Sep 1st, 2020

Seven apron floodlighting lessons learned over the years

As LED lighting pioneers, we’ve been working with aviation clients, from major international hubs to regional airports to military facilities, for over a decade. And we’re masters at making LED lighting solutions for airport aprons.

Here are just some of the lessons we’ve learned over the last ten years.

Lesson One: Apron lighting must be a design-led solution

Most people working on the airfield side of an airport will be familiar with Airfield Ground Lighting (AGL). They’re very standard products. It doesn’t matter who you buy them from, things like their output, size and optics will be almost the same.

But with LED floodlighting that’s not the case. You can’t assume a 600W floodlight from one supplier will behave in the same way as a 600W floodlight from another. They can in fact perform very differently.

This means you can’t approach a potential supplier saying ‘We’ve had a design from a supplier using 123 pieces of 400W floodlights. Can you give us a quote for the same number so we can use that as your competitive bid?’.

Unfortunately, you can’t just do that as floodlights will vary depending on their photometry and efficacy – the efficiency of useful light on the ground. So, you could have a 400W floodlight, with the right optics, performing better much than a more ‘powerful’ 600W one.

Another important factor to consider is how well products will fare over time. LED lighting will degrade, just like sodium or metal halide lighting – at a much slower rate though. But you still need to know by how much and over what time period. Again, this will be different for each manufacture and will certainly depend on the environment in which they operate

So, a manufacturer’s design and quote for a project must be based on their actual products. If they’re not, you can’t make any meaningful comparison.

The lesson here, in summary, is don’t try to compare ‘apples with oranges’.

Lesson Two: Test, measure and verify

Let’s move on to the next phase of a project.

You’ve chosen a supplier. Their design works – on paper. You know it meets or exceeds your needs. And it’s on budget. You give it the green light and it gets completed. You may think that’s it, job done.

But it’s not.

You’ve got to check that what was promised in the design phase is true to real life and it really complies with or exceeds what’s required by your local aviation authority.

Here’s an example why. Istanbul Airport asked 10 major lighting suppliers to pitch for an upgrade to the airport’s lighting. As part of the pitch process, they asked each supplier to set up two test poles to demonstrate they could reach the compliance levels shown in their designs. 80% didn’t pass the test. The Airport Authority was very relieved they ran the test!

And you need to go on testing and verifying your lighting regularly, with a documented testing methodology, to make sure it stays compliant.

As an example, Frankfurt Airport had a new system installed during the winter. After live testing, it was confirmed it matched the light levels needed. In fact, the lighting exceeded what was required, as a ‘buffer’ had been allowed for in the design. Six months later, in the summer, when they ran the tests again, the levels had fallen by 20%. They were still within the required levels though because of the ‘buffer’. The airport however was obviously concerned why they’d fallen and what would happen in the coming months and years. When they tested again in the winter, the lighting was back to its original levels. It was the ambient temperature change between the winter and the summer that was having an effect. By factoring this into their testing methodology they were able to make true comparisons going forwards, test after test.

The lesson here? Test, measure, and verify regularly to make sure you stay compliant with regulations. And going a bit above and beyond what’s required in the standards is never a bad idea…

Lesson Three: Optics rule

Glare is the enemy of all airports. It primarily affects pilots and can cause not just discomfort but also temporary blindness, which in turn can lead to accidents. So, from a health and safety standpoint reducing glare is exceedingly high on an airport’s agenda.

This is where the optics used come into play.

In virtually all the projects we’ve done, we’ve used our proprietary asymmetric optics. Why? Simply because they deliver a low glare output spread over a large angle compared to symmetric optics. We also make sure that they have a full cut-off above the horizontal plane to further reduce the chance of any glare issues.

The result is lower glare, not just for pilots but for ground staff too.

This lesson? Put your supplier under the spotlight when it comes to glare and get a guarantee it won’t be a problem for you.

Lesson Four: Pay cheap – pay twice

When it comes to virtually any project, engineers want to use premium products to give the best possible outcome. Finance departments, however, are usually focused on the price. And this can cause problems.

We’ve heard many ‘horror stories’ where the budget has been the primary reason for choosing a particular supplier’s solution.

In one case, because the luminaire’s heat dissipation wasn’t up to the job, the LEDs burnt themselves out so much, they actually fell off their circuit board.

In another, cheap floodlights were used and within six months nearly all of them had failed. They were replaced under warranty. But within another six months, they’d failed again. To solve the problem once and for all, the airport had to approve a new budget for a more expensive, more resilient solution.

