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    How does a small company start making LED streetlight drivers?

    Hello,
    The Phillips “Xitanium Xi FP 165W” LED driver and the Harvard Eng “CLH_150W” LED driver are both intended for the streetlighting market at 150W. They are competitor products.

    Phillips is a Dutch company, and has a very close association with NXP semiconductors, -as such Phillips can reap the benefits of massive component cost reduction
    Harvard Technology is a British company. There are no British Semiconductor fabrication plants in existence. As such, Harvard Technology cannot reap the benefit of component cost reductions like Philips can.

    Other non-UK companies who make streetlight drivers also have close associations with semiconductor fabrication plants…for example, Tridonic have a close association with Infineon. Samsung have a close association with their own semiconductor fabrication plant. So too do many others……

    As such, why do Harvard compete in the 150W streetlight driver market? They surely will be out-priced at every level? They surely will have to pay more for their electronics components? They have no association with any semiconductor fabrication plant. How do they manage to compete and sell their products which are pretty much the same spec as their more fortunate competitors?….(or do they not manage to sell their “like for like” products?)
    Do Harvard Technology get a UK government grant to produce LED streetlight drivers?

    Are LED streetlight drivers generally so over-priced that any small company can jump in and start making decent sales and money?


    Phillips “Xitanium Xi FP 165W” LED driver Datasheet
    http://www.docs.lighting.philips.com...9000976206.pdf


    Harvard Eng “CLH_150W” LED driver Datasheet:
    http://www.harvardtechnology.com/fil.../CLH__150W.pdf
    .................................................. .................................
    My company is constantly carrying out costings of Switch Mode LED driver designs for streetlighting. Every time, we simply cannot compete with the multinational corporations who can call in massive component cost reductions.

    Not only that, but the huge multinational electronics corporations have huge financial backing which enables them to make their own custom Ferrite cores and formers. We simply cannot compete with this, since we cannot afford to do that. We have to use off-the-shelf cores and formers which are inevitably larger than the custom ones that the huge corporations get custom made. This makes our product not only more expensive, but also unfavourably larger in size.

    The arena of lighting, in particular, has been absolutely saturated with products. When small companys try to get in, the huge corporations simply carry out tactical price-cutting until the smaller competitor goes out of business. When we place a tender for an order for led streetlight drivers, the large corporations simply tell all the buyers that they will charge 10 Euros less than what we charge.

    Would you say that it is now impossible for a small company to enter the LED streetlghting market?
    Last edited by treez; 3rd March 2018 at 18:18.

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    Re: How does a small company start making LED streetlight drivers?

    Hi treez,

    I don't know. Flippant but serious answer is why would a little guy like Elon Musk even dream of changing the draconian monopolies of the way cars are fuelled and electricity is generated for domestic and industrial consumption? - Some people dream and put their money where their dreams are?

    Everything has a variety of prices as in society there is a sliding scale of purchasing power and/or indifference at price or idiosyncratic preferences which dictate choice over price.


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    •   Alt3rd March 2018, 18:07

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    Re: How does a small company start making LED streetlight drivers?

    OK thanks, with all respect to that, and i do see your point and value it.....but LED streetlight drivers are pretty much not as open to "novelty briliance" as is the electric car market.



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    Re: How does a small company start making LED streetlight drivers?

    I wonder sometimes whether there is real economy in complex designs for a simple product. I agree that inter-marketing agreements reduce costs and may force competition out of the market but I see no reason why, for example, your company can't enter an agreement in a similar way.

    Close associations between companies can work to disadvantage too. I worked in a huge manufacturing plant near Chicago which had an agreement to use a certain brand of non-X86 computer in exchange for supplying ICs at discount prices. The ICs were used in those computers. As an engineering department, we couldn't run much of the technical software on anything but PCs so we had to smuggle them into the factory, keeping them out of sight of the managers! It certainly wasn't a cost effective agreement.

