Seeing the Light

Vision X Lighting

When it comes to specialized industrial lighting, the team at Vision X Lighting lights up far more than the proverbial room. From lighting up outer space to structural applications, marine lighting, and even mining, there are very few industries that this company hasn’t had the opportunity to illuminate.
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Judging by its sturdy track record, this is indeed no ordinary lighting company. Thanks to its passion for next-generation testing techniques on every light that leaves its factories, Vision X Lighting’s products work perfectly from the moment they leave their specialized packaging – every time.

Pushing boundaries and sharing extensive industry expertise are this company’s strong suits. As such, Vision X Lighting prefers to innovate rather than to order in. Thanks to this notion, it serves a diverse international client base. Its main distribution facility for North America operates from its headquarters in Seattle, Washington, and its Research & Development facility is also based here. This division is fully equipped to build prototypes and do small manufacturing runs. Prototypes are also shipped to customers from here, while larger quantities are manufactured at one of its facilities abroad. These include two manufacturing plants, one in Seoul, South Korea and one in Shanghai, China.

The company’s 130,000 square foot facility in Seoul takes care of product testing as well as high production runs. This single facility provides stock for all 57 Vision X Lighting distributors and marketing and sales partners across an estimated 127 countries. These partners include Vision X Europe, Vision X South Africa, and a host of other operators who all sell throughout their regions. The company’s main Seoul fabrication plant is also fully equipped with light tunnels for in-depth light testing that is all carefully documented in order to share the diagnostics with customers.

The latest addition to the company’s facility portfolio is in Shanghai, an operation which houses a next-generation specialty plant that focuses on original equipment manufacturing (OEM).

Vision X’s large range of global industries brings in around 70 percent of the company’s annual revenue. In an effort to expand its capabilities even further, the company recently launched its Structural Lighting Division, which provides construction companies, fuel companies, and many others with application-specific lighting that is certified by the DesignLights Consortium® (DLC), a not-for-profit, industry standards organization that strives to promote quality and integrity throughout the lighting fabrication business. This division has only been running for a year and a half but is already an overnight success thanks to the company’s attention to detail and rigorous testing.

“We are really good at adapting LED technology,” says Nick Irwin, Vision X Vice President. “One of the things we try to do when we engineer a product is to make sure that our housings can be adapted [to suit] new LED technology. We’re not waiting to introduce a new model; we rather introduce upgrades naturally with the progression of LED [technology]. Typically, if we launch a new light in January, it would have improved by about six percent by December,” he explains.

With this in mind, the company specializes in creating solutions like equipment lighting that ensure safer, more productive work environments and vehicles. Here, expert engineers design and oversee manufacturing to ensure that desired outcomes match customer specifications perfectly.

It is this drive for innovation that motivates everything Vision X Lighting does. The team prefers working onsite and will typically travel to customer facilities to research their exact needs before returning to the laboratory to design the appropriate solutions. While the team still services older types of lights in the field like halogen and high-intensity-discharge (HIDs) lamps that are traditionally used in vehicle headlights, for instance, trends are fast moving toward the ever-growing light-emitting diode (LED) lighting market. The reason for this is that older forms of lighting are more costly – and certainly, less efficient.

It is believed that the basic concept of LED was discovered around 1901, but it only made its first real appearance in 1962 when Nick Holonyak Jr. developed the first light-emitting diode. Today, modern LED lights still consist of diodes containing a couple of connected semi-conductors. These need a specific voltage in order to generate light and are known as an anode – the positive connection through which current streams into the circuit – and a cathode, which is the negative conductor through which current leaves the circuit. Thanks to a function known as electro-luminescence, the conductors emit light when a suitable voltage is introduced into the circuit.

The energy efficiency of LEDs can be ascribed to the fact that it generates more light than heat as opposed to older types of globes that did the opposite. LED lights are not only more versatile but offer better visibility, are tougher, last much longer and are much less expensive to run. These lights lend themselves especially well to different color temperatures and can even change color to suit different work environments. For instance, yellow and amber light cut through dust better, while laboratory environments need a higher color temperature for better visibility. To achieve this, Vision X Lighting works closely with companies like Luminus Devices and Cree, its two largest LED suppliers, to create the desired color effects for each industry it serves.