So, remember these three things:

  • Apron floodlighting is part of your critical infrastructure. Don’t let budget be your controlling factor when it comes to it. The cost of having a cheaper system can be quickly outweighed by the costs of continued maintenance etc. And just imagine that you had an accident on an apron – if your lighting wasn’t up to prescribed standards you could end up facing huge legal costs.
  • Premium products will almost always outlast low-quality ones. And premium product providers usually will be around for a lot longer than their competitors. Go cheap and you may find that, when problems start to happen later down the line, the company you went for isn’t around to put things right.
  • Contractors are always looking to make as big a margin as they can. They try to reduce costs by taking what’s in the design specification and replacing certain products with cheaper ones. Reducing their cost increases your risk. Don’t let them. Make sure they stick to the specifications to meet your needs.

Compromising on quality can cost you a lot more, in the long run, is the lesson to take out here.

Lesson Five: Remote vs integrated drivers

This is a question we get asked a lot. ‘Is it better to have your drivers in the luminaires or a separate box?’

There are positives and negatives on both sides. Depending on where your airport is based can influence your choice too. In the UK, Italy, and Germany integrated drivers are more common. In France and the US remote drivers are mainly used.

So, make sure your supplier has both options available to meet what you want.

One thing to remember though is voltage spikes are killers when it comes to LED lighting. That’s why surge arrestors are so important. Make sure your supplier’s remote or integrated solution takes voltage spikes into consideration and can protect your lighting.

This lesson is simple, talk to your supplier about which will work best for you and how they’ll protect you from voltage spikes.

Lesson Six: Control and intelligence

Everyone thinks they need controls. But do you really need them? Before you add a control system to your project specification you need to:

  • Decide who will be in charge of the control systems. Will they need to be trained to handle them? Will you need to have 24/7 cover in case something goes wrong?
  • Look at what intelligence they can give you. Is it really that useful to your operation?

Control systems come at a cost. There’s no point in having them if they’re just going to turn your lighting on and off.

The lesson here? If you’re not going to see any additional benefits from having them, don’t be convinced by your supplier to buy them.

Lesson Seven: Yellow vs white? Which is best.

Another question we get asked quite often is, ‘For fog dissipation is yellow or white light the best?’.

Most people think yellow light is. But in truth, they perform exactly the same as each other.

Why? Fog droplets are on average, much smaller than cloud droplets. But they are still huge compared to the wavelengths of visible light. So the scattering of such light by fog is essentially wavelength independent. Car manufactures have known this for years and that’s why they don’t use yellow fog lights any longer.

This last lesson learned is a simple one. Don’t worry about it.

That’s it your seven lessons learned!

Watch the webinar recording below


Sep 23rd, 2020

Introducing Mark Nailer – our new maritime man

In this latest ‘Meet the team’ we’d like to introduce you to Mark Nailer. The most recent member to join the Midstream crew, Mark will be responsible for all things maritime across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Could you tell us a little about your maritime background and experience in the industry?

My maritime experience goes back to when I first left university. I joined Kelvin Hughes, a maritime engineering company that manufactured radar equipment for private, commercial, and military vessels.

After a couple of years there I decided to go back to university and study for an MSc in Marketing.

Fast forward several years, and a few marketing and sales jobs in places like AXA PPP Healthcare, and I joined the Hyster Yale Group. At Hyster, I’ve spent the last five years working on reach stackers, empty container handlers, and forklift trucks used in port and terminals. During this time I became the Industry Manager for Ports and Terminals.

What made you want to join us?

Midstream is a company that’s already achieved so much, in just ten years. It’s a dynamic and innovative team that’s totally focused on customers and solving their needs. I want to be part of the next chapter in the Midstream story and help shape the future of the business. The energy in the office is amazing too. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?

What will your new role at Midstream be? And what regions will you be looking after?

I’m going to be responsible for growing the business within ports and terminals in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. It is a large area, but thanks to the partner network we’re developing, I’m confident we’ll be able to win and service customers from all parts of the region.

You’re used to working closely with partners, dealers, distributors. How do you plan to use this experience to help Midstream grow?

I’ve been working with dealers for over seven years now and I’ve picked up many tips along the way! One of the most important being that you need to build relationships through respect, honesty, trust, and shared success.

Partners need to be treated as true partners and not merchants. That’s key to creating teams who can work together and put the needs of customers first above anything else.

And you need to treat customers the way you’d like to be treated if you were them.

You’ve always been focused on driving operational efficiencies to the ports and terminals you worked with. Now with a focus on LED lighting how will this help efficiencies?

Reliability is everything for ports and terminals. Our customers need to have solutions they can trust. Having an operation that’s capable of working 24/7 is critical to their success.

Efficiency isn’t just measured by the boxes moved though. It’s also about the number of lights used to achieve the required levels and the amount of energy spent to do it. In both cases LED lighting is light years ahead of metal halide and high-pressure sodium systems. LED lighting requires much less maintenance too – another big plus point in its favour.

