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Lighting focus: ‘Integrators must add value’

Doug Tuttrup, a project manager/trainer in ETC's Technical Services department, offers his thoughts on the latest trends and developments in the lighting sector.

Doug Tuttrup, a project manager/trainer in ETC’s Technical Services department, offers his thoughts on the latest trends and developments in the lighting sector.

What do you think is the most exciting technology in lighting at the moment?

Colour. The way we talk about colour, the way we use colour and the way we perceive colour is changing. A new dialogue has to happen between the artistic/creative professionals and the technical people who are making that colour happen. The change from a subtractive medium to an additive medium is bringing with it a whole new discussion.

What three pieces of advice would you give to an integrator looking to move into the lighting world?

First, and most importantly, integrators need to make sure they’re adding value.

Second, product lifespans are shrinking and signal/control protocols are changing rapidly. Integrators have to stay up-to-date before and during a project. Changes and discontinuance mid-project are common.

Third, an integrator needs to find reputable manufacturers who stand by their products, at the time of the sale and beyond. “We don’t support that anymore” isn’t a value at any price.

In lighting projects, what factors are most commonly overlooked?

With LEDs, ‘dimmable’ has a wide definition. The ability to dim in view, set and forget, smoothly fade up and smoothly fade out are all considerations based on use. From the technical side, the means for dimming fixtures is an important study in reviewing load schedules, datasheets and control systems to make sure they’re all compatible. It’s essential that the drivers are supplied as specified and that control systems are co-ordinated to match specified products. It’s a tough world. Today’s integrators have to solve problems that haven’t been invented yet.

Clients need to work with a supplier experienced in the type of installation being done. ETC can help with tying disparate technologies together, and we serve as an asset to integrators, because we’re a fully-staffed supplier with the resources to assist in systems integration.

Tell us about a favourite recent installation your company has been involved with.

I’m involved in so many installations, from the biggest theme parks to the smallest schools. They’re all exciting in their own way, whether it’s a tiny house of worship, a Las Vegas-style show or a theme park. We can help people with their mission, and can fulfil their dreams by doing a really great system. That’s what makes each installation special to us.

We’re currently working on a big theme park expansion. It’s beautiful and we’re thrilled to be part of the project, because we know that guests are going to love it. At the same time, just two weeks ago I finished turning on a small church system, which consisted of just a Unison DRd dimmer rack, a handful of Selador Desire fixtures and some LED retrofit lamps. The end users are ecstatic about it. It’s helping with their mission, which is just as special to us.