Thursday, February 16, 2012

Two companies at Airport Industrial Park collaborate on runway closure project

Pedro Alvarez, 44, assembles a custom LED light fixture at LED International Lighting in Brooksville on Tuesday afternoon.

BROOKSVILLE — While necessity may be the mother of invention, it doesn't hurt when the solution to a problem lies within walking distance.

That's how Tim Neubert, president of Neubert Aero Corp., saw things last October when he went looking for a manufacturer of LED lights that could be used in a new product his company was developing.

Although he had searched nationally, Neubert was unaware of LED International Lighting Inc., a high-tech commercial lighting manufacturer that had set up shop near his company's operations at the Hernando County Airport Industrial Park.

In a meeting with LED International owner David Anglewicz, the two men decided to partner in developing and producing the next generation of portable lighted runway closure systems that are deployed by airports whenever runways are undergoing maintenance or repair.

"It's been a strong collaborative effort for both of our companies," Neubert said. "Staying local has made it easier in that we can introduce new technology and develop our products more quickly than before."

Neubert said that the partnership between the two companies came through his own company's desire to implement new technology into the runway closure systems it has been producing for several years. So far, eight of the systems have been assembled and shipped since January. More are on order.

Resembling giant lighted X's, the portable runway closure systems are used to visually signal aircraft from afar when a runway is closed. Most current systems in place use a system lighted with halogen bulbs. But those tend to be cumbersome because they require frequent maintenance and are powered by diesel generators that must be refueled often.

Emerging LED technology, on the other hand, is energy efficient and reliable. In addition to being weatherproof, LED lights use about one-third of the wattage of standard lighting, have a service life of 50,000 hours and are powered by car batteries that easily can be charged by a small generator.

"When you consider that runways can be closed for a couple of years for maintenance or repairs, that's huge," Neubert said.

Anglewicz, the LED International president, said that although the individual LED components are manufactured overseas, the lighting units themselves, which include additional components provided by local companies ICTC and Sparton Electronics, are built entirely in the Hernando facility.

"It was interesting to see local companies working together," Anglewicz said. "I see it as a growing trend."

County director of business development Mike McHugh agrees. As the industrial park continues to attract more aviation and electronics-related business, he sees the probability of more collaborative efforts between companies.

"I think if you were to ask company owners, I think they would say it makes sense to stay local," McHugh said. "It's easier to monitor quality control, and it's certainly cheaper because you can eliminate some shipping costs. I think it would be win-win for everyone."

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