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Executive Interview

Q&A With Lumileds’ Dave Illes

Illes, director of Sales & Marketing, NA, Lumileds, talks about innovation, new products and collaboration.

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How has the coronarvirus pandemic changed the way Lumileds runs as an organization?

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We have always had a very cohesive global structure and were well acquainted with the need to collaborate closely from a distance. With the safety of our team being of the utmost importance, we have had all our North American automotive functions working remotely. We all miss the camaraderie of working together in the office, but we have not missed a beat leveraging Microsoft Teams and other IT resources to stay connected with customers and each other. I’m incredibly proud of the way our team has managed through these extraordinary circumstances, and the strength that they have shown.

Operationally, our team has done an outstanding job of communicating with our factories in Asia and Europe. We have had to be creative with our logistics flows due to pandemic-driven challenges, but we have been able to maintain on-time fill-rates above 96% throughout this period.     

What sorts of changes has the company made in order to keep running and also keep its employees and customers safe? Have any of these changes created any long-term efficiencies or improvements that you expect to maintain or continue?

We have implemented a number of prudent safety protocols to keep our team safe and healthy. Our North American headquarters remains closed to reduce unnecessary personal contact, and travel has been limited to business-critical purposes – while fully respecting our customer’s pandemic protocols and limitations.

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Safety procedures also have been put in place throughout our operations, to ensure there is a firm balance between the health of our team and the need to maintain customer delight. Our Asian operations were the first to be impacted by COVID-19, so we were able to quickly learn best practices and carried those findings across our business before the pandemic took root in other countries and continents.

We have realized efficiencies in how we communicate internally and with the customer that will carry-on. It will most likely lead to reduced travel and improved collaboration, even when team members are not in the same office. However, there will always be a need to meet face-to-face – Microsoft Teams cannot replicate customer intimacy, getting to know your teammate better during a team dinner, or the great ideas that come to fruition, off-the-cuff in a physical meeting.  

Lumileds recently introduced a new line of medium- and heavy-duty lighting. Tell us more about it.

Yes, we’re thrilled to introduce an exclusive product catered to these applications and the heavy-duty channel. The key is to meet the rigorous needs of the vehicles they operate in; rough idling engines, uneven surfaces and off-road obstacles. The vibration resistance in these bulbs sets them apart from the competition and this helps individual owners and fleet managers reduce down-time and extend replacement cycles.

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Another key feature, aside from application specific listings, is that we have coverage in both 12 and 24-volts. This is key in not only the medium- and heavy-duty truck markets, but also in the agricultural segment where the conditions are arguably tougher and the terrain much more challenging.  

Are there any other new innovations you would like to share with AMN readers?

We are preparing the launch of more LED-based innovations to complement our already strong suite of LED-centric products. LED is in our name, and we are one of the largest suppliers of LED technology to the OEM automotive, IoT, and general illumination markets. In the coming weeks, we will be introducing a new LED product line for the U.S. market, which will be a game-changer for our customers.

In addition, we are excited to launch a new series of halogen upgrade products. These new and improved products will offer a competitive advantage and truly differentiate our products, by providing maximum performance and stunning appearance.

More to come on both fronts in the very near future!

Philips Lighting has always been an early adopter when it comes to introducing lighting innovations. What is the key to always staying ahead of the curve?

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Primarily, it is our engineering and product management teams stretching the bounds of light. Our engineering development facilities in Europe are world-class, leveraging both aftermarket and OEM expertise. We apply the same stringent standards to the development of our aftermarket products as we do to our OEM segment – similar tools, methodology and technological expertise. This allows us to rapidly take ideas from the street, and quickly perfect them in a lab to be first-to-market.

The key to innovation is not just developing the technology but making sure it meets all local legal and regulatory specifications. The Philips brand is one of the most recognizable in the world, and we strive to make sure that we maintain the image of the brand to deliver unequaled quality to the consumer.

With so many changes going on right now both globally as well as within the industry, where do you see Lumileds putting most of its focus in the next 6 to 12 months?

The industry will continue to ebb and flow, and I expect to see many more changes in the coming 6 to 12 months. Lighting is what we do, and Lumileds will be focused on maintaining a stable base for our employees and customers. As our customers and the market seeks a new ‘normal,’ we will aim to continue delivering customer delight and quality products at a competitive price with unparalleled service excellence.

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