Normally, review challenge products are submitted, reviewed, published and that is that. After reviewing HPM’s DLI9002 LED Downlight and the Legrand E2 Edgelight LED Exit Sign, I was given an invitation to visit HPM Legrand’s head office in Prestons, in Sydney, to tour the facility and meet with their staff in the engineering and technical side in addition to the marketing team.
Given that such a chance is rarely afforded to a random hobbyist who isn’t a large customer of the company, I felt it would be beneficial (at least, to me) to take a look inside and have a chat with some like-minded people. Of course, I knew I would be “marketed to” in some way, but I can easily “filter” that out and focus on the facts.
HPM is an iconic Australian electrical supply brand with a long history – in fact, there’s a good chance that you may have lived in a house with HPM power points, wall plate switches or powerboards. I know I certainly did.
HPM Legrand’s office is at Prestons, just near Liverpool in Sydney’s south. They reside inside Nexus Industry Park, where I was told that they had recently consolidated their operations around three years ago.
On location, I was told that distribution, manufacturing, support, marketing, operations, research and development are all undertaken on site.
First step was to sign in. I suppose I should have returned the slip back to the front desk on the way out. Oh well! The exterior and interior are amazing, and there are a lot of facilities inside to hold meetings and seminars.
The showroom is a bit of a marketing exercise – while I don’t normally feature marketing on the site, my post would be almost completely devoid of pictures without it. It gives you a good overview of the products the company produces.
The showroom was in a corner of their floor area, and was still partially under construction at the time, thus it wasn’t powered on at the time. The Legrand display focused on complete solutions for aged care, assisted living and hospital solutions. Just in front, on the podium, is a charging station which features their own in-wallplate USB charging solution.
A close-up of their electrical solutions wall shows just how many different areas Legrand products are involved in.
Many companies are jumping on the “aged care” market with solutions for telehealth and assisted living, as the global population ages, and it seems Legrand is no different. I suppose it’s a good thing that technology is being used to take care of the most vulnerable people, and keep them safe.
There is also a focus on fixtures specially tailored for hospital use with anti-microbial features and standardized colour coding.
The other display was a combined “group” display which tied in with their Rethink Electrical marketing campaign.
The display showed various different fixtures with decor-matching trim and the latest convenience features for indoor and outdoor settings.
The display was more focused towards residential solutions, including LED lighting, power protection, intercom and energy saving solutions.
It was also interesting to see the photoelectric sensor, which is used to turn lighting on at dusk and off at dawn – our complex common area lighting is controlled with one of those, as well as the movement sensor using a pyroelectric IR sensor (which you can just see in the lens in the full size image).
Rethinking Australian Made
Because it was a fully operational workplace with manufacturing operations and sensitive confidential trade secrets, I was not at liberty to take photos throughout the rest of the facility. In fact, I can really only mention just a fraction of the many things I observed while I was there.
However, I would have to say that it was a pleasant surprise to me to have visited. If there’s one thing people have been saying about the electrical and electronics industry in Australia, it’s that it doesn’t exist anymore. My visit today proved that wrong – it seems HPM Legrand is an exception.
Even something so humble as a switch mechanism was produced from start to finish within the facility. I saw machines handling raw copper/brass rod and forming terminals, injection moulding machines taking pellets and forming wall-plates, covers, and parts for the switch, in-house assembly, testing, laser-marking and packaging.
Admittedly, Australian labour is expensive, and it is hard to compete, but commercial lighting and emergency lighting products are categories where HPM Legrand have in-house manufacturing not far from where I live. I saw machines cutting up steel sheets to size, powder-coating, and PCB population and testing on-site.
From this, I could feel the sense of pride they must have in being able to do this, and the care they take to ensure the quality of their product. This was a lot more than I had expected to find. But that wasn’t the only surprise – I also saw where support calls were being taken from consumers directly within the facility rather than at a call centre.
Testing and Design Expertise that Builds Confidence
I also was given the chance to meet with their engineers and technicians and see their facilities. To have manufacturing in a location is already outside the expectations, but to also have the research and development, and testing expertise on site as well was particularly inspiring.
Particular attention was paid to their LED lighting portfolio, which now covers a range of downlights, oyster lights, up/down lights and retrofit globes. Apparently, their products are all designed in-house to meet their standards and also tested rigorously to ensure the final products exceed expectations.
I was informed about and shown through their well-equipped NATA accredited laboratories where various forms of testing are undertaken, and was shown some of their test equipment and techniques. I was also shown their testing systems for emergency lighting to ensure compliance with standards. I was also told that they had a photometry lab in Melbourne, where the performance of products are verified.
While I am not able to divulge information about the labs themselves, I had a great time talking with the staff there who were experts in their field and were very open to sharing their thoughts and knowledge with me. It is by seeing this sort of facility first-hand that really builds confidence in their products and shows me that they are going to defend their brand and reputation even amongst a sea of importers and re-badgers.
In all, I spent almost two hours at their head office and talked with a number of their staff who made me feel welcome and showed me through every aspect of their operations. It was a very eye-opening experience, and I thank them for their hospitality and for their time. Even if I can’t say much about what I saw, I was definitely impressed that manufacturing was still occurring close to home for a part as humble as a switch mechanism, and that they were well equipped to design and evaluate their products on-site whereas some other “import” companies are unlikely to have the same level of facilities and knowledge.
In case you’re interested in their products, you’ll have to find a distributor as they do not deal with end consumers. Unfortunately, many of their distributors don’t carry the full catalogue.