Lighting is one of those significant yet invisible things in life, like oxygen – you don’t necessarily notice it at first, and you don’t realise how truly important it is until you’re made to notice it through unfortunate events. Lighting is more than just functional; it’s about first impressions, immersive experiences, and just plain ol’ feeling good in a space. Bonus points if all of the above can be achieved through environmentally-conscious practices and solutions.

Gary Reading, General Manager of Specialised Lighting Solutions, knows a thing or two about lights. Having been part of SLS Group for 17 years, Gary is well-versed at finding solutions to almost any lighting dilemma. Here, we talk to him about new tech, innovation, and energy-saving tips.

How is lighting changing the world?

Big question. I guess, in lighting, there’s a huge emphasis now on energy saving. That’s why lighting has completely changed. Ten years ago, fluorescent and metal halide technology was the mainstay, whereas now it’s all LED. It’s more efficient, effective, costs less, and lasts longer.

Sounds perfect. What’s the catch?

The major challenge with LED technology is price deflation and technology redundancy. This is a dangerous combination that has the potential to result in high inventory levels of the wrong type of stock.

What else is new and exciting?

People are starting to appreciate the influence that lighting has on an experience – things are more seamless now. Intuitive. Connected lighting is a new technology where each light fitting will be equipped with a sensor and be able to behave independently to the rest of the lighting installation. Essentially, this means that the light will only consume energy and be lit when it absolutely needs to be. There will also be an opportunity to change the colour temperature lights for different times of the day and for different tasks.

What differences do you see between the types of clients you’re engaged with?

Commercial customers such as retailers care more about the quality of light and the beautification of the store and merchandising. Industrial customers care about meeting minimum lighting level standards whilst having the longest lasting product possible to avoid expensive maintenance and shutdown of manufacturing.

And what are some of the challenges in each sector?

Commercial customers, particularly in retail, quite often change their designs and store schedules which can result in supply and inventory problems. Whereas industrial customers are often remotely located a challenge logistically for supply and installation.

You’re used to dealing with some of Australia’s biggest names, such as Myer, Target, and Kmart; why do you think you’re the go-to name for lighting solutions?

Well, we provide a seamless lighting turnkey for customers. This includes lighting auditing, lighting design, formulation of a business case with an ROI, supply and distribution Australia-wide, project management and installation, and then a multi-year parts and labour warranty guaranteeing ROI. That might be why SLS is Australia’s leading lighting solution provider!

Any parting words of wisdom?

Installers should always allow for the worst case scenario, particularly in regards to hours of access to the site and be ready for change of lighting layouts requested by the customer as the project evolves. Sometimes customers cannot properly visualise what they really want until the installation is progressing. This leads to last minute changes. Installers should be ready for this. Time is of the essence.