Amano Haruki, President, Citizen Electronics Co.,(Hong Kong) Ltd.
After having developed an electronic device business focused on LEDs, Citizen Electronics aims to be a solid global company with a passion for manufacturing and spirit for meeting a challenge. In an e-interview with Lighting India, Amano Haruki, President, Citizen Electronics Co.,(Hong Kong) Ltd. is explaining the current scenario of LED lighting market to PK Chatterjee. Excerpts...
How is the LED lighting market shaping up in the developing economies?
The LED conversion ratio in the emerging countries currently is very low, but we expect a rapid growth in the future.
Citizen Electronics is a Japanese company. As an example in Japan, the LED conversion ratio is already more than 70%. In the Western countries the LED conversion ratio has also seen to be around 50%.
We cannot expect the rapid growth that we have been seeing till now but just a gradual growth.
During the introduction period the LED conversion ratio in the developed countries was slow. In the growth period the LED conversion ratio was fast. Now for the emerging countries it looks to have come to the stage of the rapid growth period.
Especially, we could see the expansion is focused on the retrofit (LED Bule/LED Tube) which driven from the direction of reducing power consumption. The introduction of outdoor lighting from the public facility area is also accelerating.
What kind of price battle are you observing in these markets?
CITIZEN focus Chip on Board (COB) as a specialised product line-up. The aforementioned LED Bulb / LED Tube used many SMD type. The price decline in SMD type was highly exceeded expectations.
On the other hand, the applications which require COB include the light distribution control fixture (store lighting, etc) and high wattage fixture (outdoor lighting, stadium lighting, etc). Those applications require the control of light and the quality. There is price decline but it is not similar to the situation that we have seen in SMD.
As our effort to deal with the price decline, not just the raw materials’ cost reduction, we also develop more high-efficiency products, improve the input current value, the Tj-Max, increase the light output (lm/$), the way we follow the market is not just focused on the product unit price.
In general, what are the top demands emerging in the global market as far as the quality of the LEDs is concerned?
The quality requirement of each fixture and application is different. Normally we talk about life and degradation level. However almost all customers follow LM80 as a guideline.
The LED lighting as long life, low power comsumption is not the topic to argue anymore (with the LM80 data), recently “the quality of light” as “the quality” has been the key topic.
In 20** CITIZEN is in the first company to implement Mac Adam 3 step, now it has become the standard requirement in COB. Recently the requests to reduce colour variation such as 2 step have been increased. The matching between fixture and lens has an impact on it but currently the quality requirements on the LED as an engine is regarded as “the quality of light”.
Your company is also into other LED –associated products… How is the growth of the overall segment, and where do you see your company in the next five years?
Currently in the LED lighting, we speculate that our market share in COB is No.1 (our own research). To maintain our share as No.1, we continue our effort to follow market price (high efficiency to achieve lm/$).
On the other hand, we launch new products on new markets and applications through our marketing work, which increase our CITIZEN brand status.
Recently we focused on “strong colour = Vivid” products. We add the technology of “the quality of light” in the fixtures, which are commonly used in stores. In Japan the major manufacturers who already used it have received very good feedback from their customers.
In overseas (mainly Europe) this kind of “quality” the need is high. Such technology has been used in a world’s famous painting.
Others like High Wattage products (for bulky type lighting fixture for example stadium), plant growth special spectrum product, low colour temperature product for port (to replace HTPS), etc. have been our new proposals.
By doing so we can fulfill a variety of needs.
What are the virgin areas where LEDs will witness a great potential soon?
In the area of general lighting the focus is on the outdoor lighting. Due to the high efficiency of LED, the LED products as an alternative to replace 2KW’s HKD is currently released.
Therefore, technically LED is now possible to be used as an replacement of outdoor lighting. Even though cost is the future challenge, there are many large projects led by the government like outdoor lighting (street lamp, flood light, etc) has become the driven force to the LED conversion.
How are you planning to capture those areas?
Like I mentioned earlier, the efficiency improvement in COB is one of the key points. At the same time we tie-up with the related companies who develop accessory parts as we are trying to create an environment for customers who can use COB even more easier. Specifically, speaking the connector, heat sink, lens, reflectors, power supply, etc, a system that we are developing as a solution provider not just the COB.
Do you have any India-specific plan and/or target?
Currently the LED conversion ratio in this market is low, but we expect the maket to grow significantly in the future. From the area of electricity supply to the political guideline the retrofit demand is moving forward quickly. Meanwhile the outdoor market like the public facilities, highway is on the highlight. There are peripheral solutions (connectors, highsink, lens, etc) as a partnership on CITIZEN products which created an environment with many solutions incorporate with COB. Currently in India we have 3 agents (SCI, SETSUYO, NETWORK) to handle daily sales activities.
As we anticipate the market to expand, to establish a local subsidiary is also in our consideration. As one of the most important markets it attracts our attention.
What did you gain from participating in the Guangzhou International Lighting Exhibition (GILE) 2016?
Not just GILE, for nearly 10 years we also participated in major exhibitions which include North America LFI, Europe LB, HKLF. We captured the opportunities to meet a very large number of customers.
We also met exhibitors who are the fixture manufacturers and communicate with them to determine the future lighting trend and direction as this is a very good opportunity.
Smart lighting is kind of good example. In the past (the introduction period) we used it as a place for sales promotion and business negotiation. Recently, we participated as a “Show” to exchange information with related people in very details.
What kind of after-sales service do you offer?
Since CITIZEN is a device manufacturer, unlike the finished product (fixture) we short of the after-sales service concept. However we can support general Warrantly response, others likes FAE that we assigned in different regions and divisions, the process and work advice (Handling precausion) in accordance with the customer requirements.
What are your suggestions to your prospective B2B buyers?
Currently, in each country and region we are doing business with major leading lighting manufacturers. Taking the advantage of it, we can propose a variety of under-developing products in advance and present our products with nearly completion based on customers’ opinions. We also develop application products, spectral tunning technology, modularisation as a light engine which all use COB as a basis. Not just the COB but through the proposal of a variety of application products, the existence value of CITIZEN has been increased.