Here Steve Dyson, Market Manager at Hager UK discusses pre-fabricated lighting systems and how they play an integral role in future proofing multi-functional buildings. In general, the outlook for construction in various sectors remains something of a mixed bag. According to market analysts Glenigan, the construction of healthcare premises is under particular pressure, largely in light of stringent government controls on NHS spending, and the failure of changes to private finance initiatives to spark new life into the sector. Similar restrictions apply to education, although there is greater optimism for construction in this sector because the sheer force of numbers (e.g. too many pupils, too few school places), meaning that the provision of new premises is quite simply essential. Meanwhile the hotel and leisure building sector, having suffered greatly during the recession as consumers stopped spending on luxury goods, is now bouncing back and construction figures rose year-on-year for each quarter of 2014. This, combined with other drivers of growth such as increased numbers of visitors from abroad, suggests pleasing prospects as the economy recovers. A similar story exists for industrial construction, which was the greatest growth area during 2014 - although expansion is now expected to moderate. Office building, too, is a potential success story for 2015.Changing markets, changing demandsThese statistics and predictions, however, tell only part of the story. The construction industry is changing not merely in terms of demand, but also in other aspects. Increasingly, construction design must meet stringent regulatory requirements, and buildings must be energy efficient as well as cost efficient. There is a very strong demand for faster construction times, the application of lean principles and for buildings that can adapt quickly to the relentless advancements of technology and consumer expectations. In short, construction professionals now need simple solutions that are fast to install, can support the many demands of modern buildings, can be integrated seamlessly into the pressurised project timetable and - perhaps most crucially of all - that are scalable and can adapt to future improvements, changes or extensions to the building they were designed into. Revolutionary systemKlik, which has been widely used throughout the construction industry for more than 30 years, is a range of lighting distribution products, based on a pluggable lighting connection system. When Klik was introduced in 1981, it revolutionised the way in which electrical contractors installed lighting. Fast forward to today, and because it gives a greater flexibility than fixed wiring, speeding up installations and maintenance works, Klik delivers up to a 70 per cent reduction in labour time compared to fixed wiring installation. It is also safer, both when it is installed and throughout its lifecycle.Over the decades Klik has evolved to meet the needs of the construction industry and its associated markets. It has adapted to meet the customers’ increasing requirements for lighting control; including the desire to use digital dimmable ballasts to vary light according to occupancy and the natural light available, through to enabling compliance with building regulations and to maximising energy and cost savings. More recently, Hager introduced the Klik Lighting Control Module (LCM), which offers a flexible and easy plug-and-play solution wherever multi-channel control is needed. Today, Klik comprises a seven pin system that enables switching, control (via KNX, DALI, DSI) and emergency lighting. This, combined with its remarkable ease of installation, makes Klik the ideal solution for buildings that are needed quickly, must support a range of uses and functions, and may need to change, adapt or extend in the future.The advantages of Klik, however, extend far beyond those of its component products. Klik has been designed as a system. With Klik, building professionals get hands-on design support to ensure that the uses and benefits of Klik are integrated into the building, right from the initial planning stages. As the project progresses, bespoke Klik planning software means that lighting changes can be made with maximum efficiency, potential future uses can be allowed for, and precisely the right components can be delivered to the site as needed direct from the manufacturer, fully and clearly labelled to ensure minimal installation time and optimal results.Maximising the benefitsAs mentioned, speed and efficiency are key in the new world of construction. It is also critical to consider the potential for change and expansion in the future. Hager bore this in mind as they developed the various phases of Klik, and consequently designed a process that delivers a seamless, cost effective and high performance lighting solution. It does this right from the start when Hager's specialists work in partnerships with the construction team. Hager can also offer a system design service, incorporating the Klik lighting system that is to be used.During this process, the use of Hager's proprietary design software ensures that all of the elements used comply with regulations and all elements work together beautifully - even if changes have to be made part-way through the project. What’s more, Hager delivers on a specified basis, for example room by room or floor by floor, making it easier to administer and track components and reducing the need for on-site storage.Hager's bespoke software also comes into its own with regard to regulatory compliance. Many of the legally required standards involve complex calculations, which determine appropriate components and arrangements. Hager's software allows the speedy importation of various Klik elements into the client's DWG files, using a 'drag and drop' technique. The software then makes the required calculations in light of this and the rest of the installation, consequently generating appropriate part references.Whatever the nature of the building programme, where Klik is used Hager provide a dedicated support team, available to help the constructor every step of the way and can also provide training and system commissioning, on-site or elsewhere, as required.What next for construction?The construction sector is likely to undergo considerable change in the near future, in terms both of how it works and what it builds. The UK's social/demographic structure is changing, and with it the demand for certain types of build. For example, in the next two decades the numbers of people aged 85 and above will more than double, going from 1.53 to 3.25 million. People in this age group make much greater use of health and social care than most other demographics: the country will need to provide hospitals and other forms of care for them. That means that either new buildings will go up, or existing facilities will be adapted and/or extended. It is a similar story for schools, where demand is booming. In some areas, expansion and/or new construction of education facilities has already begun.Meanwhile, as the economic outlook brightens, it seems reasonable to expect that people will soon, once again, have money to spend on leisure and hotels, while the growth of e-commerce is fuelling new warehouse and distribution facilities. So, there is likely to be an increase in construction and many buildings to extend and adapt in the near future. None of this, however, will dilute the demand for fast, efficient construction and lean business practice, nor will it affect the absolute requirement to comply with regulatory and legal requirements. This combination of opportunity and pressure may prove overwhelming for those who are unable to streamline their supply chains and processes enough to reduce build time and assure quality. For those in the construction industry who are truly committed to success, there is Klik.
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