The light of innovation

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FlatLine, an LED spotlight for extraction hoods developed by VS Italia to satisfy the need of household appliance manufacturers for excellent LED lighting at low cost.

A member of the multinational Panasonic Group since 2002, Vossloh-Schwabe is a leading provider of innovative LED solutions, suitably designed and manufactured to ensure high performance in all lighting and household appliance applications. Read on to find out how the company operates and what it has to offer.

FlatLine, an LED spotlight for extraction hoods developed by VS Italia to satisfy the need of household appliance manufacturers for excellent LED lighting at low cost.
FlatLine, an LED spotlight for extraction hoods developed by VS Italia to satisfy the need of household appliance manufacturers for excellent LED lighting at low cost.

The origins of the Vossloh-Schwabe Group, today known around the world simply as VS, date back to 1919. Established in Germany for the production of lampholders for incandescent lamps, the company rapidly extended its range of lighting products and went on to widen its global presence with about 20 subsidiaries and a distributed sales force on all five continents. In 2002 VS became a member of the multinational Panasonic Group. With more than 1,000 employees and an annual turnover of around EUR220 million, the company is responsible for developing the lighting technology business area, a sector in which VS counts as a technological leader thanks to a top-quality and high-performance product range.

Innovations and an ability to keep pace with market changes have always numbered among Vossloh-Schwabe’s main strengths. Against this background, Carlo Comandini – Managing Director of VS Italia – stated, “Over the last few years, our Group has not only successfully facilitated a process of transition from analogue to digital technology, but has also provided customers with adequate support in a phase of fast market change following the widespread introduction of LED for general lighting purposes. The Group is characterised both by a broad competence base as well as access to innovations and technologies developed by the parent company, Panasonic. As a result, we can offer one-stop solutions consisting of an extensive range of mutually compatible components in addition to integrated solutions that deliver high performance in all lighting and household appliance applications.”

 Apart from residential, street, commercial and industrial lighting, the application sectors served by Vossloh-Schwabe also include household appliances. In addition, Vossloh-Schwabe’s Italian production site in Sarsina Forlì-Cesena, which was established in 1961, continues to manufacture standard products such as lampholders, terminal blocks and accessories alongside innovative LED solutions and related products such as lenses, reflectors, heat sinks made of thermally conductive plastics. Moreover, the subsidiary bears sole responsibility for producing, marketing and managing the household appliance segment with the aim of delivering innovative solutions in collaboration with its customers. All VS manufacturing plants in Germany, Italy and Serbia as well as all sales offices are DQS-certified in accordance with DIN EN ISO 9001 and 14001; current certifications are valid until 2019.

In collaboration with its customers, VS’ in-house resources are used to design and manufacture all types of LED spotlight.
In collaboration with its customers, VS’ in-house resources are used to design and manufacture all types of LED spotlight.

Wide Range of Household Appliances

Within the household appliance segment, VS Italia manufactures a broad range of products and accessories for conventional ovens, microwave ovens, extraction hoods, refrigerators and dishwashers, with bestsellers mainly being lampholders and, given cutting-edge applications, LED solutions. In this regard, Stefano Pavolucci – Sales Manager for the household appliance segment at VS Italia – explained, “In collaboration with our customers, we analyse their requirements to devise customised LED solutions. A customer may simply require a G9 lampholder for ovens, but equally a hood manufacturer may need a built-in LED solution. In such cases, we can provide not only the LED board, but the entire system consisting of LED spotlight, driver and wiring.”

 In VS Italia’s primary German market, the company maintains excellent relations with Neff GmbH, one of the world’s most renowned household appliance manufacturers and a member of the BSH Home Appliances Group, a global leader and the biggest household appliance manufacturer in Europe. Pavolucci added, “We were already a supplier of standard components for hood lighting when we got involved in the first implementation project of an LED spotlight for Neff hoods. After the successful release of this first product in 2010, we went on to implement two further LED spotlights and, more recently, an RGB module for hood backlighting. In collaboration with Neff, we sought to create the perfect kitchen environment with radiated light capable of changing colour directly on the wall behind the rear side of the hood. Using customer specifications as our starting point in each case, we have designed and produced LED boards, optics, heat dissipation methods and the entire assembly system so as to provide our customers with turnkey products.”

The control of the production line
fig2fig3VS controls the entire production line. These two design images show the optical simulation phase for an LED light source for an extraction hood as well as the mould design phase. 

Innovation, Research & Development, After Sales

As illustrated above, the range of VS products for the field of household appliances is both wide and tailored to suit customer requirements. Further company strengths are outlined below, the first of which is innovative competence. VS Italia’s R&D team is committed to conducting ongoing research into new materials and innovative technologies with the aim of providing advanced solutions and consistently optimum light conditions. In line with the product concept, the team designs solutions to satisfy customer requirements, turning the given demand into specifications that guide each single step towards implementing the customised solution. Equally noteworthy is VS Italia’s capability of creating complete products in-house, with its production site delivering turnkey solutions. No matter whether such products are single LEDs or LED modules based on either SMD or COB technology, VS Italia not only supplies the most suitable solutions for existing lighting appliances, but also – in synergy with its customers – explores new ways of researching innovative ideas in designing lighting appliances. Lampholders and other accessories such as optics, reflectors and heat sinks are manufactured in cutting-edge plants using the most suitable materials in each case. Furthermore, VS Italia’s broad range of LED drivers satisfies all market demands, combining a long service life with features like a high degree of efficiency, overvoltage and overheating protection as well as compact sizes – all of which make them ideal as components for efficient LED systems.

