DAL & Southco: Enhancing the Safety and Performance of Transport Lighting

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DAL & Southco: Enhancing the Safety and Performance of Transport Lighting

DAL & Southco: Enhancing the Safety and Performance of Transport Lighting


Designed Architectural Lighting (DAL) is one of Britain's leading specialists in the design and manufacture of luminaires. Founded in 1983, they specialize in integrating the requirements of architects, designers and engineers with the best in lamp technology and materials for a wide portfolio of prestigious clients. They were contracted to design and manufacture specialist luminaires for the cross-passage tunnel lighting in several of the newly built stations on the Crossrail Elizabeth Line. Part of London’s developing underground transport network, the new line offers safer, easier and faster journeys. A major challenge they faced was ensuring the safety of the significantly heavy main cover on each lighting fixture. With the covers weighing up to 30kg, there was potential for them to fall open during maintenance and cause harm to staff and passengers, and damage to the surrounding area. While DAL has extensive experience in solving similar challenges for clients, they were tasked with demonstrating to Crossrail and Transport for London that their solution was robust, viable and cost-effective enough to meet the project specifications.

The Challenge 

DAL was seeking a supplier that could meet the design requirements of the luminaire system assembly. The project presented a number of challenges, even for a specialist with DAL’s level of expertise. One of the most challenging design hurdles that DAL faced was the safety and positioning of the structural frame containing the glass diffuser, which also acts as the protective cover to the luminaire. At 30kg/m, its weight is significant, making the highest level of safety a key design consideration. During maintenance of the crosspassage service booms, which also incorporate the cable management system, speakers and CCTV cameras, theluminaires had to be easily accessible from below, making it necessary to integrate a special hinged mechanism. DAL needed to design a fixture with uncomplicated opening and closing operation, which would ensure that the heavy glass did not swing down uncontrollably throughout maintenance or at any other time. This in turn, would reduce the potential for operator injury or damage to the surrounding environment. The luminaire system also needed to be competitively priced and low maintenance to keep both project and running costs within budget.

Because each station is unique, with its own cross-passage tunnel twists, turns and lengths, various sizes and shapes of luminaire had to be designed and manufactured, with over 1,000 metres required in total. The design team needed to identify components which would offer durability in long-term exposure to the harsh environment associated with transportation systems such as condensation and fine particles. They were also looking for mechanisms that featured high-specification seals to protect against the ingress of dirt and moisture.

The design had to be versatile enough to work with new control technologies and incorporate state-of-the-art LED light sources. Using LEDs rather than traditional lights in the luminaires would reduce the cost and frequency of maintenance. However, as this meant that the frames and glass diffusers would not be opened as frequently as for traditional lighting by service and maintenance personnel, it was also recognized as having the potential to present some new challenges. For instance, when the gas struts that are commonly used for large lighting fixture covers are not cycled frequently, there is potential of seals drying out. When the luminaires are eventually opened, the gas struts may leak and ultimately fail.

The Solution

DAL identified that engineered access hardware supplier Southco would be able to provide the best solution. Southco is highly experienced at providing and designing hardware for lighting fixtures in all environments. For DAL, they also offered the added advantage of being a single provider with the capacity and expertise to provide multiple products which would function effectively together to create one cohesive solution. DAL identified Southco as the only supplier able to resolve all of the project’s design and safety challenges and create a robust and forward-thinking solution.

After providing sample components for evaluation, Southco produced a small batch run of selected products, which were built into the DAL luminaires manufactured for a fullscale, cross-passage tunnel mock-up. The design features and attention to detail shown at this stage met the rigorous specification specified by the Crossrail architects and engineers. With Southco’s technical support and specialized knowledge, the final components were selected according to DAL’s design requirements.

The DAL design team worked closely with Southco engineers to identify a practical solution that addressed the complex problem of making the light fixtures safe, easy to access and durable. Every DAL Crossrail luminaire now incorporates a combination of Southco components: the TL Draw Latch and Keeper, TL Slide Latch, E6 Position Control Hinge and DZUS ® Quarter-Turn Quick Access Fastener. 