You’ve worked all over the world. What’s been the most memorable project you have worked on?

That’s a great question and for me it’s an easy one to answer, because I came up with it and championed it from the beginning to end.
In 2018 Hyster made history by being the first OEM (original equipment manufacturer) to sail up and down the Rhine on a barge laden with over £1m of materials handling equipment to showcase to ports along the river.

Over four weeks we sailed the barge from the Netherlands, through Germany, France, and down to Switzerland. And we stopped off in each country to do four massive live events, as well as a number of smaller, more personalised, stops along the way. If you can imagine the complexity of such a project and then double it, still you wouldn’t be there.

The whole event was a massive success. We smashed our return on investment targets. We won a number of very high-value new customers. We all came away with some wonderful memories. And I got to experience living on a barge for weeks. All in all – amazing.

How does Midstream differentiate itself from the competition?

Midstream is unique in the market. From design to delivery and installation, the whole process is handled in-house. This means our customers get the benefit of the team’s experience, innovation, and focus from start to finish. We’re not a ‘generalist’ company either. We work in our four sectors only – Maritime, Aviation, Sports, and Horticulture – so our research and development is centred on just these customers. And our solutions stand out head and shoulders above the competition because of that.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love the idea of having spare time! My wife and I are very lucky to have two boys, aged seven and four. So, any time not working is spent with the boys bike riding, playing rugby, and football. I do love to read though, and my guilty pleasure is 20-30 minutes with a good book before bed.

And finally, for a little fun, tell us something about yourself we don’t already know?

I’ll tell you a couple.

Firstly, I’ve got a greenhouse where I grow all sorts of weird and wonderful chillies, ranging from the exotic to the just downright dangerous.

Secondly, when the stars align and I do get a few hours for myself, I love to go out to my local lake and do a little fly fishing. I’m still only learning, so whether I bring home that evening’s supper is still a bit hit and miss. But I love the peace and quiet that being on the water’s edge gives. I’d recommend it to anyone.


Sep 22nd, 2020

Football Pitch Lighting: England, Scotland, Wales, and UEFA

Depending on where a club is based and what level it plays at the rules governing the quality of pitch lighting needed can vary greatly.

The Football Association (FA) has its own rules. As do the Scottish Football Association (SFA), and the Football Association of Wales (FAW). And all clubs in each of these associations playing at a premier level are governed by the Union of European Associations (UEFA) regulations.

So, to help you understand what regulations your club has to comply with we’ve created this simple guide. It covers the regulations for each association in turn. Each one has its own classification system. So, we’ve put a note below each chart to let you know how they are ordered.

We’ve also pulled together a quick ‘at-a-glance’ chart to make comparing them as easy as possible.

Two terms you need to know

The two metrics used to grade lighting used here are lux and uniformity. Here’s what they mean in layman’s terms:

  • Lux – A measure of the intensity of light that hits a surface. The higher the lux, the brighter the light.
  • Uniformity – The uniformity of illuminance in terms of how evenly light is distributed over a given surface. The higher the figure, the more evenly light is spread.
Help is at hand

We’ve tried to keep this guide as simple as possible. If there’s anything you don’t understand, or you have any questions, we’re here to help. Just call us on +020 8038 7432 and one of our Sports Lighting specialists will be happy to help.

The FA Regulations

N.B. In this chart Grade G is the lowest level and Grade A the highest. League and Premier League clubs are covered by UEFA Regulations.

This Chart is from Page 5 of the FA Guide to Floodlighting Regs: see the full guide here.

The SFA Regulations

Chart is from page 29 of the Scottish FA Club licensing manual.

Clubs are required to have a floodlight system at the ground. To meet the Platinum standard not shown in the above chart, the club will be able to provide a back-up power supply which will provide two-thirds of normal power.

In the case of a Platinum, the floodlighting lux level is required to be: Average – 1200 lux and 0.45 uniformity

N.B. In this chart Bronze is the lowest level and Platinum the highest. Scottish Premier League clubs are covered by UEFA Regulations.

FAW Regulations
Category Lux Uniformity
Tier 1 500 lux N/A
Tier 2 250 lux N/A
Tier 3 250 lux N/A

N.B. In this chart Tier 3 is the lowest level and Tier 5 the highest. Cymru Premier League clubs are covered by UEFA Regulations.

UEFA Regulations

Chart is from Page 12 of the UEFA Stadium Infrastructure Regulations Guide: see the full guide here.

N.B. In this chart Grade 1 is the lowest level and Grade 4 the highest.

An ‘at-a-glance’ comparison

This chart compares the lux and uniformity levels of each regulatory body.

