Innovation showcase: Barrier Group

Innovation showcase: Barrier Group

Two Barrier Group firms have come together to develop technology which extends the useful life of LED lighting, particularly used in hazardous locations or situations. The firm’s technical director, Tony Oram, tells us about their inclusion in VentureFest North East’s Innovation Showcase, and their journey so far…

Describe your business in no more than 100 words

Barrier LED Lighting and Barrier EX are part of the Barrier Group based in Wallsend.

Barrier LED provide LED lighting solutions to industrial and commercial customers; we are very much at the technical end of the market providing customers with tailored lighting solutions.

Barrier Ex are a supplier of hazardous area solutions specialising in flameproof enclosures, increased safety enclosures and hazardous area lighting equipment.  We supply worldwide to many sectors including oil and gas, marine, petro chemical, water treatment, manufacturing and mining.

Whilst both businesses are innovators, the real innovation is on a joint project to bring a new LED technology into the hazardous area market, in respect of how LEDs are driven and lensed.


What prompted you to enter the innovation showcase?

We see it as a great opportunity to promote our new businesses and our innovations to other leading businesses in the North East of England.


Describe the innovation that you’ve entered the showcase with. (This can be taken from your showcase application)

Barrier LED provide a range of LED lighting, Barrier EX manufacture hazardous area enclosures.

As part of the Barrier Group the companies have joined forces to develop the world’s first driverless EX rated LED floodlight for use in hazardous area environments.


How would you describe that innovation to your grandparents?

Currently LED lighting needs something called a driver, this converts the electricity into a state that can be used to power the LEDs to provide light. Although LED lighting already has a very long life of over 50,000 hours, the weak part of the system is this conversion process and the equipment needed to carry it out, over 90% of all failures of LED lighting can be attributed to the driver.

In hazardous areas, the maintenance of this equipment can be very costly and time consuming as well as potentially dangerous. Our product uses a brand-new technology to eliminate the need to carry out this conversion process; this new technology will offer the end user increased lighting lifetimes, reduced maintenance times and cut down on costly and potentially dangerous shutdown periods.


What are the best and worst parts of trying to be innovative in your business?

The best part is that we have the backing of the Barrier Group and its owner Robert Bowles, who has the vision to see what we are trying to achieve and the resources to help us reach our goals.

Everything is going really well so far so no negatives, although we are sure there will be some to come…


What are the biggest challenges you face?

We are introducing a brand-new technology into one of the most highly regulated industries on the planet, not only do we need to innovate and push the boundaries of the technology but we also need to change the current thinking within the whole industry.

As there is nothing yet like our product available in the market we are essentially designing a product to meet regulations that currently don’t even exist.


What does being chosen for the innovation showcase mean to you?

Being chosen for the innovation showcase allows us to promote both our current business to other leading companies in the North of England and gives us the opportunity to discuss and validate our plans with likeminded companies, we fully expect that new and exciting alliances and opportunities will be established that will help move our plans forward and allow us to develop and grow.


Where do you see your company in five years’ time?

We want to be the world’s leading provider of LED lighting and hazardous area equipment.


What would you tell businesses who are hoping to be more innovative?

Allow people to put forward their ideas and to talk about them with colleagues, often the best innovations come about when ideas are shared by people who wouldn’t necessarily communicate on a day to day basis.

Always have a clear vision of what you want to achieve never let yourself be distracted or lose sight of what you are trying to create.