Ask an Expert

Tom Blewitt

Director of Principal Engineers, Appliance and Lighting, and Corporate Fellow

What are the biggest safety challenges involved with the advancement of more sustainable devices, appliances and lighting?

The challenges of developing more sustainable products and the safety challenges these products present have much in common. They both require creativity and innovation, as new science often requires new solutions from diverse fields of expertise.

 

For example, designers have to consider eliminating what might be “waste” to some eyes but a necessary “margin of safety” to others. Exploring the historic assumptions and practicalities that drove current design and manufacturing practice is very important today. We do so with the intent to identify the underlying science-based safety principles to be observed while enabling designers to safely take advantage of new technologies, new materials and new manufacturing capabilities. Leaving the comfort zone of the “tried and true” is always challenging.

 

Similarly, developing, testing and then adopting more sustainable and safe solutions require a much broader perspective than in the past. For instance, what happens before and after a product makes it to the retail shelf has an ever-increasing influence on the design of that product. It therefore is important to understand and hear from stakeholders representing the entire product life cycle in order to achieve systemic solutions and not simply push a problem down the line. Expertise is always in demand, so securing and keeping engaged a network of such diverse expertise to develop the most informed and effective safety requirements are always challenges.

The good news is that we are successfully adapting to meet the challenges so that society can safely reap the benefits of more sustainable products.

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