Regulatory body Their classification grouping Lux level Uniformity
FA Grade A (Step 1) Conference 250 0.25
Grade B (Step 2) Conference 180 0.25
Grade C (Step 3) Conference 120 (180) 0.25
Grade D (Step 4) Conference 120 (180) 0.25
Grade E (Step 4-5) Conference 120 (180) 0.25
Grade F (Step 5) Conference 120 (180) 0.25
Grade G (Step 3) Conference 120 (180) 0.25

N.B. Where the lux levels are given as ‘120 (180)’, the 120 figures show the minimum for any existing lighting systems. 180 figures show the lux levels that will need to be achieved if there is a lighting upgrade at any point.

Regulatory body Their classification grouping Lux level Uniformity
SFA Platinum 250 0.25
Gold 180 0.25
Silver 120 (180) 0.25
Bronze 120 (180) 0.25
Entry 120 (180) 0.25
WFA Tier 1 500 N/A
Tier 2 250 N/A
Tier 3 250 N/A
UEFA Category 4 1,400 0.5
Category 3 1,200 0.4
Category 2 800 0.4
Category 1 N/A N/a

N.B. Category 1 clubs lux levels don’t apply. However, they should be high enough for matches to be broadcast.

Get in touch if you want to know more

This is just a quick, introductory guide on football pitch lighting. If you’d like to know more – from the benefits to the pitfalls to avoid – our Sports Lighting specialists are here to help.


Sep 4th, 2020

Meet Marco Cavallotti – our Italian Maestro

In this latest edition of ‘Meet the team’, we’re talking to Marco Cavallotti – Project Manager at our Italian R&D office. He came to do his university internship with us, and we were so impressed we’ve kept hold of him ever since. Find out why, and what a key role he plays in Midstream.

What’s your role here at Midstream?

I’m a Project Manager here in our Italian Office. So, my main role is pulling together all the details and requirements of a project when it comes in. Then I follow it all the way through to make sure it happens.

I manage our Lighting Designers too. I work with, and support, them to come up with each project’s design solution.

Once they have, it’s my responsibility to build all the project’s technical support materials. These contain everything the installer will need to complete the project onsite, such as the right aiming of the lights.

I’m also the first point of contact for any questions the customer or installer may have during the installation too.

How did you end up at Midstream and how long have you been in the business?

As part of my University degrees, especially my Masters, I’d studied engineering lighting in depth. So, I already had a great deal of knowledge in all of the scientific, technical, and regulatory aspects involved. I’d also gained a lot of hands-on experience with things like CAD software. So, I had the right background.

For the final part of my degree, I came here to do an internship. After a week I was offered a six-month contract as a Lighting Designer. This then became a permanent role. After around 18 months I was promoted to Project Manager to oversee all the other designers.

You’re based in our R&D HQ in Italy. Tell us more about the Italian team and office.

Paolo Corno, our Technical Director and Co-founder, oversees the entire operation here. He’s developed a real ‘family’ feel amongst the team so we’re all there to support each other. There’s just the right mix of professionalism and informality to make sure we get the work done to the highest standards possible and enjoy it. Together they make it a great place to work.

We’re quite a young team. This reflects the unique way Midstream works. We prefer to develop and train our people from scratch – in the Midstream way. We think it’s one of the reasons we’re the industry’s No.1 player. We recruit either straight from University or after someone has had their first job if we believe they’re the right fit for us. And when they join, they spend four to six months training on our way of working and products before they start any actual work.

Having a tightly integrated team is extremely essential for the beginning to end product development and design we do. Everyone here is involved in the process. So, we can respond very quickly to clients’ needs and develop solutions and new best-in-class products if that’s what’s needed.

How many lighting projects do you think you’ve been involved with?

It’s so many now, I’ve lost count. I’d say I’ve been involved in around 90% of all our projects in some way or the other, but so have most of our team, we’re an extremely slick machine supporting clients right the way through the lighting process.

What’s been the most memorable project you have worked on?

One of the most memorable that stands out was also one of the most challenging.
A German company, Fraport, had taken control of 14 Greek airports. They all needed a considerable amount of overall upgrading– including their lighting.
That made it a big single project made up of 14 inter-related projects. So, for example, an engineering or process change in one airport could have a knock-on effect for the rest, including their lighting.

This meant we had to go through multiple lighting design revisions. As Project Manager, it was my role to make sure all the revisions tracked through to all our designs for each airport. That made it an extra big challenge. And I’m very proud we got all of it 100% right. It was also one of the first times I’d had the opportunity to propose the location of new poles. Seeing something there in real life that you’d designed on paper is very cool.

What do you find most challenging?

We’ve always got lots of things going on, and new things coming in. Sometimes lead times are very short too. So, keeping everything up to date and being able to respond to any question on any of them, at any time, is a challenge. I’ve got that logical sort of brain though that responds to it – even down to remembering how a particular client likes to receive their documentation.