The Italian VS branch bears sole responsibility for the production, marketing and management of the household appliance sector business, delivering innovative solutions in collaboration with its customers.
The Italian VS branch bears sole responsibility for the production, marketing and management of the household appliance sector business, delivering innovative solutions in collaboration with its customers.

All necessary photometric tests required to measure optical, chromatic and radiometric values as well as to run thermal simulations are carried out using state-of-the-art equipment. From the earliest stages of developing an LED product, such tests help to ensure that the finished article is fully fit for the purpose envisaged by the respective customer. Based on stringent testing and simulations prior to, during and after production, constant monitoring of the project development phase enables VS Italia to satisfy the highest quality standards. To round off this brief overview of VS Italia’s strengths, the company also provides its customers with professional support and experience – from producing the first prototypes right up to implementing the finished product. Thanks to the company’s combined manufacturing skill and flexibility, it is easily possible to scale production up from just a few units to mass production numbers. And finally, a widespread global presence puts VS in close proximity to its customers and the market, thus permitting excellent provisioning and after-sale services. Stefano Pavolucci summed up, “Without all the above-mentioned characteristics we would not be flexible enough to fully meet customer demands. Nowadays, achieving customer satisfaction also means being able to tailor products and services to suit specific requirements and being prepared to turn possibly necessary design modifications around in a short timeframe. VS owns all in-house equipment and necessary know-how to back customers in all product development phases.”

The management
Carlo Comandini, VS Italia Managing Director
Carlo Comandini, VS Italia Managing Director
Stefano Pavolucci, VS Italia Sales Manager for Household Appliances
Stefano Pavolucci, VS Italia Sales Manager for Household Appliances
Carlo Tentelli, VS Italia R&D Manager
Carlo Tentelli, VS Italia R&D Manager

Two Significant Examples

Among the many lighting products provided by VS, two are particularly significant in characterising the way the company works within the Panasonic Group: LED spotlights for ovens and extraction hoods. The first of these, only recently patented, was developed to satisfy the needs of leading manufacturers of ovens destined for use both as household appliances and in professional ovens. The initial idea revolved around developing a standard LED spotlight solution that could be used to replace lampholders for incandescent and halogen light sources, but without requiring any design modifications in the appliance itself. To prevent irreparable damage, LED light sources should always be kept away from high temperature zones, with regard to which the LED spotlight for ovens was specially developed by VS Italia to prevent premature LED deterioration. Crucially in this respect, temperatures inside ovens, particularly those found in professional ovens where operating conditions are more extreme, can even exceed 400 °C. Stefano Pavolucci explained, “Besides this solution, we are working on custom projects that intend to exploit the special characteristics of LEDs, with the ultimate aim of providing end users with innovative products, such as separate lighting for each single burner on the hob. In addition to ensuring excellent lighting conditions in the cooking chamber, the VS Italia solution contributes to reducing the frequency with which bulbs need to be replaced thanks to an increase from a nominal service life of 1,000 operating hours for incandescent lamps or 2,000 for halogen lamps to at least 10,000 operating hours in the case of our LED solution.” This VS solution is characterised by excellent lighting quality, the ability to direct the light beam to suit customer requirements and a reduction in maintenance costs due to the long service life. The latter is particularly relevant in the professional appliance sector since the replacement of conventional lamps within a professional oven is often difficult and requires the intervention of a service technician. In basic terms, the VS Italia LED oven spotlight consists of a PCB positioned sufficiently far away from the heat source and a reflector that guides the emitted light to the borosilicate glass diffuser. Carlo Tentelli, R&D Manager at VS Italia, added, “The only part in contact with the hot zone is the spherical cap or diffuser, while the LED itself, if correctly positioned, is in a possibly ventilated zone whose maximum temperature does not exceed 80 °C. The resulting product is capable of reaching 10,000 hours of operation.”

This LED spotlight was designed to allow oven manufacturers to replace lampholders for incandescent and halogen lamps without having to undertake relevant design modifications to existing household appliances.
This LED spotlight was designed to allow oven manufacturers to replace lampholders for incandescent and halogen lamps without having to undertake relevant design modifications to existing household appliances.

 The second of the mentioned products is the extraction hood spotlight, called FlatLine. The latest in a line of LED spotlights made for use in extraction hoods, the product delivers excellent value for money and was developed with a mind to satisfying customer demands for a high-quality, yet low-cost LED lighting option. “Constituting an excellent compromise between quality and price, FlatLine suits the requirements of hood manufacturers which, as provided for by the European Ecodesign Directive, will be constrained to replace conventional light sources when these will be taken out of the market. In addition, the LED solution provides a high degree of technical flexibility and is available in three different versions: constant current, constant voltage and direct voltage 220-240 V CA. Cutting-edge technologies used in producing this excellent built-in product for extraction hoods include co-moulding the frame alongside the plastic body, serving to minimise assembly costs and yet still deliver a cost-effective product at a high technical standard.” expanded Carlo Tentelli.