Art and Science of Illumination
August 29, 2013
Members of the European Lighting Conference Organizing Committee, Włodzimierz Witakowski, Narcyza Barczak-Araszkiewicz and Jan Grzonkowski, Ph.D, talk to Elżbieta Wrzecionkowska about the Lux Europa conference in Poland.
The conference you are organizing is called Lux Europa. Where did the name come from?
Włodzimierz Witakowski: The name itself comes from Latin, of course: lux simply means light, and it is also the unit for measuring light intensity. But Lux Europa isn’t just the name of the conference, it’s also an organization bringing together 20 European lighting associations. The organization has been in existence for over 60 years. Poland has been a member since 2001. There are several regional, so to speak, organizations around the world. There is Lux Europa, but there’s also Lux America and Lux Pacifica. These organizations support the International Commission on Illumination (CIE), a nongovernmental and self-financing organization for international cooperation and exchange of information on all matters related to illumination and lighting.
Lux Europa’s aim is to promote the principles of good illumination and knowledge about lighting on a popular as well as specialist level, chiefly by organizing the European Lighting Conference every four years. The September conference is the 12th meeting so far devoted to the latest achievements and challenges of lighting technology. The fact that it’s being held in Poland is a mark of recognition for our country and our achievements.
What is the goal of the conference?
Włodzimierz Witakowski: I hope the conference will be an opportunity to present the latest scientific and technical achievements. An international committee of experts qualified more than 130 papers for the conference, 25 of them from Poland. Believe me when I say that we didn’t have a wild card as the organizers. All the papers submitted by scientific and technical communities are checked and evaluated very carefully. Most of them present completely innovative solutions. Simply, there is plenty to talk about. Over the past 20 years Polish laboratories have changed completely, and now that Polish scientists have advanced equipment at their disposal they can build modern lighting fittings and light control systems.
The spectrum of topics to be discussed is very wide, starting from energy efficiency, through using LED and OLED technology, to topics involving the area where lighting technology meets medicine or biology. There will be a whole block of topics related to the human aspects of lighting: the physiology of vision, light and heat and the psychological aspects of lighting.
We hope to define current trends during the conference and discuss interesting ideas by young scientists and practitioners. The meeting in Cracow will also be an opportunity to expand existing contacts and establish new ones. Our ambition is to show attractive sites in Cracow and southern Poland to participants from all over the world. With its magnificent historic sites, Cracow is on the UNESCO world heritage list for a reason. We have much to boast about.
Poland’s oldest university, the Jagiellonian University, will open its doors to the participants.
What can Poland contribute to European or global lighting technology in terms of innovation?
: First and foremost its brains, and these are the same everywhere. We often discover this when two papers at a conference present similar solutions. We, Polish people, sometimes don’t know how to use our own ideas, but even this is changing. The new LED and OLED digital technologies offer completely new possibilities, but are still not perfect. For example, we need to solve the problem of blinding light if we want to use them indoors on a mass scale. However, there is great potential there and a chance for scientists, engineers and designers to show off their skills.
What is our industrial potential in this field?
: We have over 30 companies in Poland that manufacture light sources, fittings and design systems. Poland is a major production center in Europe for Philips Lighting, with four factories located in Piła, Pabianice, Kętrzyn and Bielsko-Biała and employing 6,000 people. The local manufacturers, such as ES-System, LUG and Imperial, have been developing very rapidly over the last 20 years, absorbing new technologies and conducting their own research on innovative solutions. ES-System, for example, has three factories, with over 700 employees, manufacturing advanced energy-efficient fittings and lighting systems. All these products are made with optimized energy consumption in mind while also maintaining the required illumination parameters and comfort of vision. Every year the company launches a dozen or so new light fitting systems designed solely by its own design teams and its own technology and implementation department.
Another company, LUG, is one of the biggest manufacturers of industrial fittings in Poland, mainly for illuminating buildings, gas stations and streets. The company, which employs 400, sells its products not just in Poland but also in Scandinavia and the Middle East. In 2005 it opened a branch in Ukraine, and in 2008 the LUG GmbH subsidiary was set up to conduct trading operations on the German market. This year, LUG’s expansion drive reached Brazil.
Polish companies are getting bolder and have no qualms about taking on global market giants. Apart from capital, which is obvious, advanced lighting technology increasingly requires competence, and there is plenty of that in Poland. There is no doubt that we stand a chance of becoming a leading European producer. During the conference all the participants will be able to learn about some of the innovative products offered by Polish companies, at an exhibition set up in the Jagiellonian University’s main lecture theater.