LED applications are limitless, and therefore Vision X Lighting’s lights are made to suit the specific challenges of each industry that it serves, resulting in a diverse clientele. Originally known as Vision Motor Sports, the company continues to have a strong presence in the recreational vehicle sector, and its products can be found on boats, off-road vehicles, UTV/ATVs, and even street-legal cars and motorcycles. Many of its team members are off-road fanatics themselves and so have an intimate understanding of the challenges and gripes that are common amongst enthusiasts and professionals in the sport. As a result, the company serves businesses throughout the automotive aftermarket with specialized lights for off-road vehicles.

Vision X’s industrial division, meanwhile, provides floodlighting, lighting for underground jumbo drills, heavy duty lights that illuminate entire facilities, lighting for improved visibility on bulldozers, and a host of other purpose-specific applications. Its offering also includes maritime vessel lighting, equipment lighting for loading and unloading containers as well as agricultural lighting for tree harvesting equipment. The company also manufactures FireTech LEDs for HiViz, a leader in lighting for firefighting departments and other emergency services.

But it wasn’t always a lighting giant. What started out in 1997 as a small car stereo shop quickly transformed into a force to be reckoned with when the company started importing lights for enthusiasts who fell under the spell of the Fast and Furious craze. The demand for imported lights grew so significantly that the company quickly started supplying other retailers. Over time, lighting sales evolved to the point where customers were requesting custom manufactured, bespoke lighting. This was when the company started engineering and tooling all of its own products.

There were many memorable moments along the way and the team knew they had raised the bar when a call from Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, resulted in a collaboration on NASA’s lunar roving vehicles (LVRs). “[At first] it was really funny because the employee who answered their initial call misinterpreted what the lady on the phone said when she introduced herself. He asked her whether she was calling from Johnson Bass Center, thinking it was a car audio shop selling bass speakers,” Nick says with a smile. Luckily, it only took a few moments to clarify the source of the call that was to become the opening conversation for a project in space lighting thought leadership. The company developed its LED light bar for NASA’s Back to the Moon mission project.

It is thanks to showcase projects such as this that Vision X’s hard work is paying off. To continue providing its customers with the best care and service possible, Vision X is always improving its systems. To this end, a little over 18 months ago, the company implemented its first SAP system, a German software tool that allows for bespoke computing designed to meet companies’ exact data needs. This revolutionary new approach has been part of the reason for its robust 25 percent growth rate over the past year.

Of course, without its capable partners and staff, this success would not have been possible at all. Vision X’s sterling global team consists of around 155 people dedicated to delivering best-in-class industry solutions that truly stand the test of time. Certainly, continuous education forms an important part of the company’s ethos. Both its management teams and staff keep themselves up to date with the latest industry knowledge and skill sets to ensure that customers always benefit from expert guidance on the best methods and processes to suit their individual projects.

And Vision X is every bit as creative when it comes to philanthropy as it is in its innovation. Not afraid of doing things differently, the company is an active participant in a number of local charity drives. One of these projects is its annual Vision X Night Match Classic that started out in 2016. Last year, this third annual action shooting match was hosted at the Paul Bunyan Rifle & Sportsman’s Club in South Hill, Washington and the evening proved to be another great hit. This year’s match saw 60 more shooters than 2017’s event come from all over the United States to partake in this exciting evening shootout. Participants go through a number of different stages of timed target shooting before the person with the best times wins. The results were greatly rewarding, as the 2018 Vision X Night Match Classic raised in excess of $10,000 for the Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots Foundation, thanks to the generosity of all involved. The event was the brainchild of Jeff Snope of Northwest Safe Company and has become Vision X’s largest annual charity event since its inception.

“Doing it at night makes it really special, as most of these matches take place during the day. At night it’s all lit up, making it a unique event. There aren’t many of them around,” says Nick.

Thanks to the rapid evolution of technology, the future appears to have a lot more in store for this industry leader than many markets may be prepared for. At the rate that tech has been taking over historically human tasks in the past decade, there’s a good chance that Vision X Lighting may soon be manufacturing more lights for artificial intelligence systems (AI) than for humans. “A lot of the equipment is becoming autonomous,” Nick explains. “I see the industry shifting to where lighting is used for machine vision, with sensors on machines [to enable] ‘visibility’ of objects around them. I see us making more lighting for machines than for people in the next 10 years.”

To achieve this goal successfully, one of the company’s main priorities now is to utilize its new SAP data system to integrate its global partners and franchise holders, enabling and easing international collaboration between operations. These are certainly exciting times for this industry and we look forward to shedding more light on Vision X Lighting’s sure-to-be exponential growth in the future.

May 25, 2019, 5:31 AM EDT

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