    I recall a lead acid battery charger many years ago that was causing radio interference over quite a large area. It was sold by the hundreds and became quite a well known problem. The authorities banned it's sale and investigated what was inside it. The electronics was relatively complicated, using entirely analog circuits to measure and produce PWM signals to regulate the charge rate. I suspect the PWM wasn't filtered and the cables to the battery were effective antennas but I never worked on it myself. The interesting thing was that for all the electronics, it emulated a fixed resistor and the manufacturer made a Mk2 version with just that, a resistor instead of the circuit board.

    It makes me think that sometimes we get blinded by the technology instead of concentrating on the outcome. For example, have you tried a bridge rectifier, a capacitor and a resistor (maybe thermistor) to produce the LED voltage? Does the LED current really need stabilizing in case the mains fluctuates +/- 10% when the visible effect in almost imperceptible? Will a Zener diode clamp replace that super complicated over-voltage detecting circuit? Can a capacitor be used safely as a lossless reactive dropper? Lots of questions that should be considered before worrying about who can supply the latest 'intelligent' control components. Often the simplest solution is the best one.

    Brian.
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    Re: How does a small company start making LED streetlight drivers?

    Working on a large corporations, which have a score of business units is both an asset and a drawback.

    In the 80s I worked for a corporation which had a semiconductor division.
    Its products were quite good, but they were always two or three steps behind the other major competitors.

    It was frustrating to be constrained to using underpowered components, when one knew that there were better options.


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    Re: How does a small company start making LED streetlight drivers?

    There are several points to consider here: let me assume that you are the British company without a dedicated connection!

    1. You need to consider a critical mass: you must procure from the market and it does matter if you are asking for 100,000 pcs or 1000 pcs. Sometimes it may make good business sense to buy 100,000 even if you need only 1000 and dispose of the remaining stock later.

    2. Keep in mind the circulation: the more hands your product moves, the cost goes up. The same is true for the products you buy. You really cannot get rid of the middlemen but the final consumer- the last link- cares for pennies.

    3. Also think about dynamism: the smaller ones are better adapted at changes: you do not have the worry of the 10,000 pcs sitting idle in the warehouse.

    4. If you are waiting for the perfect perfection, you are lost. Do the best with what you have.


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    Re: How does a small company start making LED streetlight drivers?

    There are other considerations than price that should be investigated.

    Sales should concentrate on the overall benefits of a product not just its price. Price is the easiest sales tool but is not always the best measure of a product's overall value.

    Other areas to consider rather than just price that have significant value over the lifetime of street lights for the local municipalities:

    1. Reliability - make a PSU that is more reliable than the competition. Perhaps enter a joint development with a semi mnf.
    2. Obsolescence - Semiconductors in the PSU will become obsolete faster than the lifetime of the LED- guarantee PSU availability for the lifetime of the LED.
    3. Make a PSU that is extremely easy to replace when it fails, easier to replace than the competition.

    Municipalities need to see overall benefits over the lifetime of their street lights, rather than just the initial costs. Show them the bigger picture - the cost of a street light failure, manpower costs to replace failed units, warehousing costs for spares, difficulty of PSU replacement (see 3 above).

    Quality, reliability and good design always pay back in the long run.
    Always remember that you are absolutely unique,
    just like everyone else.


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    •   Alt5th March 2018, 09:11

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    Re: How does a small company start making LED streetlight drivers?

    Quote Originally Posted by treez View Post
    When small companys try to get in, the huge corporations simply carry out tactical price-cutting until the smaller competitor goes out of business. When we place a tender for an order for led streetlight drivers, the large corporations simply tell all the buyers that they will charge 10 Euros less than what we charge.
    As you found out, your company can't compete on price. Looking at your threads, you have already designed for the lowest possible cost, and even below.

    I am not familiar with your market, but is there any chance to offer better quality or better functionalitythan others, instead of lower price? I see lighting companies (not street lighting) over here who are quite successful with that.


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    •   Alt5th March 2018, 09:30

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    Re: How does a small company start making LED streetlight drivers?

    Many mass-market "opportunities" are only opportunities to go
    broke. PC power supplies, automotive, cell phone guts, etc.
    are all good places to lose money in mass volume (never mind
    the amortization of NRE).

    The little guys have to win on responsiveness and differentiation.
    Reponsiveness may be first-to-market, or first-to-listen (solve
    somebody's problem with a big-boy part, that the big boy won't
    touch).

