of SmartExpansion Path, which is an integrated approach that looks at airport expansion in the context of eight domains of airfield operations. These are data-driven traffic management, detailed audit and survey, intuitive AGL design, innovative products and solutions, robust system integration, dedicated services and project management, in-depth training and proactive maintenance. These ‘building blocks’ are analysed sequentially, or selectively, to achieve ‘no-stress’ growth.

With SmartExpansion Path, our approach is to work with an airport to explore its current situation, its existing bottlenecks and then to jointly plan a future set-up that meets all the airport’s growth aims in the most efficient way possible. The goals could differ – while energy efficiency might be a top priority for one airport, for another, it might be capacity improvement or addressing maintenance challenges. We supply to the majority of the top 30 airports in the world and one in two overall; as a result, we are good at understanding the specific challenges each airport faces, no matter where it is located or what operational conditions it faces.

Q. WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF USING THE COMPARATIVELY NEW LED LIGHTING OVER TRADITIONAL INCANDESCENT BULBS?

A. LED AGL is becoming a popular choice as more airports become convinced of the technology’s benefits. Let’s consider some numbers; moving to LED saves a million euros per year for an average-size airport runway. By moving to LED apron floodlighting, Munich Airport is saving 46% in energy and maintenance costs on its airplane parking positions. There are also huge energy savings – anywhere between 50% to 90% vis-à-vis conventional lighting. At Xi’an Xianyang International Airport, China, the move to LED lighting on the taxiway has resulted in nearly 41% energy savings for elevated taxiway edge lights. Those sceptical about the high initial investment must consider that their investment can be recovered anywhere from two to four years, and – in some cases – as low as six months.

Now let’s look at the performance benefits. LED offers better clarity and spectrum emission, as well as constant photometric emission at any steps of light intensity without losing chromaticity. Plus, LEDs switch on instantly – unlike traditional AGL that takes some time to warm up. This ‘Instant-On capability’ improves conspicuousness and enhances safety.

LED lighting is also longer lasting and requires lesser maintenance. Incandescent lamps typically last between 4,000 and 6,000 hours and need to be replaced once or twice a year. For LEDs, the Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) in the same operational conditions is more than 200,000 hours. The annual failure rate of 100% to 200% for incandescent lamps falls to just 1% to 2% with LED.

Fewer lamp replacements free up maintenance resources for other duties and reduce maintenance vehicle fleet costs. Lesser maintenance translates to reduced movement of maintenance technicians and vehicles on the airfield, and infrastructure remains open to air traffic. This lowers the risk of runway incursions, and increases operational safety and aircraft movements. With fewer interruptions needed for airfield lighting maintenance, airport downtime is reduced. It’s a win-win for airports looking to reap the benefits of performance, safety, energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact.

Q. HOW DO ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS AFFECT THEIR OPERATION?

A. Our LED lighting portfolio is designed to weather extreme environments, from the humidity of Singapore that can reach as high as 80%, to Russia where the winter temperature can fall below 40 degrees Celsius or the scorching highs of the Middle East where the temperature rises to 50 degrees Celsius.

Q. WHERE DO YOU SEE FURTHER EXPANSION FOR ADB IN FUTURE?

A. Over the years, we have experienced a rapid increase in demand from customers, which has led to a considerable expansion of our offering. We have always been strong in developing products together with our customers, based on their feedback and requests. The same has happened with our services and system offerings. They have evolved according to customer requirements. We saw a clear need to redefine our end-to-end offering and extend it to include our expertise in airside auditing and traffic management.

SmartExpansion Path reflects this evolution, and allows us to support the complete design-build-maintain cycle of airside infrastructure projects. We view this approach as a complete toolbox for airports to achieve ‘no-stress’ growth.

Our focus, today and in the future, will always be on putting our customer’s needs first.

For the latest news on SmartExpansion Path, as Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) opts for this ADB turnkey option, see the inter airport show review also in this issue of Airside