Shining in Shenzhen
Text and photos by Walter Ang
November 19, 2008
Philippine Daily Inquirer
|Akari CEO Chris Tiu (left).|
Akari first distributed energy-saving lamps and switches, eventually adding rechargeable batteries, flashlights, and cords to its range of products. Carlos' eldest son Christopher is at the helm these days as CEO and he invited Inquirer Lifestyle to visit their manufacturing plant in Shenzhen, China.
"Although we outsource the manufacturing of our products to a large-scale production base, we do all of the designs and technical specifications," says Tiu. "We're committed to quality and we follow rigid international safety standards."
This is the reason Akari chose a manufacturer with close to 65 years of experience in research, production, and distribution of lighting devices, electrical wiring accessories, and intelligent control systems. Stereotypical images of a plain warehouse factory are nowhere in sight at the sprawling complex. A sculptured garden campus provides a striking contrast to several tall edifices that dominate an area covering over 300,000 square meters.
The production base has over 3,000 employees that include 200 engineers, 300 technicians, 100 electrical experts, and 500 management personnel. "Our manufacturer implements the ISO9001:2000 international quality management system and 5S management standards," says Tiu. "Quality control standards are usually set higher what is required. For example, if the minimum standard set by the government is 6,000 hours for the life of a light bulb, we make it 8,000 hours."
Texture and color
"Our aim is to develop a complete range of quality but affordable energy-efficient lighting and electrical products easily available to anyone who wants to save energy, money, and the environment," says Tiu. "Our energy-saving lamps are five times more luminous and 80% more energy-efficient than normal incandescent lamps."
To add a bit of flair or to complete the small design details for home interiors (and even commercial spaces), Akari also has a line of switches and switch plates to choose from. To ensure strength and durability, the production plant pulls out random switches from every batch produced and subjects them to a machine that turns them on and off at least 40,000 times. If the switch doesn't hold up, the entire batch will not be released.
In Akari's Deco series of switches, the Regular range comes in white and is appropriate for minimalist and classic tastes. Home owners or commercial spaces that need a splash of color will appreciate the Soft Touch range with its assortment of interchangeable multicolored frames like fantasy blue, romantic purple, jazz black and pink lady, while the Elegance range comes in champagne, cola silver and coffee black.
For an unexpected touch of whimsy, the Picture range allows users to insert any photo or image they choose, such as a computer print-out of a painting, into the plate. Spaces that are aiming for a sleek or industrial feel can consider the Prestige range which comes in metal finishes like gold, silver and bronze or the Glass range which uses clear tempered glass. "We test drop the glass plates to make sure they don't break," Tiu says. Prototypes are underway for a range of plates that will come in a leather finish.
Automated for savings
Beyond design finishes, Akari also has the E-tech dimming pattern switch which allows up to four different lighting schemes to be preset. "This lighting control device can accommodate up to four circuits using existing electrical wiring," says Tiu. A demonstration was done at the main conference room of the production base. At the switch of a button, lights instantly dimmed prior to a presentation using a projector.
"For home use, an example is use it for the dining room where you have a brighter light design for family dinners but a cozier ambience for romantic dinners. For the living room, you can have one lighting design for entertaining guests and another design for watching movies with the family?all at the push of a button. Best of all, the dimming capabilities allows users to save on electricity costs. Galleries, museums, exhibition halls can also benefit from the device," he says. "If you're a bachelor with four girlfriends who have different tastes in lighting, you should get one of these," he adds with a laugh.
For an even higher level of lighting control, plans are underway to introduce the Smart House lighting automation system. "The system allows homeowners and building or mall operators to conveniently control home lighting, airconditioning, and alarm systems. It can be operated through texting or the internet. The operating time of lights and aircon units can be scheduled to save energy. Studies have shown that the system can add up to 30% savings in electricity costs," he says.
The system also uses motion detectors that can switch lights on when someone enters a room as well as switch lights off in unoccupied rooms. When installed outdoors, motion-activated lighting is also useful for security measures. "It even has a replay function that records one full week of actual household lighting activity and then replays it to create the illusion that the house is occupied. If you plan to have a long vacation, it will be an excellent deterrent to intruders," Tiu says. "In addition, through the Smart-House, socket outlets can be switched off remotely to ensure that certain electrical appliances are not activated by children."
Also published online: