Lighting up the world

A COFFS Coast company is leading the way in the highly competitive world of 21st-century lighting.

Bellingen-based Planet Lighting has won a $4 million contract for the decorative lighting in six of Dubai's state-of-the-art metro stations.

And the details of a second $2 million contract for the LED handrail lighting system for stage one of the enormous 27-station project are also being finalised.

Planet's director and CEO, Brett Iggulden, said the company had been working on the development of its new age lighting system for the past four years.

"I first saw this solid-state lighting (SSL) technology in San Francisco in 2002," Mr Iggulden said.

"It was life-changing... like hearing Louis Armstrong when I was a kid in 1955.

"My friend and I said we'd better watch this because if they get it right, it will change the world."

Well now they have got it right. LED stands for 'light-emitting diodes' and is described by Mr Iggulden as 'the biggest thing in lighting since Thomas Edison discovered the light bulb in 1880'.

"Edison's idea has been very durable technology but this goes right around.

"This is about exciting a crystal with a small amount of electricity to get the stable emission of light.
 
"The technology is not only efficient and durable but seriously sustainable and ethically satisfactory for the environment."

Compared to the 2000 hours of an incandescent bulb, a LED bulb burns for up to 50,000 hours and is made of components that are completely recyclable.

"We've taken a new technology and translated it into a practical application that fills a niche.

"This little gizmo can screw into anything from hand rails to ceilings ... and it's all made in Bellingen."

Mr Iggulden said in recent weeks the company had been contacted to do a bridge job in Stratford-on-Avon, and new handrails at Dublin's Lansdowne Road Stadium.

"We're reeling from shock and surprise they are beating a path to our door."

But it all nearly didn't happen Mr Iggulden said the year the company was doing all the hard research, it also lost a lot of money.

"We came damn close to losing the confidence of the banks and others," he said.

"The Federal Government's research and development tax concession program through AusIndustry was an important part in helping us achieve what we've achieved."

Now it's full steam ahead to produce the 500 mini pucks needed for the 200 metres of handrails in Jebel Ali Station, due to open at the end of August.
 
Another 13,500 pucks will be needed ...but it could ultimately be as many as 30,000.


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