Thorlux Lighting is well known in industrial circles around the world as the designer, manufacturer and distributor of the Thorlux range of luminaires, which have been manufactured continuously since 1936, when Frederick William Thorpe founded the company. Today Thorlux stands out among UK lighting suppliers as one of only a few who make their products for the British market here in the UK.

Mark-AustinThorlux provides a comprehensive range of professional lighting and control systems for a vast array of commercial, industrial and architectural applications. The company now operates from the parent company FW Thorpe PLC’s modern 16,882 square metre self-contained factory in Redditch, Worcestershire, Central England, and can offer customers nationwide full assistance with their lighting scheme, including design and commissioning.

Thorlux has recently opened a new 2,400 square metre warehouse and distribution centre at its headquarters in Redditch. The new warehouse features the very latest VNA “man up” fork lift trucks, speeding up the time it takes to pick items and deliver them.

Mark Austin, Sales Director of Thorlux Ltd, spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.

Warehouse & Logistics News – First of all, Mark, what does your role as Sales Director involve day to day? Does it include meeting customers to talk about lighting solutions for their businesses?

I manage a team of 26 Sales Engineers in the UK and three in Ireland together with two Business Development Managers (BDMs), a large Sales Office and a Lighting Design Department. We pride ourselves in the service we offer our customers, in particular end users who appreciate our desire to help them find the right solution for their application. I am frequently meeting customers with members of my team to ensure they get a personal and professional service.

WLN – How are you organised to cover the needs of customers in different industry sectors? Do you have a specific business group for industrial lighting?

As a company that started with the manufacture of industrial lighting this continues to be a key sector for us. We have two Product Managers focused on this sector, including warehousing and logistics, together with a BDM.

WLN – Thorlux has a long history of innovation. Can you tell us about some of the milestones in your 77 year history?

Our biggest innovations are probably our ventilated overlamp self-cleaning reflectors for HID luminaires in the 1950’s, our Smart Energy Saving control system and our Scanlight AT automatic emergency test systems. You can find full details of these and our other products on our website

WLN – How big is Thorlux worldwide?

F W Thorpe is listed on the London AIM market but the majority of shares are still owned by the Thorpe family and thus the company maintains the ethos of the founder and his descendants. The current Chairman, Andrew Thorpe, is very active in the business. Thorlux has a presence across Europe, Middle East, Asia and Australia.


WLN – Which other countries besides the UK is Thorlux active in?

We have our own sales offices in Ireland, Germany and Australia, and a worldwide network of distributors. Our experienced Export Department will advise on and handle customers’ requirements from small orders up to large international projects.

WLN – Thorlux offers a five-year warranty as standard. How does this differ from other suppliers?

There is no need to register  and Thorlux customers can be certain that due to our strong financial position and trading history, we will be there to support our warranty long into the future.

WLN – How does the UK stand out as a market for your industrial lighting products?

The UK market is very important to us as the majority of end users here are committed to reducing their energy cost and carbon footprint, and in doing so want the most efficient luminaires and control systems that provide low cost of ownership.

WLN – Can you talk us through the different types of lighting products in your current industrial lighting range?

We have two key types of LED luminaire products for industrial use, Solow LED and Kanby LED Mirror. Solow LED luminaires are designed to give the lowest through-life cost by keeping energy and maintenance costs low. With a rated life of 100,000 hours the  Solow LED will be maintenance free for over 11 years when operating  24/7. A choice of narrow and broad  distribution optics is offered using high performance diffusers and high efficiency light chambers. In the industrial sector, the Solow LED  is ideal for general industrial areas, manufacturing, high-level racking aisles, retail and commercial areas. The Kanby LED Mirror is an  extremely high efficiency, long life LED luminaire, ideal for warehouse type applications. We offer a narrow version with light control to higher rack positions, and a broad version for general area lighting. The Kanby’s superior light distribution allows for greater spacing resulting in fewer, lower wattage versions than the comparable T5 solution. Industrial applications for Kanby include retail and distribution storage areas and factory areas including assembly areas and workshops.


WLN – How can your industrial lighting systems guarantee correct vertical illuminance of racks and uniform light levels in warehouses?

As a part of the product development process optical control and distribution are very important to us. Sophisticated software is used to design our optics and we have our own goniophotometer to conduct real world tests. On one product range over 100 photometric tests were carried out to fine tune the performance of the luminaire.

WLN – What difference can poor lighting make to warehouse efficiency? What are the regulations concerning minimum standards of industrial lighting?

Poor lighting not only affects the energy use of the space, but also impacts on people working in the environment. Good quality lighting is all about the right light in the right place at the right time. Factors such as light levels, uniformity, glare and colour performance are just as important to warehouse areas as offices or factories. British Standards and guidance documents such as the Society of Light and Lighting (SLL) Code for Lighting can help with recommendations for best practice.

WLN – Leading on from this, I understand that Colour Rendering Index (CRI) and Luminaire Lumens per circuit watt (LL/CW) are important measurements to use in assessing warehouse lighting applications. Can you talk us through these?