You do a lot of site visits. Why is that important for Midstream?

Clients and installers find it very reassuring to have a qualified engineer there on site. If anything needs sorting, 99 times out of a 100, we can do it there and then in minutes. There’s no need for emails going backwards and forwards.

It also gives you the time to develop real relationships with people. They’re not just a project or a number on a spread-sheet. They are people and like being treated as people. That’s a big plus point for us versus our competition.

It’s also hugely important and useful for us. If we’re launching a new product, nothing beats being there to see it in action, out of the lab. We can also make sure a project installation comes to life the way we intended. We do this for projects big and small.

Delivering quality is at our heart. It’s one of the key things we guarantee our clients.

Tell us a little about you outside of work? What do you get up to?

I love to travel, but my main passion is motorsports. Formula 1 to MotoGP, I love it all. Just don’t get me talking about Hamilton versus Rossi. I know who’s best!


July 27th, 2020

LM79 and LM80 – a short overview

Paolo Midstream Lighting

Paolo, What are LM79 and LM80?

Before the introduction of LM79 and LM80, there were no standard ways to meaningfully compare manufactures’ data on their luminaires. This was because they were free to publish data based on their own different types of tests.
This was resolved when the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) introduced these two standard methodologies.

LM79 measures a luminaire’s performance as a whole and covers things such as output/flux, colour characteristics, light distribution, power use, and overall effectiveness. The European equivalent of LM79 is the EN 13032-4:2015.

LM80 just covers an LED’s lighting depreciation and can be used to determine the lifetime of a product.

How accurate are they at predicting performance in the field?

LM79 data gives the exact figure of what a luminaire is emitting down to one lumen. So, it’s as accurate as you can get. Of course, there’s always going to be a small difference between each luminaire produced and its flux. This is so small though it’s insignificant.
LM80 data is based on large sample tests of LEDs over a long time. So, it’s pretty accurate.

Are these values easy to fake?

A. Yes. You can compare these results on paper. But the best comparison is always the lighting simulation data.

Can we compare one luminaire’s value to another?

Yes. You can compare these results on paper. But the best comparison is always the lighting simulation data.

What should the end-user consider when looking at these values?

LM79 is just supporting documentation to confirm the numbers used in a simulation are correct. But with that alone, you can’t choose which product is the best. It’s just a guarantee that someone is using the correct data to run a simulation.
LM80 depreciation values are obviously useful to consider too.
The best things to look at when you want to choose between products are the simulations themselves. That’s where you’ll always get the most useful data.


July 22nd, 2020

Meet Hetty Leiwy – from A to Z, she pulls everything together

As the saying goes, ‘If the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, it can only lead to chaos.’. That’s never a problem here at Midstream.

In this latest edition of ‘Meet the team’, we’re talking to Hetty Leiwy. A key member of our technical sales team. From a client’s first contact to seeing a project fully up and running, Hetty makes sure everyone knows what and when they need to do to make it happen.

How did you end up working for Midstream?

After finishing my Masters Degree in Physics, I worked in a back-up power and cooling systems company. I wanted to move back to London, however. So, I started looking for a similar technical role in the area. When I met the Midstream team, I instantly knew I wanted to work here. The company’s cutting edge products, dedicated people, and fast growth make it such an exciting place to work.

How long have you been in the business?

Just over a year now. But it doesn’t feel that long. It’s really flown by.

What’s your role here at Midstream?

I work in technical sales. This involves reviewing a client’s requests. And then working with our teams to make sure the solution they arrive at meets the project’s needs 100%. I’m also responsible for putting together tender packages.

What do you find most challenging about your role?

We’ve always got a large volume of project requests coming in. We have sector specialists in our Design and Engineering Teams though. That makes it easy to decide who is best suited to pick each project up. It’s only ever a challenge when something is so different it may need input from multiple teams. We’re always ready to help support each other and work together though. So, even then, it’s a challenge easily solved.

You take a very detailed approach to your work. How important is this in your role?

Hugely. It’s what it’s all about. We’re known for designing ‘best-in-class’ products and delivering projects to the highest standards. For that to happen we need a thorough understanding of a client’s needs from the beginning. That’s where I come in. I make sure there’s an accurate flow of information from the client, to our Design Team and on to the Project Delivery Team.

What’s been the most memorable project you have worked on?

When you start a new job, the first project you get to work on always has a special place in your heart. For me, it was Queen Alia International Airport in Jordan. We were upgrading an existing metal-halide system to LED. To see in the flesh what an amazing impact Midstream can have on the running of an airport is something I’ll never forget. Not only did the upgrade triple the airport’s light levels, its energy use was cut by 66% too. A great ‘win-win’ for the airport and the environment.

How many projects do you think you’ve worked on in your time here?

