LEDs lighting Kenall’s path to growth

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Kenall Manufacturing
10200 55th St., Kenosha
Industry: Lighting
Employees: 400
www.kenall.com


While Kenall Manufacturing is among a number of companies that have made the move from Illinois to the Kenosha area in recent years, a shift in lighting technology is having a much bigger impact on the company than any geographic change.

The change has been a shift to light emitting diodes, or LEDs. Three years ago, LEDs made up less than 10 percent of Kenall’s business. In the past two years, the company hasn’t made a new product that didn’t include LEDs.

“That shift to LED, for a lot of companies in the lighting business, has been really traumatic,” said Patrick Marry, Kenall president and chief operating officer, adding that many either made lights or fixtures, but now everything ships together.

The Indigo-Clean ceiling fixture is installed in a number of areas at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin as part of a partnership to test the technology.

The Indigo-Clean ceiling fixture is installed in a number of areas at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin as part of a partnership to test the technology.

The company started in 1963 making lights for Chicago public housing. They were made with an emphasis on durability that has carried through to Kenall’s work today in lights for hospitals, highway tunnels and prisons.

Kenall completed its 354,000-square-foot Kenosha facility in December 2014, moving there from Gurnee, Ill. Marry said the support from the Kenosha community has been great and the biggest challenge is finding people to fill open positions. The company currently runs slightly less than two full shifts and has about 30 percent of the facility’s space left open strategically. Kenall places an emphasis on custom work, so tasks like painting and circuit board work are done on site to allow for faster turnaround.

The shift to LED has meant the industry is increasingly driven by electronics and controls. Lighting also has a place in the Internet of Things, with sensors ranging from a simple occupancy sensor that knows when someone walks into a room to remote monitoring of an automated parking garage that senses where a person is to light her path.

“During these periods of change is when industries grow,” Marry said.

There are energy efficiency benefits to LEDs, but the real gains come from using a specific wavelength of light to drive biological responses, said Cliff Yahnke, Kenall’s director of clinical affairs.

“That is a unique characteristic of LEDs that I think we’re just getting started with,” he said.

Kenall is currently working to commercialize an overhead light and fixture branded as Indigo-Clean through a licensing agreement with the University of Strathclyde. Researchers at the Scottish university determined a specific blue-indigo wavelength of light – 405 nanometers – can kill bacteria by creating a reaction that’s identical to pouring common household bleach on it.

Yahnke said there has been interest from other areas and he sees the potential for using Indigo-Clean in something like food processing, but the focus is on health care for now. One reason is that if Yahnke and his team demonstrate it works in health care, it should be easier to transfer it elsewhere.

Kenall Manufacturing completed its move from Gurnee, Ill. to Kenosha in December 2014. The 354,000-square-foot facility has room for the company to grow without needing another new facility.

Kenall Manufacturing completed its move from Gurnee, Ill. to Kenosha in December 2014. The 354,000-square-foot facility has room for the company to grow without needing another new facility.

The product is currently in testing through partnerships with Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin and United Hospital System’s Kenosha Medical Center campus. The challenge is finding where it is best applied. Some of the early testing has been done in waiting rooms and Kenall is now evaluating intensive care units, operating rooms and pharmacies. Kenall’s Indigo-Clean fixtures are made to allow all-blue, mixed or all-white modes, and sensors allow for different settings depending on the application.

Other environmental disinfection technologies like ultraviolet lights and chemical foggers are more episodic in nature, Yahnke said, adding that Indigo-Clean is meant to work continuously and establish a lower baseline of bacteria levels between episodic cleanings.

The lights are more expensive than traditional fixtures, but Yahnke said the cost should be balanced against the potential for preventing infections. From a production standpoint, Kenall has to require tight tolerances from suppliers to make sure the exact right wavelength is used. The fixture itself also has to meet the unique demands of use in a hospital setting.

“I think it’s probably one of the most stringent products that anybody in the lighting industry makes,” Yahnke said.


