Sumit Joshi, Signify Innovations India: 3D printed luminaires for its circular economy.

Sumit Joshi, Signify Innovations India: 3D printed luminaires for its circular economy.

Sumit Joshi helms the South Asia operations of Signify Innovations India—formerly Philips Lighting India—the world’s top lighting products, systems and services provider. He took on this...

Sumit Joshi helms the South Asia operations of Signify Innovations India—formerly Philips Lighting India—the world’s top lighting products, systems and services provider. He took on this role in September 2017 after proving his mettle in leadership marketing roles based out of India and the Netherlands. In his current position, Joshi has led flagship launches such as the EcoLink luminaires and fans brand and, more recently, 3D printed luminaires. Joshi has two decades of experience in marketing and business spanning diverse brands—Signify and, previously, Britannia, Marico, Boots Healthcare International, Whirlpool Corporation and Force Motors. He has successfully led global multimillion dollar capital projects, multicultural teams across various geographies and functions including sales, channel development (B2C, B2B and B2G domains), product marketing, product development, brand marketing, marketing and communications, public relations and manufacturing. Joshi counts people leadership and his dual focus on business and people as a key skill. In conversation with CW, he discusses the cutting-edge developments at Signify that are outcomes of the company’s deep understanding of the Indian market; advancements he expects will grow the India business. With the commercial office segment suffering a setback owing to the pandemic, where do you see growth opportunities for Signify in 2021-22? To what extent are you dependent on growth in urban real estate and on institutional sales? What sorts of institutions are driving your sales in India? We envision growth opportunities for Signify from the perspective of driving the adoption of innovation and technology, not by audience segment. We are driven to meet customer needs in a way that provides best value over the years, not just today. That’s why globally we invest 4.5 per cent of our sales into product R&D. Coming to innovation, we foresee opportunities in furthering climate action, a circular economy and one that contributes to increased food availability, safety and security, and health and wellbeing. For instance, our products for a circular economy include our recently launched 3D printed luminaires—tailored products with half the carbon footprint of a traditionally manufactured metal luminaire. These luminaires make use of recycled material, such as old CDs, to create products that are themselves recyclable. In the area of food availability, our horticulture lighting helps city farmers to boost crop yield and quality while lessening the distance from farm to fork. Underwater, our lamps contribute to more efficient and sustainable fish farming. Our innovations for safety and security include special outdoor lighting to help keep communities safe without disturbing nocturnal animals. Another example is our range of LiFi (Lighting Fidelity) technology that combines light with high-speed, reliable and secure wireless internet connectivity. Quite simply, it is internet through lights. From airplanes to kindergartens, hospitals to banks, wherever there is light, there is a secured wireless connection. Trulifi by Signify, launched in 2018, is the world’s fastest commercial LiFi luminaire at up to 250 mbps—truly, high-speed broadband data connection through light waves! We’ve completed more than 150 Trulifi installations. Customers include Incubex in Bangalore, Orange in Paris and Atea in Stavanger. Signify is even installing Trulifi on buses and is working with French company Latécoére to provide Trulifi for aircrafts. In the health and wellbeing space, we have lighting to make you see, feel and function better. Our lighting also protects. We have a new range of UV-C disinfection products that inactivate bacteria and viruses in the air, on surfaces of objects, including the virus causing COVID-19. We are focusing on expanding this category to offer more stringent protection to those who need it the most. The world is moving towards standardised simple products but you are moving towards on-demand tailored luminaires. Why? The implications of bespoke luminaire manufacturing services are huge for customers, companies and the climate. Our 3D printed luminaires have a 47 per cent lower carbon footprint than traditionally manufactured metal luminaires, excluding electronics and optics. The final product weighs two-thirds the weight of a conventional luminaire. All this translates into a 35 per cent carbon emission reduction over transportation as more products can be shipped together. Nearly every component of these luminaires may be reused or recycled at the end of their life and repurposed into new designs, thereby supporting the concept of a circular economy. Switching to the 3D printing of luminaires can also help companies meet their sustainability goals and allows them the flexibility to co-create their lighting products with endless options for customisation. Moreover, customers can also refresh their lighting design by returning their luminaires to have them recycled and reprinted in newer designs, enabling them to stay current and topical. As these luminaires are printed on demand and as per the customer’s specific requirements, they eliminate the cost of adjustments or ceiling modifications during installation. Last year, Signify invested 4.5 per cent of its global sales on R&D and its latest innovative bet is on LiFi. You have installed seven pilot LiFi stations in India across different segments. You are also aiming to earn 80 per cent of your revenue from sustainable products. Please tell us more about these installations in India. India has tremendous potential for LiFi as millions of internet devices are being added into the connected ecosystem every day, causing congestion in radio networks. With more digital content being consumed through mobile devices, in the future, consumers will demand a faster internet connection that can be easily enabled. Here, LiFi can play a huge role. Our ongoing pilot programmes are running across different segments, including banks, IT offices, co-working spaces, B2G (buildings to grid) and infrastructure, among others. We were specially invited by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Gujarat government to showcase LiFi as a futuristic technology at the Vibrant Gujarat 2019 summit, which received a footfall of 25,000 delegates, including central and state ministers, several corporate houses and government officials. Signify has invested in 3D printing facilities in India, one