out mechanisms that prevent workers from
accidentally turning machinery on or off.
“When you see a yellow-painted hand rail
under HID lighting, it’s not too prominent, but
by switching to a higher-CRI lighting such as
LED, it really helps those colors stand out,” said
Antonikas. He claimed the light that NLMK
has relied on traditionally had CRIs ranging
from around 30 to around 50, whereas the Dialight LED luminaires provide a CRI in the 80s,
and will soon reach the 90s — far superior for
ascertaining true colors and easily spotting the
reds and yellows of the safety world.
None of this was possible until Dialight
improved its lighting, designing its own ballasts to meet demanding industrial needs.
Dialight uses high-end LED chips from
Seoul Semiconductor and Nichia and its own
in-house designed ballasts. As a result, its
light sources, such as the Vigilant brand LED
tubes in the high-bay locations, can withstand temperatures ranging from - 40°F to
+149°F, according to Antonikas. That means
they can survive not only the taxing heat of
the mill but also the frozen conditions that
frequently occur in some areas, like in the
open-door stations that receive rail shipments from New Jersey of steel slabs that
originate in NLMK’s home country of Russia.
NLMK can back up Dialight’s assertions.
“We’ve had [some of] the Dialight LEDs up for
about seven or eight years now, and we hav-
en’t had to do anything,” said Allenbaugh. “So
that really saves us on manpower.”
Same for the 2012 installment of LED street
lights. “Those street lights we put up, they’re
still working today in our front gate,” said
Stidham. “We haven’t replaced them yet.”
About the only place you won’t find Dial-
ight LEDs at the facility is in the offices. “Our
fixture would be considered overkill in an
office,” said Dialight’s Antonikas. “They’re
meant to be in dirty, dusty, hot, nasty envi-
ronments. There are lesser technology grades
for the office setting. I always joke, anytime
I see a customer, especially if they’re a new
customer, I say, ‘Give me your hottest, harsh-
est, nastiest area. Show me somewhere where
people don’t want to go into and where you’ve
had multiple failures before. That’s where I
want to start our relationship.’”
NLMK’s Stidham would not dispute that as
a description of his company’s work habitat. “A
steel mill is one of the harshest environments,
other than mining,” he said. “It’s a very harsh
environment. You’re looking at high tempera-
tures, very cold and very dirty as far as the dust
and the water and the steam.” Then there are
the occasional freezing conditions in winter.
The LEDs have been so much up to the
task that NLMK is designing them into a new
“walking beam” facility it’s building, where
modern technology walks a slab through the
hot mill, preventing marks and imperfections that can disappoint customers such as
manufacturers of cars, appliances, and heavy
equipment that NLMK supplies from the Farrell mill, considered a “mini mill.”
NLMK is also starting to install Dialight
LEDs at its galvanizing plant about 5 miles
away from the mill, and is installing them in a
hot rolling mill near Gary, IN, where the steelmaker operates an electric arc furnace.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Stidham.
“It took us a couple of years going through trial
and error, but the main thing for me has been
the maintenance and energy savings.”
All indications are that those benefits will
continue to roll on at NLMK. FIG. 3. High-bay LEDs light up the NLMK machine shop.
FIG. 4. Dialight LED street lighting went in at the plant as early as 2012. NLMK had
planned to upgrade from sodium vapor to metal halide, but changed to LED when the