Lots. It’s not the number that stands out though. It’s the projects. The relationships you make along the way. And the satisfaction and pride you have when that ‘switch’ gets turned on for the first time. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of that.

What do you think makes Midstream stand out from the competition?

Simply, we’re not a ‘Jack of all trades and a master of none.’. We specialise in our key sectors – Aviation, Sports, Maritime, and Horticulture. And our teams’ in-depth industry knowledge means we can design, develop, and continue to innovate unbeatable, tailor-made solutions for each sector.

Tell us a little about you outside of work? What do you get up to?

I do a bit of running and yoga. I’ve also been doing a part-time psychotherapy course and I’m planning on doing voluntary counseling work once I’ve finished.


July 1st, 2020

Product certification – our expert’s guide to why, what, how… and more

Product certification is something you can’t ignore – especially when it comes to electrical safety. But it can be a bit of an ordeal to navigate your way around its complexities. How do you know what products must be certified? Who do you need to certify them with? And do you have to get your products certified in every country you operate?

Andrea Peratello, our product manager, is responsible for overseeing the manufacturing process and certification of all Midstream products. So, we’ve asked him to guide us through the world of CEs, ENECs, ULs, and CBs

Andrea, why do we have product certification?

Nearly every product needs some sort of certification to prove it complies with market standards.

So, to keep this as short, focused, and useful I’m just going to talk about electrical products. And the short answer here, on the whole, is customer safety. Here it’s not a ‘nice to have’ – it’s absolutely essential and in most cases mandatory. There are also benefits for manufactures to make sure their products have been certified too.

Let’s look at customer safety first. Imagine Christmas is approaching, and you need to get your child the latest, must-have, electronic walking and talking doll. Which would you feel more comfortable buying? The official version that’s been thoroughly tested, certified as safe, and has the quality marks to prove it? Or one from a local market that looks virtually the same, but hasn’t got any product certification marks? I know which I’d go for. In this context, it’s all about guaranteeing product quality and giving customers peace-of-mind.

For manufactures, having your products certified can give you a competitive edge. And, if the worst should happen and one of your products develops a serious fault, it shows you’ve put product testing and your customers’ safety high on your agenda. Would you like to turn up in court with no proof you’ve done either of these?

What is the CE mark?

The Conformité Européene (European Conformity) CE mark is an EU wide compulsory, quality standard mark.

It’s there to show a manufacturer guarantees a product complies with any relevant European Directives. And if you want to market any product or an updated version of it, you need to make sure it carries the CE mark – no matter where it’s made in the world.

For some industries, like ours, this guarantee and use of the mark can be based on a manufacturer’s tests only. A word of warning though, you can’t just make up your own tests. They must prove you’re meeting the relevant directives. And whatever you do, don’t forget to keep all your test documents and results so you can prove what you claim. Believe it or not, some companies have failed to keep their results and have had to face the consequences of not having them.

However, third-party testing and verification are needed in some other industries, like medical equipment manufacturing.

What about the ENEC mark? If I’ve got my CE mark do I need this too?

ENEC (European Norms European Certification) is the EU quality mark especially for electrical products, including lighting. It doesn’t replace or take priority over CE certification – so you’ll still need that.

It’s there to prove your products are safe in accordance with any relevant EU regulations or directives, like the Low Voltage Directive. It’s a voluntary mark, so you don’t need to get it.
But, as I was saying earlier, it’s additional proof for customers that your product is safe. And having it can help you stand out from any competitors who don’t.

To use the ENEC mark on your products they all need to be independently tested by laboratories such as BSI. And they need to be retested every two years to allow you to keep using the mark.

The USA has its own UL marking. Is it different from European markings?

UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories, a USA third-party certification company founded in 1894.

UL no-longer just tests products, however. It’s now responsible for setting industry standards on products being marketed in the USA. It can also authorise manufactures to test and certify their products using UL standards.

The UL certification covers a broad variety of goods – not just electrical products. Just like the European CE and ENEC marks in Europe, it’s there to show a product has passed tests and it complies with U.S. and Canadian safety standards.

The UL mark isn’t 100% mandatory. But, to give you some idea if its reach and importance, around 14 billion products with the UL seal of approval enter the global marketplace each year.

What about the CB (Certification Body) scheme? What does that do?

Basically, the CB scheme is there to save you the time, hassle, and money of having to get your product certified for each market’s regulations.

It’s based on a multilateral agreement on the use of internationally recognised electrical and electronic product safety standards. And it operates through a global network of CB laboratories who test products to confirm they meet the standards needed.

These laboratories submit their results to national certification bodies, like UL. These certification bodies can then allow access to their markets for CB tested products. So there’s no need for further, potentially costly, and time-consuming national testing.