    Of course anyone can -start- making streetlight drivers. The
    more relevant question is, can anyone without billions behind
    them, finish in the money - ever?


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    Re: How does a small company start making LED streetlight drivers?

    A certain corporation is winning all the streetlight tenders in UK, and it is only being honest to say that there is a level of suspicion in certain quarters that, shall we say, customers are being "nicely sweetened up", so that they choose to buy streetlighting from this corporation.



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    Re: How does a small company start making LED streetlight drivers?

    The more relevant question is, can anyone without billions behind them, finish in the money - ever?
    Good questions usually do not have good answers. But I just wonder how the Chinese do it. Many of them do fail but they, unsurprisingly, get up again.

    I have a 50W chinese LED module that works off the 220V- I can see 6-7 small chips mounted on the same module. And there is no name and no label. And it works.


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    Re: How does a small company start making LED streetlight drivers?

    Looking at the 'better product' aspect. Consider that even a cheap mobile phone these days can tell you where you are and the time by GPS and from that you can derive the sunrise and sunset times (I do it here) so why not try for a universal 'all mains systems', 'anywhere in the World' universal street light. One you just connect mains to and the rest is automatic. It means a drop in replacement doesn't need configuring, no timers, no light sensors, no maintenance. Mass produced it wouldn't be much more expensive to buy than an existing light but a 'one size fits all' design opens a World wide market with massive marketing reach an hence great savings on manufacturing costs.

    Brian.
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    Re: How does a small company start making LED streetlight drivers?

    customers are being "nicely sweetened up"...
    I do have a theory: sweetness is rather considered. If the customers are being sweetened up, that must be at the cost of the item being sold.

    You can always place an order with a China company and stick your own labels and sell that to the customers who demand sweets.

    (I am an Indian and I know rather well how many common deals are being sweetened as per the demands of the customer)- what cannot be cured must be endured.


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    •   Alt7th March 2018, 17:10

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    Re: How does a small company start making LED streetlight drivers?

    Quote Originally Posted by c_mitra View Post
    what cannot be cured must be endured.
    Wise words, indeed.
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    Re: How does a small company start making LED streetlight drivers?

    Looking at the 'better product' aspect. Consider that even a cheap mobile phone these days can tell you ...
    Well, it can do almost everything except perhaps making a decent phone call (I am surely joking but it is mostly true where I am at present...)

    And the most expensive part of the mobile phone is the display (no, it is not the processor). And the charger is mostly cheap (unless you want one with a sticker)...

    But I do not know how much they spend on ads (TV ads are not cheap here) and indirect marketing. I am told that the dealers get a very sweet commission.

    But one thing I know for sure: they are not designed to last long. All my mobile phones (200 USD > phone > 100 USD) barely lasted one year (none saw the 2nd birthday)...

    I have a BOSCH power drill that is 35 years old; I still use CRAFTSMAN screwdrivers purchased 45 years back (some are borrowed and never returned).

    Somewhere the philosophy of manufacture has changed.


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    Re: How does a small company start making LED streetlight drivers?

    Quote Originally Posted by c_mitra View Post
    Somewhere the philosophy of manufacture has changed.
    It is actually the philosophy to make them so cheaply, that repairing them is quite difficult and costly. Thus the only option is to purchase a new one.

    And if your product is decently made and may last 5 or more years, then the company plays the "device no longer supported" card.
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    Re: How does a small company start making LED streetlight drivers?

    Just imagine the boardroom where someone evidently once said, "We've been fools all these years, built to last is a one-off purchase...And what if we were to make everything last one year, not five, much less ten or twenty, then they'd all have to buy FIVE! Votes in favour?"


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    Re: How does a small company start making LED streetlight drivers?

    Quote Originally Posted by d123 View Post
    Just imagine the boardroom where someone evidently once said, "We've been fools all these years, built to last is a one-off purchase...And what if we were to make everything last one year, not five, much less ten or twenty, then they'd all have to buy FIVE! Votes in favour?"
    And around that board room....



    My impression of this consumer economy.


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