The week that was 11-15th May
Singapore, weekend 16-17 May 2015
Monday 11; Singapore – Blast from the past
It is always intriguing to see how people fare and evolve in life. Last weekend I had the chance to catch up with my former boss in Philips, Ton Begemann. Retired several years ago he continued providing his expertise through private consultancy but now enjoys family life including his grand-children. On his final stop in Perth after a great holiday in Australia before flying back to Europe, we had a chance to catch up. I had a good reason to see him as in the end he was the one who posted me in Singapore with the rest being history as they say. We had not seen or spoken to each other since I left Philips in the early nineties, so at least 20 years. He had not really changed (good on you Ton!) and we both reminisced (and ranted) about life in Philips. I think we were fairly typical of getting older…we don’t seem to understand what today’s generation is up to, let alone today’s LED generation. I think we did enjoy the good old early days of lighting the LED B.C. times…Meanwhile the further development of the LED technology seems still far from having reached its full potential with yet another innovative development claimed by an Korean researcher…the Quantum LED…
Tuesday 12, Singapore – Leasing
Years ago in Philips (80’s) we pioneered the concept of leasing lighting installation. The idea being that you provide the lighting installation free of charge and get paid in the subsequent years out of the savings obtained from the more efficient lighting installation. At the time it was centred around the fluorescent and compact fluorescent lighting technology. It is therefore not surprising that companies have now emerged offering the same with LED technology. I met with a representative of such company today (by chance) and was really interested to hear more how it worked out for them. Their company operates mainly in Japan I understood but from case studies I noticed that savings can potentially be huge. A department store could typically save $250,000 a year in energy costs of which about 70-80% would be payable to the leasing company over a pre-agreed period of time. After which the savings are pure gains. The advantage is of course that there are zero upfront cost involved for those who want to upgrade to LED lighting. I did note that the leasing concept they provided was for retrofit lamps only. Understandably that keeps the upgrade simple with just simple light fitting adjustments and only one for one lamp replacement needed. Replacing completed lighting systems would involve serious ceiling works which may render the exercise more difficult for the lease providing company. Note however that the gains were calculated on energy saving only. Adding maintenance, lamp replacement and workman’s hours into the calculation should make it more interesting. Leasing is a concept we could perhaps consider for those clients short of cash or capital…?
Wednesday, 13 Singapore – Hidden agenda’s
It is common knowledge that many design consultants draw commissions form suppliers and while each consultant should run their business the way they seem fit, there are professional ethics I believe should be the driving force behind every professional and professed independent consultant. I was confronted with this issue today when one of our project team consultants, interior designers, decided to modify our lighting design to fit their own “needs”. Out of the blue we received drawings issued by the consultants to the team with a totally new lighting layout and specifications. None coordinated with us…just like that out of the blue. Their excuse being that the client did not like our concept…a weird statement as it was approved several months ago. It soon dawned on me that they were trying to take control of the light fitting specifications for obvious reasons. This is not the first time and certainly not the last time this will be happening. It is disturbing to say the least and while there is no concrete evidence, dealing with these situations requires a high degree of diplomacy and tact. Certainly when the consultancy practice in question is closely related to the owners of the project. My only tools are my professional expertise and knowledge and therefore my reply was purely centred on professional reasons related to quality and performance needed to achieve the desired lighting design…something that is non-arguable! Anyhow let’s look at the funny side…
Thursday, 14 Singapore – Hitting the road
The economy is arguably slowing down in the region with previously booming countries like India and China notably developing in a lower gear. From industry feedback I get that all of us are feeling that. But some countries like Malaysia and Indonesia and probably to a slightly lesser degree Vietnam, are still going strong, in fact they are our strongest project countries at the moment. The thing with our project business is that we need to think ahead and make sure our work does not dry up. This means generally that we need 130 to 150% project works to cover the 100% cash flow we need as there are always delays, always projects that somehow stall completely or even cancelled. From past experience we know that about 80% of our work comes in from word of mouth, the rest is self-initiated project acquisition; projects we hear about, projects we are interested in, etc. But when economies slow down we see an increased need for project acquisition. While we are still comfortable and even saw a recent upsurge in new projects (seasonal?), we have lately “hit the road” more often in search of new projects. A practice like ours is like flowing down a river…sometimes the waters are calm, sometimes we sail through rough waters, and sometimes we navigate the rapids…Since we are looking at life from the bright side, this is our working teritory:
Friday 15 Kuala Lumpur – Revisiting old stomping grounds
I am in KL today for some business and at the same time attend the launch of CLA’s new show room in Malaysia. CLA, led by the illustrious Eddie Tang, is one of the trend setting lighting suppliers in Asia with representation throughout the region and a reliable partner to many of the leading lighting consultants operating in this part of the world. There are probably few lighting consultants left who have not had a drink with Eddie at one point of time! Being in KL gave me also the opportunity to revisit one of my old stomping grounds, the KLCC Petronas Twin Towers. After we completed the project I never really had the time to go back up in the towers, with visitor queues for tickets discouraging any attempt. Staying around the corner I rode my luck and when I saw a minimal queue jumped to the occasion and bought myself a ticket. The 45 minute visit brings you up the sky bridge at level 42 and to the observation deck at level 86. I vividly remember my first few steps on the link bridge in the mid-nineties, even stronger is my memory of wandering around at the top floor of what then was then still just a concrete open shell, with no windows or cladding on the building and just a simple scaffolding separating us from the ground 400+ meter below. The building remains iconic in every way, by day and by night, a superb architectural design by Cesar Pelli. I am proud to have been part of its history as one of the 3 principal lighting designers on this project. It was a thrill to be back at level 86, albeit as an ordinary visitor.
Have a great weekend
The week that was…