This doesn’t mean only one mark is needed to cover all markets though. It just makes getting, for example, the UL mark easier if you already have your ENEC mark.

How is certification checked?

After you’ve done all the work to get your products certified it’s not the time to sit back and think you’ve done all you need. Far from it.

You have to keep making sure your product maintains its standards. This is because compliance with ENEC and UL standards is strictly monitored by third-parties – who can do things like factory inspections to scrutinise manufacturing processes. And if your standards have slipped, you’ll lose the right to use their marks.

If you want to see if a particular product has achieved an ENEC or UL mark, you can easily check their certified product databases. They’re there for anyone to consult.

Is there any extra testing needed to work at airports, ports, and sports stadia?

No. The CE, ENEC, and UL don’t have any additional tests or requirements for working in these areas. Horticultural lighting, another of our sectors, is on the whole subject to the same electrical safety standards as traditional lighting. However, UL has recently introduced UL 8800 that includes a new series of product evaluations for things like the photobiological effects on the human eyes and skin of a light source. This is particularly relevant to horticultural lighting.


June 22, 2020

Understanding windage

When it comes to designing industrial lighting solutions, windage is something you ignore at your peril. So, we’ve asked our mechanical engineering guru, Andrea Peratello, to explain what it means and why it’s so important.

What is Windage?

Windage can mean different things to different people. In ballistics, for example, it’s the adjustment that needs to be made to keep a missile on target after taking the wind into account.

However, in our industry, we need to consider its engineering definition. This is where windage refers to the area or shape of an object that makes it susceptible to pressure.

Let me put that into an everyday, easy to understand context. If you’re walking down the road on a windy day you get pushed by the pressure of the wind. That pressure pushing you is called drag or drag force.

If you’re walking head on into a constant wind, you’ll find it harder to walk than if you were walking sideways into it – because the drag is greater. The wind speed is the same, it’s just the amount of your body you’re exposing it to – the windage – that’s changed. And if the wind speed and/or your windage goes up – the drag force goes up and you get blown over.

Why is it important and when does it need to be considered?

When you’re building something, like a large mast holding lots of lights, you want it to stay where it is – not sway around or even worse topple over. This explains why engineers have to think carefully about windage when they’re building something. They also need to take into consideration other things that can add to this drag force e.g. the weight and positioning of the mast and lights.

How do you calculate windage?

In general terms, engineers are less concerned with calculating windage itself – but more with the drag force, it can contribute to. It’s this drag force that can cause damage.

Drag force is easily calculated with this formula:

DRAG= ½ X V2 X ρ X EPA

V – is the air velocity.
ρ – is the air density.
EPA – is the Effective Projected Area.

And EPA is calculated with this formula:


What’s the difference between EPA and FPA?

Let me try to put this into everyday terms again. Imagine an oblong box with different dimensions on each side. The top, front, and end of the brick each have a different surface area, which is effectively the FPA for that side. And the greater the FPA, the greater the drag. That’s why we need to consider the largest FPA of an object as our worst-case scenario in any calculations we make.

However, we need to consider an object’s aerodynamics also to calculate it’s EPA.

Now imagine a ball and a cylinder of the same diameter. If the wind were blowing directly on the ball and the end of the cylinder, they’d have the same FPA. But because the ball is more aerodynamic the drag force against it is less than the cylinder and it has a lower EPA. That’s why we need to use an object’s drag coefficient and its FPA to get to its EPA, so we can calculate the actual drag.

So, floodlight manufacturers usually characterise the aerodynamics of their products with the maximum EPA value under the Windage tag of the datasheet as a worst-case scenario.


June 17th, 2020

Designing Market-leading Luminaires

Designing or commissioning new luminaires can be a technical nightmare full of pitfalls and problems. So, who better to answer some of the questions we often get asked than our Technical Director, Paolo Corno. With years of experience in designing and delivering lighting solutions, he’s the industry expert.

Paolo Midstream Lighting

Paolo, what are the key things you think about when starting a new project?

The client. The client. The client.

If they’re in a specialised sector their needs can really vary. Airports are totally different from sports stadia – especially when it comes to lighting, believe me.

You need to understand what issues they are looking at and work closely with them to see if they’re the things that really need addressing. Simply selling them the same thing you’ve done for another company can mean you’re not really tackling what’s needed for them and can cause them problems that have to be fixed later.

You’ve also got to understand their business constraints. For example, if they don’t have the money to pay for the solution you suggest, you’ve done nothing for them at all apart from wasting their time. But if you know what’s what you can, more often than not, find a way around these things. I had one client whose budget was incredibly tight, but the problem incredibly big. When we factored in things like payback and reliability though, compared to other ‘traditional’ solutions, it was a ‘no-brainer’ and they got approval for the project as planned.

