Leedarson takes smart lighting beyond illumination

Leedarson takes smart lighting beyond illumination
Leedarson Lighting is a leading green and energy-saving lighting solution provider in China with 11 years of LED ODM experiences. The company is the top one exporter of LED lighting products in China in terms of export value. Established in 2000, Leedarson Lighting now provides complete lighting solutions, including CFL and LED light bulbs, light fixtures, and smart lighting systems applied for homes, hotels, office parks, stadiums, outdoor lighting systems, and other commercial and public locations. As an export-oriented company, around 95 percent of its products are shipped to its private-label customers in the U.S., Europe and Southeast Asia. At present, it has ODM customers in 81 countries worldwide. The company is also influential in promoting wireless network technology for the smart home. In 2017, the company will host the annual member meeting of ZigBee Alliance in China.

As a pioneer of IoT solutions in the Chinese smart lighting market, Leedarson Lighting Co Ltd. started to provide smart lighting systems in 2010. Within five years, the company is now the major manufacturing partner of global leading brands, include GE Lighting, OSRAM, Belkin, IKEA, LG, and leading utility companies in Europe. To cater to increasing overseas demands and further strengthen its foothold in the international market, the company has set up branch offices in Germany and the United States, and plans to build production bases in the United States in 2017 and Europe in 2016.

Luminaires and smart home products are expected to help drive Leedarson’s revenue growth in 2017, as it views the smart home as a promising segment to the company, especially smart lighting. Sales and Marketing Director Kellen Yang of IoT Business Unit at Leedarson Lighting, “Smart lighting plays an important role in the IoT market space because lights are necessary and important elements for every household.”

According to Yang, sales from smart home products is expected to grow exponentially in 2017. Last year, the company turned over US$600 million in revenue, Yang said, citing that its annual sales within the smart home segment basically doubled in 2015, and the figure is projected to double in 2016 as well.

Yang indicated that persistent commitment to high quality products and optimal production capability has helped them expedite their sound reputation amongst the world’s leading brands. With an aim to be become an admirable world-leading green lighting company, Leedarson Lighting is firmly committed to its vision statement — innovation, quality, economies of scale and speed delivery. The company is not only notable for its strong exporting capability but also for its high quality products. Its energy-saving lights are trustworthy, being used in palaces in Switzerland.

How to become a successful smart lighting solution provider? Yang believes that there are three key capabilities that a winner should have—strong R&D and system integration capabilities, and being a one-stop shop provider.   

Trustworthy partner for international ODMs

Headquartered in Xiamen, Fujian, the company owns factories to manufacture CFL, LED, luminaire and IoT products in Fujian and Sichuan, China, with manufacturing areas totaling around 170,000 square meters. Its factories house 13 automatic assembling lines and 65 manual production lines. It plans to expand the number of the automatic production lines up to 19. The company has full in-house manufacturing capability, being able to conduct SMT, assembly, plastic injection, tooling, painting, auto punching and bending processes. The highly-automated production process helps achieve high yield rates with a monthly production capacity exceeding 40 million units of LED products. With regard to IoT products, the company can manufacture 500,000 connected bulbs, 100,000 connected panels and 310,000 connected accessories per month.

Backed by strong vertical integration capability, Leedarson can produce key LED materials in-house, including glass cover, optics, heat sink, plastic cap, and driver. It ensures fast product development and delivery time as well as low cost.

On a side note, the company also places great emphasis on product research and development by spending more than 4 percent of its sales revenue as R&D budget. Presently, around 1/10 of the company’s employees are R&D engineers. With a R&D office for IoT products in Shenzhen, the company has a total of 150 R&D staff dedicated to product research and development on smart home products.

Another credit worth mentioning is that Leedarson Lighting boasts 28 international product-related certifications, including ISO 14001, CE, UL, FCC, ETL, RoHS, WEEE, and ENERGY STAR to ensure quality and safety of its exported products. In addition, the company has established its own independent testing laboratory following standards of ISO/IEC17025 management systems. The facility also passed the CNAS attestation and achieved TMP certification from TUV-SUD, ITS, and DEKRA. Besides, the company conducts in-house product validation and certification that consists of safety, EMC, performance, photobiological safety, RoHS and reliability tests.

Expanding product portfolio and supporting multiple protocols

Leedarson Lighting entered the smart home by providing smart lighting systems in 2010. Regarding the company’s product development strategy, it is expanding its product portfolio from smart lighting systems to sensors, gateways and IoT accessories. The company began to design and manufacture multi-protocol gateways, controllers and smart plugs in 2013, and following the expansion of its portfolio in 2015, sensors including door/window, temperature and humidity, PIR motion and light sensors were added to the inventory. It aims to become a leading home security and automation solution and cloud service provider.

“In addition to hardware, we provide complete systems including software, firmware and app. We can offer white-label apps including customized apps to customers,” said John Liu, IoT R&D Director, Leedarson Lighting. Its cloud platform Leedarson Cloud is built on the Amazon Web Service (AWS), supporting its products marketed worldwide. The Leedarson Cloud is operable globally, providing user management and big data collection. “In the second half of 2016, we plan to launch new sensors that support Z-Wave and BLE. There will also be new product categories like smoke, glass break, water leak and arrival sensors, sirens, smart plugs and in-wall switch. In addition, we will release a multi-protocol gateway that supports Z-Wave, ZigBee, BLE and Wi-Fi. We also plans to introduce photon sensors, IP camera, thermostat, control panel and curtain control devices subsequently,” indicated Liu.

The research executive believes that supporting multiple communication protocols is one of its key strengths to differentiate them from their competitors. Liu said: “Most Chinese sensor suppliers provide products supporting wired or wireless RF 433MHz communication standard. The sensors supporting mesh network technologies like ZigBee are more competitive in the smart home industry.” In addition to finished products, the company also provides ZigBee modules to other companies.

According to Liu, low-power mesh network protocols will dominate the smart home market, with ZigBee and BLE being the two popular communication protocols set to gain more and more traction in the foreseeable future. However, BLE technology has its challenges.

“The major problem of BLE is the lack of interoperability among connected devices from different suppliers. The products cannot talk to one another. But on the other hand, one of the biggest advantages of BLE technology is that users don’t need to use a home gateway or hub to connect to smart home devices,” he explained, adding that Leedarson is always willing to accept new technology.

Interoperability is key to success

Yang stated that the lack of interoperability and mishmash of protocols are two major industry challenges to date. The company develops multi-protocol gateways to address the issue and enhance the interoperability via the cloud platform.

Leedarson Lighting is aggressively looking to partner with global leading smart home players and alliances, and has in recent years succeeded in joining ZigBee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, ULE alliances, Thread Group and Allseen Alliance. The company’s smart home products are interoperable with global leading brands like Wink and Icontrol Networks through direct support. Besides, supporting cloud to cloud connectivity, its products are compatible with Nest, Amazon Echo, Samsung SmartThings and Belkin WeMo. In addition, Leedarson Lighting is one of the few Apple MFi manufacturers in the industrial lighting industry, and the only supplier for HomeKit-enabled BLE mesh IoT products.

The company has transformed itself from a simple device provider to a full-blown system and solution provider. “We believe a successful smart home solution in the future could solve customers’ problems and address their needs based on applications. It should be a complete system but not a single product. Also, we believe multiple product categories can enhance our competitiveness,” concluded Yang.
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