Light source technology, be it fluorescent or LED, is getting progressively more efficient. It is therefore important that the luminaire is also efficient in collecting the light and getting it out of the luminaire. Luminaire Lumens per Circuit Watt is a good metric for understanding how efficient the total ‘system’ is as it takes into account lamp flux, the light output ratio (LOR) of the luminaire and total installed wattage of any control gear. Part L of the UK Building Regulations requires luminaires to achieve 55 LL/CW. This is likely to rise in the future as LED technology comes to the fore but Thorlux already manufacture industrial light fittings achieving up to 120 LL/CW.


WLN – Is there an accepted minimum CRI for warehouse working, and what CRI do your luminaires produce?

As we move over to LED technology, colour rendition is an important consideration. Colour Rendition Index is a measure of the ability of a light source to render colours correctly. CRI 100 is equivalent to daylight and therefore the higher the CRI value is for the light source, the better it is. LED technology is available in a range of different CRI’s, however for most LEDs the lower the CRI, the more light you get. Therefore to achieve high Luminaire Lumens per Circuit Watt, some are achieving this at the expense of colour performance. For storage and racking areas the British Standards recommend a minimum colour performance CRI60. However for control stations, inspection areas and the like, a CRI80 light source is required. Consideration has to be given to the people working in the environment. Good quality light is important for wellbeing particularly if operators are working long hours. Thorlux offer either CRI70 or CRI80, ensuring the right colour performance for the area concerned.

WLN – How do your lighting products differ from other suppliers? What difference does it make, producing your products for the British market here in the UK?

We are very passionate about manufacturing in the UK and maintaining local control over design, QA and distribution. We are also able to directly offset carbon emissions from the production and distribution of our luminaires by planting trees on 215 acres of land in Devauden, Monmouthshire, owned by Thorlux. This is the first scheme of its kind in the UK and is accredited to the Woodland Carbon Code in Wales.

WLN – What lighting control systems do you offer for industrial applications?

Our Smart control system is the most flexible and offers the highest energy savings and user comfort. We also have a range of other solutions that can be designed around customers’ requirements.

WLN – What quality standards do you work to?

Thorlux as a company is assessed to BS EN ISO 9001:2008, which is the customer’s assurance that Thorlux luminaires are subject to the most stringent quality control. Accreditation to BS EN ISO 14001:2004 reassures the customer that our products are manufactured in the most environmentally friendly manner. Also, being members of the Lighting Industry Association and the Society of Light & Lighting means we are fully committed to the highest standards regarding professional advice and competence, service, training, ethical behaviour and the safety, performance and compatibility of Thorlux lighting equipment.

WLN – What trends are you noticing in warehouse lighting?

The main driver is energy efficiency. End users are looking to save money by reducing their lighting load. We are therefore seeing more LED technology being used as well as lighting controls either to dim light fittings if daylight is present, or switch them off completely if the space is vacant. Wireless communication of lighting control will be the next big thing as existing trunking runs within warehouses are not always ideally orientated.


WLN – Do you offer any software for use in modelling and designing lighting systems?

For those wishing to produce their own lighting schemes, DIALux and Relux and our corresponding luminaire databases are available from the software download section of our website. That said, our award winning Lighting Design Department will prepare lighting scheme proposals to meet the unique needs of each project including energy saving controls where appropriate. Cost effective lighting, low cost of ownership and user comfort are three key elements accounted for in our designs.

WLN – Do you offer customers full technical support?

We have a Technical Services Department ready to answer queries regarding the technical aspects of Thorlux products and their use in specific environments. After sales care is always available to provide absolute customer satisfaction. We offer a professional on-site commissioning service to ensure products are configured to provide exactly the desired performance and return on investment.

WLN – How do you link up individual Smart luminaries into a grouped system?

You can link them using a “Motionline” two wire low voltage bus allowing luminaries to communicate and switch together in groups so that the user is not working in a pool of light surrounded by darkness.

WLN – What kind of energy savings can you achieve with your Smart lighting systems? Can they be predicted accurately at the design stage?

Typically savings can be 70%, and we have case studies available online to support this. We can predict savings through the reduction in installed load plus estimated savings from daylight and presence detection based on experience.

WLN – When did you open your new warehouse and distribution centre? What difference has it made to the business so far? Are you planning further investments in the business in 2014?

The new warehouse opened in April, doubling our storage capacity and improving efficiency. It is also an important showcase for customers visiting our factory and Application Centre, as we have installed the latest LED products and our Smart control system. We are also investing in additional PCB production facilities to meet the growing demand for LED luminaires.


WLN – Finally, where do you see the UK industrial lighting market, and Thorlux as a supplier to it, going from here?

Good quality T5 fluorescent luminaires still offer a cost effective solution for some industrial applications but there will be a considerable shift to LED sources as their efficiencies continue to increase and the associated lower maintenance costs are realised. Thorlux will continue to offer the best solution to meet each customer’s requirements.

Thorlux Lighting

Tel: 01527 583 200

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