World first for Vega
A port entry
light on top of a navigation beacon on the Benvenue Cliffs in Timaru is believed to be the first of its kind to be installed anywhere in the world.
The existing light had been there for 20 years and time had taken its toll. The replacement $50,000 beacon can be seen for 40kms – 21 Nm – and is designed to be low maintenance by Porirua-based Vega.
For narrow channels the risk of big ships running aground into submerged rocks or shifting sandbars is paramount. The role of the sector light, is to help the captain navigate safely into port with the use of precision colour light signals – green white and red. The pilots aim to stay within the white sector (white is safe). If they see a red light as they come into port, they know they need to move over toward the white. If they see green this is also an indication that they need to move toward the white to stay in the safe zone.
The world-first here is the technology move from incandescent light bulbs to LED. The last major technology shift in this industry was in the 1950’s when incandescent electric lighting was brought in to replace the naked flame – produced by burning whale oil or kerosene. LED technology has now become so powerful they are replacing the last of Vega’s incandescent products. There are also many benefits to the purchaser – LED has less maintenance, better power efficiency, and can be controlled digitally which allows the port authority to monitor the status of the light remotely (often these lights are in remote locations that would require expensive helicopter flights to access them for checking and maintenance).
These lights are custom-made at Vega because no harbour in the world is the same. The light is made of bronze, copper and stainless steel to withstand the elements for 20 years or more, and the optics consist of coloured filter glass to project the sectors. The filters are optically ground and highly polished on their edges to fit together with precision to meet the specifications of the customer. This specialist knowledge is what has set Vega apart from the competitors over the last 40 years, the company believes.