Technology Advances Simplify LED Supply Chain

LED lighting systems are beholden to high-quality standards, which present a number of challenges to designers. While not always a requirement for every solid state lighting (SSL) solution, many commercial and residential applications require strict color consistency, especially in multi-fixture applications where it is easy to see even minor variations in fixture-to-fixture color.

In the past, supply chain challenges associated with maintaining color consistency from fixture to fixture were addressed through a complex and costly process of selective bin sorting of LEDs. LED bin sorting is the process of measuring specific outputs of any given LED for color, brightness, and forward voltage and then sorting each into a “bin” of similar components. While this process does offer the distinct advantages of tightly controlling light output and color, as well as for allowing customized differentiation of products, it is not without offsetting supply chain challenges.

The LED binning process can often leave the supply chain at the mercy of unpredictable yields, as well as the additional challenges of special inventory requirements — all of which can add up to increased component cost, as well as total cost of ownership.

As SSL technology has continued to evolve, manufacturers have moved toward creating modules, or multi-chip components, where the color mixing has already been completed. These module and multi-chip solutions offer compelling advantages to the supply chain, including:

  • Color and output “guaranteed” without the need for specialized binning
  • Fewer components to manage on bill of materials
  • Lower total cost of ownership
  • Time-to-market advantages from a design and manufacturing perspective

The challenges of selecting the right SSL platform can be complex, and seldom will a one-size-fits-all approach work across multiple applications. It can be helpful to engage a partner ({complink 453|Arrow Electronics Inc.}, for instance, has highly trained and dedicated SSL experts) to assist in the creation of designs that minimize specialized binning requirements and reduce component count, cost, and lead-time.

It is only after careful consideration of these benefits and associated tradeoffs that the right selection of a light source will deliver both winning performance and reduction of overall supply chain complexity.

6 comments on “Technology Advances Simplify LED Supply Chain

  1. elctrnx_lyf
    August 18, 2011

    I just learned that way how the LED's will be filtered at the manufacturing location. But I'm not able to understand how does the multichip technology or any other alternative technology could improve the binning process to reduce the cost. I would also request you to explain more details regarding how Arrow is helping the LED manufacturers to improve the yield.

  2. hwong
    August 19, 2011

    I think the article is just referring to some “modules” that Arrow provides which comes with a predetermined color mixing so that the manufacturing customer doesn't have to do the actual mixing.

  3. Houngbo_Hospice
    August 20, 2011

    “I think the article is just referring to some “modules” that Arrow provides which comes with a predetermined color mixing so that the manufacturing customer doesn't have to do the actual mixing.”

    One of the advantages is that specialized manufacturers such as Arrow would help in the creation of designs at relatively low cost and in time. All this will ease the supply chain challenges that LED lighting suppliers have to face.

  4. Daniel
    August 22, 2011

    Gary, I think still we had not found necessary application for Led’s in out day to day life. As of now applications are limited to LED TV and lightening system. Since LED’s are more powerful and energy consumptions are very low, we have to promote more equipment with LED.

  5. Eldredge
    August 22, 2011

    As the cost of LED components comes down, it should be adopted much more readily as a residential lighting alternative. It seems like a great solution to me.

  6. zullo@arrow
    August 30, 2011

    The multi-die in a single package gives you both the benefit of color mixing from the factory, as well as reducing the number of components of multi-device binning solutions.  This can reduce total BOM cost, as well as other supply chain concerns such as inventory carrying costs for multiple parts versus just one.

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