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Kenall Manufacturing
10200 55th St., Kenosha
Industry: Lighting
Employees: 400
www.kenall.com


While Kenall Manufacturing is among a number of companies that have made the move from Illinois to the Kenosha area in recent years, a shift in lighting technology is having a much bigger impact on the company than any geographic change.

The change has been a shift to light emitting diodes, or LEDs. Three years ago, LEDs made up less than 10 percent of Kenall’s business. In the past two years, the company hasn’t made a new product that didn’t include LEDs.

“That shift to LED, for a lot of companies in the lighting business, has been really traumatic,” said Patrick Marry, Kenall president and chief operating officer, adding that many either made lights or fixtures, but now everything ships together.

The Indigo-Clean ceiling fixture is installed in a number of areas at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin as part of a partnership to test the technology.

The Indigo-Clean ceiling fixture is installed in a number of areas at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin as part of a partnership to test the technology.

The company started in 1963 making lights for Chicago public housing. They were made with an emphasis on durability that has carried through to Kenall’s work today in lights for hospitals, highway tunnels and prisons.

Kenall completed its 354,000-square-foot Kenosha facility in December 2014, moving there from Gurnee, Ill. Marry said the support from the Kenosha community has been great and the biggest challenge is finding people to fill open positions. The company currently runs slightly less than two full shifts and has about 30 percent of the facility’s space left open strategically. Kenall places an emphasis on custom work, so tasks like painting and circuit board work are done on site to allow for faster turnaround.

The shift to LED has meant the industry is increasingly driven by electronics and controls. Lighting also has a place in the Internet of Things, with sensors ranging from a simple occupancy sensor that knows when someone walks into a room to remote monitoring of an automated parking garage that senses where a person is to light her path.

“During these periods of change is when industries grow,” Marry said.

There are energy efficiency benefits to LEDs, but the real gains come from using a specific wavelength of light to drive biological responses, said Cliff Yahnke, Kenall’s director of clinical affairs.

“That is a unique characteristic of LEDs that I think we’re just getting started with,” he said.

Kenall is currently working to commercialize an overhead light and fixture branded as Indigo-Clean through a licensing agreement with the University of Strathclyde. Researchers at the Scottish university determined a specific blue-indigo wavelength of light – 405 nanometers – can kill bacteria by creating a reaction that’s identical to pouring common household bleach on it.

Yahnke said there has been interest from other areas and he sees the potential for using Indigo-Clean in something like food processing, but the focus is on health care for now. One reason is that if Yahnke and his team demonstrate it works in health care, it should be easier to transfer it elsewhere.

Kenall Manufacturing completed its move from Gurnee, Ill. to Kenosha in December 2014. The 354,000-square-foot facility has room for the company to grow without needing another new facility.

Kenall Manufacturing completed its move from Gurnee, Ill. to Kenosha in December 2014. The 354,000-square-foot facility has room for the company to grow without needing another new facility.

The product is currently in testing through partnerships with Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin and United Hospital System’s Kenosha Medical Center campus. The challenge is finding where it is best applied. Some of the early testing has been done in waiting rooms and Kenall is now evaluating intensive care units, operating rooms and pharmacies. Kenall’s Indigo-Clean fixtures are made to allow all-blue, mixed or all-white modes, and sensors allow for different settings depending on the application.

Other environmental disinfection technologies like ultraviolet lights and chemical foggers are more episodic in nature, Yahnke said, adding that Indigo-Clean is meant to work continuously and establish a lower baseline of bacteria levels between episodic cleanings.

The lights are more expensive than traditional fixtures, but Yahnke said the cost should be balanced against the potential for preventing infections. From a production standpoint, Kenall has to require tight tolerances from suppliers to make sure the exact right wavelength is used. The fixture itself also has to meet the unique demands of use in a hospital setting.

“I think it’s probably one of the most stringent products that anybody in the lighting industry makes,” Yahnke said.


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