Changing the Game: ECOBLAST opens up the rule book for sports lighting
ECOBLAST, Schréder’s newest product for sports and stadium lighting was launched this week. It reflects a triumph of teamwork and winning spirit: customers, specialised installers, engineers, designers and development teams working together while separated by the pandemic to develop a game-changing way to light stadiums, halls and training grounds for every size and budget.
Cédric Collard, Schréder’s Business Segment Manager for industry & large area lighting, explains how the development of the ECOBLAST brings top-flight lighting to the grassroots game.
How did it all begin?
We’ve been active in sports lighting for many years, before LEDs hit the field. When LED technology came on board, we developed products such as the OMNISTAR, but it took a lot of fittings to replace a traditional 2000W high-intensity discharge (HID) lamp and a lot of stadiums have issues with pole mechanical resistance etc. that made retro-fitting LEDs very difficult.
One of the things I like about Schréder is that we’re a very international company, so we got together with colleagues around the globe to think about how to tackle these issues and offer an affordable solution that can be adapted to local needs and give smaller clubs in particular access to our lighting expertise.
How did you decide to do that?
The first thing we realised is there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. In the US, school and college sports are a huge deal. Australians are really into recreational sport, partly because of their amazing climate. Europe has a solid backbone of municipal sports clubs and facilities which are shared with the town hall, and so are just as likely to host a dance or a festival.
All these countries have different regulations for lighting levels for sports and different power supply systems. So, we came up with the idea of a modular solution, where HID lighting levels between 1500W and 2000W can be replicated with LEDs in a way that adapts seamlessly to the customer’s needs.
What makes the ECOBLAST different?
It’s completely modular - like LEGO - you just build the system you need. Each sport is different; in football, you tend to have four poles around the pitch, while in field hockey, there are six. We’ve learnt from issues with previous iterations of LED lighting. For example, wind strain can put a lot of weight on the poles lights are mounted on, and LEDs tend to be heavier than legacy systems.
So, we designed the ECOBLAST to minimise wind resistance, with aerodynamic gaps between the light blocks. We also reduced the weight by creating a control unit that can operate remotely from up to 200 metres away. That means less time up poles, hiring machines for maintenance, and protecting playing pitches for access, especially because LEDs are extremely reliable. Moreover, we pushed the boundaries of flexibility to enable each row of modules to be inclined at a different angle.
So why haven’t more sports clubs already shifted to LED?
There’s several reasons. The actual use is quite light compared to road or industrial lighting: a lot of matches are played in daylight, so there’s no need for lighting, while junior training might not need the whole pitch illuminated and so on. So, the energy efficiency savings, which are completely crystal clear in tunnel lighting, for example, aren’t as clear cut.
Now they are, because the ECOBLAST is very affordable compared to most current solutions, especially in terms of the control gear. So that changes things. There’s also the issue of adjusting the lights: previous LED solutions could be tricky to manoeuvre, but the ECOBLAST can be rotated on several axes.
That’s useful if you need more than just sports lighting, right?
Exactly. With the modular structure and the Schréder ITERRA control system, you can put on lights which work just as well for a party, cookout or village festival. Or if you want to change between sports, or have lower light levels for training sessions compared to matches, it can do that too (using DALI2). Using the DMX-RDM protocol, dynamic lighting scenarios can be easily programmed to create special effects and entertainment value for a first-class experience.
Of course, we’ve got plenty of experience of lighting large stadia as well, so that the big game looks great in HD. We have worked and are still working with several top clubs on the refurbishment of their grounds. The ECOBLAST brings the lessons we’ve learnt from lighting these types of facilities to sports clubs of every size, worldwide.
Aiming is everything. Often poles have moved or sunk into the ground from when they were first fitted: that’s a big deal because the pole has moved 2cm over time, that equates to a difference of 50 or 60 meters on the playing field. If you’re looking a neighbourhood facility, that light could be shining into someone’s home! And if you’re an ambitious club, it won’t help your reputation as you rise through the league.
One of Schréder’s strengths is that we don’t just sell you the lights, we create a solution together, so our experts will overcome issues like this during the fitting process.
You overcame issues during development, as well?
We did. We met in person just before the pandemic began, and the entire product was developed with home working, video calls, handling prototypes remotely…. It was a real challenge because so much of this work is about look and feel, casing thickness, reducing weight and creating the right finish. But we got there - and I hope the team spirit shown by Schréder colleagues worldwide for its creation, is reflected in the great games for the clubs who use it!
About the writer
Cédric joined Schréder in 2013 with a solid experience in marketing. With his expertise and industry knowledge, Cédric leads the Industry and Large Area Business segments including Sport Lighting and Breeam certification. He collaborates with our research, product development, sales teams worldwide and sport associations to deliver sustainable and energy efficient lighting solutions, tailored to each individual project using the latest in lighting calculation software, lighting management systems and BIM techniques.
Connect with Cédric on LinkedIn