In the trials and tribulations of the IoT lighting industry, ams Osram has sold another part of what it calls its digital systems operations to Acuity Brands, renowned LED lighting equipment that appears to be going through its own. resetting smart lighting efforts.
Atlanta-based Acuity has agreed to acquire the North American business of Digital Systems, which develops and manufactures LED drivers, LED light motors, electronic ballasts and components for Internet connectivity. The hardware, including the drivers, allows smart technologies to be integrated into luminaires and paired with smart lighting controls.
The acquisition includes approximately 1,100 employees and the Ams Osram plant in Monterrey, Mexico. Neither company would disclose the price paid by Acuity. Both said the deal is expected to be concluded this summer.
IoT lighting – also called “connected lighting” because it is connected to an internal network and / or to the Internet – has been the industry’s elusive brass ring for half a decade or more. While there were some shining moments and a few stellar installations, vendors overall had only limited success in convincing building operators and other customers to outfit lights and lighting infrastructure with sensors, Ethernet cables and wireless communication chips. These programs are intended to help retailers engage shoppers with personalized discounts; to help any building operator track assets to guide people to locations; provide information on the use of buildings through data analysis; and offer a myriad of other benefits.
Under new owner ams, based in Premstaetten, Austria, Osram seems to have lost some excitement with the idea as the company emphasizes chip-level operations (including a “quantum” chip), a strategy that fits well with the traditional purpose of ams. be as a manufacturer of sensors.
North American sale to Acuity marks ams Osram’s latest withdrawal from the connected lighting industry, a retreat that LED magazine predicted since the summer of 2019 at the start of ams’ marathon effort to acquire Osram.
Ams was successful in his quest to buy the Munich-based lighting icon last July, and the CEO of the combined company, Alexander Everke, has now said that IoT lighting is neither essential nor strategic for businesses. ams Osram goals. In February of this year, the company sold a digital systems factory in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
Digital Systems, or DS, is part of a larger business group at Osram called Digital, or DI. The similarity of the names can be confusing, so, to be clear, Acuity did not take any non-DS parts of DI. The umbrella group DI includes a division Osram calls Connected Building Automation, or CBA, that is home to the once famous but now forgotten Lightelligence IoT initiative. Acuity has not acquired CBA or Lightelligence, an Acuity spokesperson confirmed for LED. It is unclear what Ams Osram’s long-term plans are for these.
DI continues to include Fluence, ams Osram’s horticultural lighting company, and its Traxon architectural, facade and general lighting unit, which are performing well and could remain in the business. DI also includes entertainment lighting for cinemas and theaters, which malfunctioned during the pandemic.
For its part, Acuity seems to be revamping its approach to connected lighting and smart controls. The company was a pioneering deployer, having installed indoor positioning and customer engagement testing systems at retail giant Target in 2015, if not earlier. By 2019, it had reached many Target stores by 1845.
During this time he had also implemented an IoT software and services program called Atrius which at LED magazines the last count a few years ago included dozens of partners. It was the centerpiece of Acuity’s IoT, but the company hasn’t released a press release from Atrius since late 2018, so far as LED have noticed. Former IoT chief Greg Carter left in the summer of 2019, and Audwin Cash, who has taken over some of Carter’s IoT responsibilities, has also left the company, a spokesperson for the company has confirmed. ‘Acuity.
Since then, a new CEO, Neil Ashe, replaced former boss Vernon Nagel in January 2020. And the coronavirus pandemic has struck with its negative impact on the commercial market.
Signs of a new direction for IoT emerged two weeks ago, when Acuity announced that it had brought in Peter Han, an artificial intelligence and intellectual property finance specialist, to lead. what the company now calls Intelligent Spaces Group. In the announcement, Acuity said the group was previously called Intelligent Buildings Business and includes Atrius as well as the Distech Controls unit.
Han ran Seattle-based Rockpile Ventures, which Acuity describes as an AI incubator where Han was co-founder with Dinesh Narayanan, who also joined Acuity as vice president of business development for Intelligent Spaces, where Han is chairman reporting to Ashe. .
Acuity also took over Rockpile’s stakes in AI startups, and noted that “Rockpile’s portfolio technologies have been deployed in leading companies in the energy, manufacturing and retail sectors. by retail “.
LEDs asked Acuity for more information on Rockpile’s development and how Acuity could use AI to support smart lighting or smart building initiatives. The company has told us little so far, but has indicated it will say more soon.
Seems likely Acuity could use AI – whatever the AI – expand its range of smart buildings beyond lighting. Notably, Acuity Brands now describes itself, like an elevator, as a “market-leading industrial technology company.” The “lighting” world does not appear in this eye-catching line.
But lighting is certainly at the heart of the acquisition of North America Digital Systems’ operations from ams Osram.
“We look forward to serving ams Osram’s North American DS commercial customers and providing our industry with the most advanced portfolio of digitally connected integrated LED lighting and driver technologies,” said Trevor Palmer, president of the Acuity Brands Lighting and Controls business.
The ams Osram DS business will be part of Acuity Digital Lighting Networks, led by Senior Vice President Sarah Golish, who reports to Palmer, an Acuity spokesperson said. LED. Gilles Abrahamse, vice president of digital lighting components, will be involved in product management, reporting to Golish as part of Digital Lighting Networks. Osram ams products join Acuity’s existing line of eldoLED drivers and IOTA emergency drivers.
If Acuity does indeed redesign its approach to the IoT market, it certainly wouldn’t be the first lighting company to do so, as the industry is constantly looking for a formula that will help it transform into a technology market in which it has to compete. against dyed-in-wool technology companies.
HALPER BRAND is editor-in-chief for LEDs Magazine and journalist specializing in energy, technology and business ([email protected]).
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