The next step is totally key. Create a draft project spec that includes input from all the areas of the business involved. And get them all to sign that off too.

What technical qualities do you think are key?

Firstly, delivering the correct light distribution that’s in the tech spec – on budget. We like to call it ‘efficiency through efficacy’. If you can’t get that right, the project has failed – big time.

You’ve also got to take into account things like the materials used. Does it need to be tough enough to withstand a harsh environment where things like corrosion can cause problems such as a port?

Infrastructure costs are highly important too. For example, if it’s a retrofit job, you can keep costs down by designing a solution compact and light enough to go on existing masts.

Making sure your solution is scalable and future-proof is important too. Your client will love you for it and make you their ‘go-to’ supplier in the future.

What tools and software do you use when designing a new luminaire?

There’s a lot of kit out there you can use. DIALux is the worldwide standard in lighting design software and you can get it for free in over 25 languages. You’ll also need to use 3D CAD, and thermal, optical, and lighting simulation kit too.

Having said all that, the most important we use at Midstream though is the brain! As they say, experience matters. And our team has more experience – and brains – that anyone else out there.

Who are your key players when it comes to delivering a project?

We’ve got Product Developers who are 100% devoted to creating totally new solutions or develop existing products to meet different challenges.

Then it’s the job of our designers to bring those solutions to life and make sure they deliver things like the right lighting distribution etc.

Project managers are needed too. It’s their job to keep the project focused and deliver it on time, budget, and spec.

And last, but not least at all, is the production team. They obviously deliver the finished product. But, thanks to their experience they can add value by giving feedback on the solution overall or by suggesting better, more efficient ways to manufacture the luminaires.

How and when should testing be done?

Any test you can do, at any stage, do it! Make your maxim ‘measure twice, cut once’. That’s what we do. We’ve got our own facilities to test prototypes. And, of course, we get any new lighting solutions tested and approved by third parties like Underwriters Laboratories, Oxytec, and Nemko. That’s not a nice-to-have. It’s a must – legally.

How long does it take Midstream to develop and launch a new product?

This is a ‘how long is a bit of string’ question. It depends on the product and who you are working with.

Here at Midstream, we allow six months for a totally new line and two months to repurpose an existing solution. However, that’s all down to the calibre of our teams. Again, brains and experience come into play. Other providers will usually take a lot longer.

What’s the biggest challenge when designing new luminaires?

The big one is making sure you 100% comply with all the regulations needed when you’re developing a product or using one in a new market. We’ve worked all around the world, so we’ve got that down to an art.


May 22nd, 2020

Meet Dan Bolin – our ‘on brief, on budget, on time’ man…

No wonder we’re the industry’s No.1. Our designers are world-class. Our engineers are second-to-none. Our manufacturing can’t be beaten on quality. And when it comes to bringing all these things together, we’ve got the best.

In this ‘Meet the team’ we’d like to introduce you to our new Project Manager, Dan Bolin – the man that keeps everything flowing smoothly for us, and you from beginning to end.

Hello Dan

Could you tell us a little about your background?

Canadian born and bred, I started my career as a Mechanical Engineer in the country’s oil and gas industry. Fortunately, for me, the company I first worked for didn’t believe in ‘silos’. This meant I got to see all sides of a project through – from design to delivery. I found being able to split my time between the design office to working on-site hugely rewarding. This naturally led to my progressing into project engineering and then project management roles and eventually being certified by the Project Management Institute as a Project Management Professional.

In 2018 I was invited, or headhunted as you say here, by a UK-based manufacturing company to join them as Project Manager. My new company designed and manufactured heat exchangers and electric control panels for customers in all sorts of industries worldwide. The opportunity to work on international projects, with teams locally and around the world, was something I loved. And, even though I say so myself, I was really good at it.

Why did you decide to join Midstream?

Initially, it was both the similarities to my previous work and the new challenges it offered. The more I discovered about Midstream and what it had already achieved, especially winning not one, but two Queen’s Awards made the prospect of working here extremely exciting. I then met the whole team and the opportunity to work with such high performers backed by an amazing product range clinched the deal.

What excites you about your new role?

As I’ve just said, the team and the product. It’s also the chance to bring my background into play and further my experience too. Midstream already delivers excellent customer service and products. As the company grows even more, I’m excited to work to maintain and develop that excellence.

Tell us something your CV doesn’t.

My mantra – experience, grow, learn. One of my favourite authors once said ‘Specialisation is for insects’. To me that means don’t stop just because you’ve ‘made it to the top of your tree’. No matter where you’re at in your career, push and evolve. The future you will thank you for it.

What do you do in your spare time?

Loads. Football, golf, snowboarding, biking… you name it, I like to keep active. Otherwise, I’m really into traveling and exploring new countries and especially their cuisine.