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Fri 12 Nov 2010 12:00 AM

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Lights on

Leviton Middle East technical support manager: LMS Motaz H. Al Batta talks about energy efficiency.

Lights on

AUS manufacturer, Leviton is over a century old, having started out with a small factory in New York City. Founder Isidor Leviton, a friend of Thomas Edison, manufactured the very first lampholder for Edison’s invention, beginning a rich history of innovation.

“After 100 years, the company has around 26000 items in its product line-up,” says Al Batta. The company is divided into four divisions, namely network solutions, lighting and energy management systems, wiring accessories and commercial and industrial.

In 2008, the company decided to increase its international representation, and officially opened its Dubai head office in January 2009 for the MENA and India region. “It is a leader in the North American electrical market, so why not expand its presence?” Not content to rest on its laurels, the company has since opened an office in Bangalore to target the Indian market, which Al Batta describes as potentially lucrative. Further expansion into Europe and the Far East is on the cards for 2011.

Al Batta says he has a decade’s experience in LV systems, having worked with such well-known manufacturers like Trane and Beckhoff Automation, including a five-year stint with system integrators in Kuwait. “My experience has mainly been with LV systems and solutions such as BMS, CCTV, remote monitoring, access and lighting controls and home automation,” explains Al Batta, who joined Leviton when it started up in Dubai.

“My division, lighting and energy management solutions, has gained considerable traction due to the global crisis, as customers want to save rather than spend money. With our solutions, you can accrue green building points for LEED, which is a growing trend locally and abroad,” says Al Batta. Occupancy sensors, for example, are simple but effective products that are ideal for common areas, corridors and lift lobbies to keep lights and HVAC off when these are unoccupied.

Awareness of energy efficiency varies from country to country. “In the UAE, government authorities such as DEWA are asking contractors and consultants to go in this direction, which has opened up the market for us as everybody is looking for green solutions.”

In terms of strategy, Al Batta says: “Leviton is a US-based manufacturer. When we took the decision to start our Middle East operation, the first step was to study the market for six months and listen to customers’ needs; then we worked on changing the product range to comply with the latest technologies.”

After this initial period of adaptation, the company has now reached a stage where it is continually introducing new products, such as LevNet, a wireless and batteryless lighting management solution, while GreenMax can be integrated directly with a BMS without the need for third-party devices. “Next year we intend to launch SectorNet, an intelligent fluorescent ballast system, equivalent to DALI technology, but with higher specifications and speeds,” says Al Batta.

Has the fast pace of development boosted energy efficiency? Al Batta says it important to understand that energy efficiency is a single aspect of green building, which requires a holistic approach to maximise savings. “Energy efficiency is a broad topic. Leviton, for example, focuses exclusively on lighting. This is a promising market segment that is highly competitive, with a lot of technologies and products.

“I do not think there is sufficient awareness of energy efficiency. In the Middle East, it is more prevalent in the UAE. In Saudi Arabia, they are now starting to look at it on the government side, in terms of the environmental aspects. Saving energy does not necessarily mean saving money; this is the case in Dubai, but not in Kuwait. However, the ultimate benefit does accrue to the government, as it will reduce the number of new power stations, which cost millions.

“This is what Leviton is doing: generating awareness about the benefits of energy efficiency, and targeting both the government and private sectors. It is not so much a push to sell as it is about elevating the concept of energy efficiency, saving costs and helping the environment,” says Al Batta.

Commenting on current growth, Al Batta says the main opportunities are in the retrofit sector, due to the slowdown in new build. “Everybody is looking to refurbish existing buildings, which is the main focus now.

“Leviton is constantly striving to position itself in this sector, and keep the market updated with the latest technology in lighting solutions,” concludes Al Batta.

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