of only five countries (US, Belgium, the Netherlands and Indonesia are the others) where you have created such facilities. What does that say about your India plans? What makes you bullish about growth in India? In alignment with the Government’s ‘Make in India’ and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ agenda, we have set up a 3D printing manufacturing facility at our lighting factory in Vadodara, and a design lab at our R&D centre in Noida. We have established large global R&D units, the Philips Lighting Innovation Centre in Noida (NCR) and the Philips Innovation campus (PIC) in Bengaluru, to work on emerging lighting technologies not just for India but for global markets. Consequently, we design and manufacture in India more than 98 per cent of what we sell in the country. Our focus on 3D printed luminaires is driven by the ability of the technology to best serve customers while reducing their and our own carbon footprint, and to further responsible consumption and production (SDG12). It is a key element of Signify’s commitment to double its circular revenues to 32 per cent by 2025, as part of the Brighter Lives, Better World 2025 programme launched in September 2020. 3D Printing is truly a triple bottomline technology—it is good for the climate, consumers and companies. Therefore, we are confident of its success in all of our markets. Signify’s biggest categories are LED lighting in both professional and consumer applications. Tell us about your new range of products for the consumer segment, like the Philips T Beamer, Philips CeilingSecure and Philips EyePro Bulb. Also, describe the progress of products for professional users, such as Interact and LiFi. Over the past few years, the Indian lighting industry has undergone significant transformation owing to the arrival of LED lighting. LEDs have transformed lighting from analogue to digital and, as a result, lighting has become more energy-efficient and intelligent. This has opened up a whole new range of applications that have never been seen before, such as LiFi and connected lighting. The digital capabilities of LEDs enable tremendous customisation of light output and application. LED technology has also brought illumination and the Internet of Things (IoT) together, allowing lighting systems to participate in IoT. This is the concept behind our Interact portfolio that marks the transformation of lighting from a commodity product to a fully integrated lighting system that can seamlessly connect with a wireless network or Ethernet, and can capture and transmit data between devices. It can also offer data insights and analytics, thereby enabling users to measure and control operational efficacy. This can have multiple applications in smart cities, buildings and homes, making lighting more intelligent and personalised. LED is big for us. In 2012, only 22 per cent of our overall sales were from LED products while now almost 80 per cent of our portfolio is LED. Today, we sell more LED lighting solutions than any other company and hold more than 19,500 LED patents. Another concept that is quickly becoming mainstream is nature-inspired lighting. These lighting products mimic nature’s light distribution and colour temperature design to offer maximum comfort to humans. We recently introduced the Philips EyePro range of LED bulbs in the Indian market. This range features patented Interlaced Optics technology to enhance eye comfort. Its design, inspired by the pattern of sunflower seeds, diffuses and reflects light so as to reduce glare by up to 35 per cent and ensure no visible flicker. With customer centricity at the heart of all our innovation, we have also introduced LED products designed specifically for India, based on insights and consumer behaviour typical to the Indian market. India is one of the biggest tube-light markets in the world, with consumers using at least one tube light on average to illuminate a room in their household. Now consumers are increasingly replacing their conventional tube lights with LED battens but this upgrade requires elaborate installation and invariably damages walls. To address this gap, Signify has introduced the innovative Philips T-Beamer that offers a wide light spread like an LED batten, but which can be easily installed in an existing LED bulb socket. Similarly, CeilingSecure, our latest launch in the downlighter category, addresses an important consumer need—pain-free installation without any ceiling damage. You mentioned your commitment to double your circular revenues from products that can be reprinted, refurbished, reused or recycled, to 32 per cent in 2025. What percentage of your revenue will come from the circular business in India? Do products contributing to circular revenue cost more than others? What is the price differential? Sustainability is part of our DNA. Our product lines are designed to support a circular economy and aim to reduce the burden on our customers by being competitively priced. Signify has launched an LED range of products, Philips Ujjwal, to cater to the rural market, offering better price value suited to their budget. The technical specifications of these products have been specially designed keeping in mind rural lighting requirements and preferences. Please elaborate. As a result of government electrification schemes like Saubhagya, remote towns and villages now have access to electricity. Moreover, with rising rural incomes and the penetration of media, aspirations and awareness about new products among rural households have increased over the last few years. Most rural households still use conventional lighting on a large scale owing to the comparatively higher prices for LED products. However, we are now witnessing a small yet steady demand for LEDs from these areas. We have created an exclusive LED range of products called Philips Ujjwal to cater to this audience, offering a better price value to suit their budget and technical specifications specially designed for rural lighting requirements and preferences. How can solar lighting be popularised among real-estate developers? Solar lighting is a sustainable urban lighting solution and can help conserve energy at a time when it is most needed. As per a study by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water in October 2020, merely 0.33 per cent of Indian households are exclusively relying on off-grid electricity sources such as solar home systems, solar mini-grids and battery storage. We need policymakers to push this segment by encouraging a minimum percentage of new developments to have solar lighting connectivity. Although domestic production has been incentivised, the import duty on solar lighting components should be reduced to significantly increase adoption.- CHARU BAHRI

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