Rail Supply

Illuminating ideas for rail

LED technology company Sonaray is shining a light on rail safety with its latest project with Pacific National.

Sonaray has been providing controlled optic lighting solutions for myriad industries since its founding in 2008. Created as the lighting-focused subsidiary of holding company Dascom, the company is primarily known for its LED lighting solutions.

Sonaray’s light products such as its Delta range of flood lights and Off Grid Solar lights (which offer 17 hours of light from a single charge), are both well suited for railway lighting setups, where optimum visibility is crucial for night operations.

The Delta range is noted for its high-penetration optic lighting, flexible beam angle configurations and easily removable modular driver, which is both upgradeable and interchangeable with all of the company’s lighting lines.

“If you have a 100-watt light and want to improve the brightness to 150-watt, you can swap the 100W driver to the 150W driver easily,” says Dennis Mah, strategy and commercial development manager at Sonaray.

Not only do the drivers provide benefits of upgradability, they are also designed to be modular, so that in cases where the driver fails the whole light fitting doesn’t have to be replaced. In addition, this also benefits the company’s sustainability program by reducing unnecessary wastage.

This technology was recognised by the Good Design Awards in Sydney in 2018, where Sonaray received a Product Design award for its Delta flood lights.

The optic control system uses a combination of chip-on-board (COB) LED chip technology, and optic lenses to customise a solution that can help to improve light control, penetration and light spillage.

This lends the end user greater brightness in areas where it is needed most. This output is measured by lux — the intensity of illumination over a given surface area, not to be confused with lumens — the measurement of total light emitted from the bulb.

This system gives the users more light control when compared to other types of LED lighting.

This system increases lighting efficiency by avoiding light wastage issues associated with the current surface-mounted diode (SMD) chip technology. Even though they produce a greater lumen output, the useable light output is lost through reflectors and diffusers in an attempt to control the light. These can be differentiated by the number of LED chips in the light since SMD has a large quantity of chips whereas COB only has a few.

It is in the area of improved lighting control and efficiency is where Sonaray’s lighting really shines, according to Mah.

“Both lumens and lux are considered to be more efficient units of measurement than wattage, which is more applicable to the traditional bulbs,” he explains.

“Lumens can tell you how much light you’ll get from a particular light source, but not how much light you’ll get over a particular area, but if you’re in an workshop, for example, you don’t necessarily want that light on the walls or on the ceiling, you want it on your bench.”

The lens design has the added benefit of reducing glare, which holds a safety benefit for workers such as train drivers, who might otherwise be temporarily stunned by bright lights.

“If you’re a train driver and you get hit by the light, what happens? You’ll see dots and might get blinded for a while or lose concentration of your train.”

Sonaray lights are modular in design and also offer surge protection of up to 450 watts for the lights, so even if it does blow, that module can be replaced easily without the need to replace the whole light fitting.

The lights are also fully protected from the elements, boasting water resistance, impact resistance and corrosion resistance.

Sonaray is currently using its lighting technology to upgrade the existing infrastructure at Pacific National’s Melbourne yard through a partnership with energy auditor Beacon Solar Solutions. It is one of four Pacific National projects Sonaray is working on in Australia, in addition to works in Adelaide, Perth and Sydney.

Through the implementation of optic lighting with beam angles ranging from 18 to 120 degrees, light can be directed only where required, penetrating further, avoiding spillage onto neighbouring areas and eliminating the need for inefficient, diffusers and reflectors.

This project is intended to improve Pacific National’s environmental OHS by minimising dark spots across the track by retrofitting to the new LED lighting. Around 250 flood lights and 150 street light will be installed as part of the project.

“The client tells us what they want, we design a plan that is appropriate for the area and provide a lighting plan and simulation that shows how much light they can get in a given area,” says Mah.

“Sonaray receives a site plan from the site manager, so that its technicians can utilise existing infrastructure, such as poles and wiring, to create an optimal lighting plan.”

This will lead to significant savings costs to Pacific National. Sonaray estimates that an ongoing project with Pacific National in Melbourne & Adelaide could deliver $100,000 in maintenance cost savings a year on top of the operational electricity cost.

“They were previously using 1000W metal halide that would take a while to turn on, and because of the 30-metre plus heights where they were installed limited lighting was achieved,” explains Mah.

“These kinds of lamps would not only require a boom lift to get someone up there to change the bulbs out, but it would also require a team of qualified electricians, drivers and spotters to change a bulb to boot.”

Sonaray estimates that by replacing 1000-watt halide lamps with a combination of 150-watt and 250-watt Delta LED flood lights, Pacific National could see similar results in Melbourne, saving around 75 per cent in lighting operational costs as soon as the project is completed. While improving the brightness of the whole site.

“By making the switch to us, they basically won’t have any maintenance cost for lighting,” Mah concludes.

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