Engineers of Light

Waldmann Lighting

When designing office space, lighting can be a significant factor in the productivity and well-being of workers. Germany-based Waldmann Lighting Group has been at the forefront of innovative designs since its beginnings in 1928. This privately held company develops energy efficient LED, fluorescent and halogen lighting for a diverse range of architectural, office, medical and industrial environments.

The Waldmann Lighting Group focuses on producing quality lighting for a variety of environments.

For industrial applications, the company’s lighting products are created to function in the harshest of environments. The company provides lighting solutions to machine manufacturers all over the world utilizing LED, fluorescent and halogen lights. It has developed workstation lighting, magnifiers and machine lighting for industrial environments.

In office and architectural environments, Waldmann provides energy-efficient, aesthetically appealing lighting solutions. Noted for their aesthetics and energy efficiency, the company’s lighting products offer high performance and functionality. The company has products designed for both interior and exterior applications to address the most critical lighting tasks. This includes everything from tubular to freestanding lighting depending on the needs of the client.

The company also offers a range of customizable arm solutions for OEM (original equipment manufacturer) industrial and medical devices such as digital cameras, flat screen computers, splash guards, microscopes and instruments.

Through its Derungs Medical Lighting Division, Waldmann provides solutions for the medical industry specifically designed for the various environments in a medical facility. Lighting solutions are made for exam rooms, medical offices, patient / resident rooms and various other areas of medical facilities. Products include universal procedure lighting, examination lighting, diagnostic lighting and handheld magnifiers. The company’s magnifiers have a spring-loaded base and middle joint in the arm to allow easy and precise positioning. The magnifier was designed for inspection and assemblies as well as medical procedures and exams.

Jan Schaefer, President of Waldmann USA, and Lou Calvo, Director of Sales and Marketing, spoke about the company, the products it has developed and why good lighting design is important in the development of an office.

Waldmann’s emphasis is on designing and making lighting equipment based on the activities of workers rather than just ceiling-mounted lighting. “We consider ourselves the engineer of light,” Ms. Schaefer says. “We understand lighting, and we understand how it affects people – physically and mentally – so we developed lighting for all sorts of applications, specifically in medical, industrial and office architectural environments.”

Waldmann has established itself as the world leader in LED industrial task lighting. The company’s USA division has been around for over fifty years and is headquartered near Chicago. “We are on track to having our best year ever in terms of sales volume in the US,” shares Mr. Calvo.

Educating consumers and companies about the benefits of LED technology is a challenge that the company faces. “There’s a significant difference in upfront costs when switching to LED technology, but the long-term costs in terms of energy savings and maintenance are lower,” Mr. Calvo explains. “We have to convince end users and owners to focus on not just the initial equipment costs, but the overall long term savings.”

Ms. Schaefer says that the company’s strong sense of responsibility for the environment, sustainability and energy efficiency is what drives its success and innovation. “The difference is we have been doing that for decades,” she says. “We’re not hopping on the bandwagon.”

Developing high-performance products with an aesthetically pleasing, minimalistic design and a focus on usefulness and uniformity in product appearance has been a major focus for the company. “All our newer products have a uniform appearance that is utilized in areas where we want to standardize an OEM or end-user on our equipment throughout their facility,” says Mr. Calvo. “We have products that act in families / tandem in front office and back office applications.”

Ms. Schaefer and Mr. Calvo also explain that Waldmann’s approach is based on the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen. This philosophy focuses on the continuous improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering and business management. Ms. Schaefer says that the company applies the philosophy to its flexibility, meeting the requests of individuals and in seeking technical perfection, product reliability and innovation.

Another way Waldmann has adapted the Kaizen philosophy is in its continuous improvement of its policies and procedures. Procedures are documented to ISO:9001 standards and Waldmann remade its manufacturing processes with an engineering company and, as a result, experienced a nine percent productivity increase in its American and European locations.

Ms. Schaefer explains that the entire value added chain of complex steps, from development and design to the production of individual components and the completed product, is performed in-house at the company. “This is another principle that guides Waldmann’s success,” she says.

And one of the things the company prides itself on is the way employees are a part of the company and its reform process. “A lot of our innovations and ideas come from the employees. We have a wide variety of apprenticeship professions, learned their trade from the ground-up. They have deep seated roots; they consider themselves entrepreneurs within the company.”

The company has also established a continuing education series for subjects such as office design, and will be developing education for senior care facilities. “We are moving from a focus on individual product sales to more of solution-type selling to understand what the needs are of an organization,” Mr. Calvo says. “We have methods of approaching different situations and offer a portfolio of products for those applications such as senior care facilities, laboratories office spaces or health-care facilities.”

Indeed, the company is viewed as an innovator in the lighting industry due to its array of products that address the many needs of its clients. “We’re a name brand [in lighting],” Mr. Calvo says. “Waldmann is known for establishing new product categories that did not exist before.” One of the reasons this is possible is the strong relationships the company has built with its suppliers. “We have close relationships with our suppliers because they are name-brand, quality organizations themselves,” says Ms. Schaefer.

An example of the innovation the Waldmann brings to the industry is a new product that retrofits machine lighting, replacing fluorescent lights with LED lights to save on energy costs. “We plan on launching a significant marketing effort for this product,” Mr. Calvo says. “We will give end users the ability to directly replace the lights without having to reconfigure their machines, mounting or power supplies.”

Another product that emphasizes Waldmann’s approach to individual lighting and energy saving needs is Pulse Talk lighting which eliminates “light islands” – those pools of light in an otherwise dark building. Pulse Talk uses wireless module technology that detects the presence of people, communicates this to other light fixtures in the group and adjusts the lighting levels in that area depending on the amount of people and daylight in a room. The component is designed to be easy to install and program and its settings can be changed at any time.

“It gives an office the ability to light up an entire area rather than just islands of light in a particular area,” explains Mr. Calvo. Light fixtures can be delivered with Pulse Talk, but the system can also be retrofitted at any time.

Another product the company has developed is the Workstation Solutions portfolio. This product is designed for individual workstations in production facilities in departments such as quality control, painting or assembly. “Basically any area where we can illuminate the specific tasks that are taking place,” says Mr. Calvo.

Upcoming projects with which Waldmann is involved include lighting Nike’s headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. “They were visiting us at a trade show, saw our equipment and liked the minimalistic design of our products,” shares Mr. Calvo. “We have an industrial type approach to the designs of our office architectural lighting and Nike liked what we were doing.”

Ms. Schaefer and Mr. Calvo emphasize that the company’s products and innovative ideas will ensure its success into the future because of its simple approach to development and addressing the lighting needs of clients. “Lighting can be workstation-centric, save a tremendous amount of energy and can be aesthetically pleasing,” says Mr. Calvo. And Ms. Schaefer believes that three terms can sum up Waldmann Lighting’s product line: “High quality, functional and durable.”