1. TL Draw and Slide Latches – preventing accidental opening under vibration

Southco’s TL Over-Center Draw Latch and Keeper and TL Slide Latch play a central role in the safety of the project. The design team selected them for their ability to offer a high level of vibration resistance and their capacity to tolerate misalignment and hold panels securely and consistently in place, providing additional security. The TL Latch series features simple hand operation that allows easy removal for access or maintenance, giving added flexibility for this complex setting. The lever-actuated, over-center action pulls panels together and holds them secure, making the lid more difficult to open accidentally and providing a higher level of safety. Additionally, the wire link design provides the maximum level of strength and shock resistance, while the concealed mounting styles provide a clean surface appearance.

2. E6 Position Control Hinge – precise control and movement of heavy parts

DAL selected Southco’s external E6-10-600 series hinge over the gas struts commonly used for large lighting fixture covers, which not only holds the cover open, but offers added position control when accessing the lighting assembly. The covers are accessed only infrequently by service and maintenance personnel, due to the use of longer-lasting LED lights instead of older lighting technology. Gas struts that are not cycled frequently create the potential issue of seals drying out, so that when they are eventually opened, they may leak and ultimately fail. The mechanical friction solution provided by the E6 hinge eliminates this risk. Incorporating the function into the hinge also saves on initial installation cost and space. DAL identified Southco’s E6 Position Control Hinge to resolve the challenges with the cover, which enables a heavy load to be lifted with ease and with no drift or swing. Integrated Positioning Technology within the hinge gives users the flexibility to define and adjust the operating effort required to move or position panels and accommodates variables in enclosure construction – without added hardware or installation costs. This allowed DAL to increase the safety and ease of use of the entire system, without exceeding the project budget.

3. DZUS ® Quick Access Quarter-turn Fastener – saving time with rapid fastening

DAL’s design also incorporated Southco’s DZUS ® Quick Access Quarter-Turn Fastener as a tool-operated secondary safety feature for latching the lighting cover. The DZUS ® series enables rapid fastening, providing safe and quick access that saves time on installation and maintenance. Its ability to provide repeatable functionality with a set amount of fastening force means that it cannot be overtightened and has consistent engagement. The head style of the QuarterTurn Fastener has been specially modified for the Crossrail project to allow installation engineers and maintenance personnel to clearly see when it is securely locked, a vital aid when working at height on essential maintenance and repair procedures. The DAL team also valued the fact that the DZUS ® Quarter-Turn Fastener’s proven cam and receptacle design allows it to remain securely fastened under heavy vibration load.

The Implementation 

The new Crossrail Elizabeth Line comprises underground and over ground stations with eight new stations in total, with DAL supplying nearly 1,000 specialist light fixtures to the project – all featuring Southco latches. By working with Southco, DAL is providing a value-added product to Transport for London. The luminaires and their enclosures are not only highly efficient but also safer, more intelligent and more durable than alternative products, offering Crossrail and Transport for London the highest standard of quality, and greater peace of mind around liability and safety.

As a pioneering lighting design and manufacturing company, DAL was seeking products and components that could help them achieve their vision for their clients’ project. By identifying intuitive and durable hardware that addressed all the potential issues, they could be certain that they were developing a superior, value-added product for Crossrail and Transport for London. Using high quality access solutions also enabled DAL to offer their client a more competitive product. DAL identified that no other supplier apart from Southco had the right mix of hardware to achieve the functionality that was required. Southco provided multiple products from one source, which not only solved DAL’s design and safety challenges but also offered their customers a more robust and forward-thinking solution.

The Results 

John Ilett, Chief Design Engineer at DAL, said: “With safety and access together with exceptional lighting performance being essential considerations within this complex setting, we knew that the design for our client, Transport for London, would require careful planning and problem-solving. We recognized that we had to identify a solution which, to meet all our client’s requirements, would most likely be a multiple-part system,” said John “We needed to identify intelligent hardware which would not only fit the setting but maintain the long-term safety and performance of the entire lighting system. Our partnership with Southco enabled us to address a significant and complex challenge for Transport for London, ensuring that the DAL luminaires on the London Crossrail line are effective and safe to maintain and operate. We were impressed at Southco’s ability to identify the ideal components and to make the appropriate modifications to meet our needs and those of our clients.”

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