Valtavalo Ltd has developed a service to complement the LED tubes it manufactures that encourages companies and the public sector to replace fluorescent tubes with an alternative that saves both energy and money.
Energy-efficient and long-lasting LED lights are now rapidly taking over the market from energy-consuming light bulbs. Located in the city of Kajaani, Valtavalo develops and manufactures LED tubes, which consume approximately 65% less energy than conventional fluorescent tubes.
According to company’s chief executive officer Markku Laatikainen, Valtavalo’s clientele is primarily comprised of large organisations and the public sector. Among the company’s thousands of customers are local authorities, industry, commercial properties, hospitals and government agencies.
“There are plenty of potential markets for LED tubes, as fluorescent tubes are the predominant type of lighting used almost everywhere except in households. We are especially focused on places where the lights are left on for long periods of time. That’s where LED lights provide the biggest savings,” says Laatikainen.
He notes that there is a quick return on the investment in LED tubes. “If the lights are on all the time, they will typically pay for themselves in anywhere from six months to a year. In large facilities, the annual electricity bill will drop by tens or even hundreds of thousands of euros.”
Long service life a competitive edge
Founded in 2008, Valtavalo initially had its light tubes manufactured by a contract manufacturer in China. However, problems with product quality and delivery reliability got the company thinking about whether it would be better to move production to Finland. At a cost of one million euros, the automated production plant in Kajaani was a major investment for the small company, but it turned out to be the right choice.
Valtavalo has risen to become the leading manufacturer of LED tubes in the Nordic countries. The company’s strong market position is the result of in-house product development, co-operation with testing and research facilities and a short supply chain to the customers. According to Laatikainen, high quality is Valtavalo’s biggest competitive advantage. The service life of LED tubes manufactured by the company is 125,000 hours, while competing products typically need replacing after around 50,000 hours. Valtavalo also offers a 7-year warranty on its products.
Products complemented by a service concept
Quality is also crucial to the service offered, which Valtavalo has built around its products in Finland. Instead of just purchasing LED tubes, the customer can enter a service agreement, where Valtavalo is committed to maintaining and managing the customer’s lighting needs during the five-year agreement period. Laatikainen explains that the customer pays a monthly fee for the service:
“The customer’s initial investment is precisely zero euros and they save money right away, thanks to the lower electricity consumption.”
According to Laatikainen, most companies and public sector organisations are considering making the move to energy-saving and low-emission LEDs. Many, however, still opt for solutions with a heavier environmental impact. “For example, in public procurement, decisions are still being made based on the lowest purchase price – alternatives should be considered throughout the product’s life cycle based on the costs incurred.”
Continuous development is vital
Laatikainen believes that the same laws that apply in the cleantech market also apply to other sectors. Small companies in particular are rarely able to compete on price, so they have to make themselves stand out from competitors by other means. In his opinion, continuous product development is key. For example, Valtavalo is the first company to introduce a fully flicker-free LED tube, developed in the light of studies that showed that the flickering of lights can cause headaches and fatigue, affecting people’s well-being and health.
“The flickering disturbs concentration at work and decreases comfort. It also affects eye movement. Reading in flickering light slows the reading speed down, among other things”, explains Laatikainen.
Text by Matti Remes
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