Southern Company Embraces Phoseon’s UV LED-based Curing Solutions for Its Customers

Southern Company is a big gorilla in the world of energy – generating over 42,000 megawatts and serving 4.4 million customers in Mississippi, Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Their power plants dot the landscape of the south using everything from Hydroelectric to Nuclear fuels to generate electricity.

But even though selling electricity is Southern Companies mission – helping their industrial customer use energy efficiently is a key to their future success.

“Without competitive industry, we will have a power generation and distribution network but no customers” explains Bill Pasley, who helps head up marketing of new technologies. “So an important element of our business is to help US manufacturers to be more productive and use less of our power to make their products, and UV LEDs are part of that approach” says Pasley.

To that end, Southern Company has invested in constructing and equipping two state of the art Technical Application Centers located in Atlanta at their Georgia Power subsidiary and in Birmingham at their Alabama Power facilities. The centers, or TACs are charged with identifying and developing new electro-technologies for industry and then introducing the technology to their local customers.

“The TACs become a pilot scale testing and process development step in the process for implementing new and better technology” says Scott Bishop, a process engineer with Alabama Power. “Alabama Power is taking the lead by investing in technologies that we predict are emerging as energy saving, productivity improvements for our industrial base so that they can test drive new processes with a reduced cost to them. It lowers the barrier to entry and helps accelerate the adoption of these new ideas” says Bishop.

“One of these new technologies is UV LED curing” says Bill Pasley. “We see the impact of LEDs in our commercial and residential customer base everyday” says Pasley “and we have also been long-time advocates of UV curing for industrial applications – so the convergence of UV and LEDs makessense and is clearly part of the future.”

So, recently Southern Company contracted with Phoseon Technology, a supplier of solid-state UV sources, to add UV LED capability to their application centers. “We already had a significant investment in UV technology” says Bishop. “We have a selection of traditional mercury lamps sources including some microwave type lamps and conventional arc lamp sources, and ancillary equipment for testing and measuring UV processes. This provides yet another opportunity for us to explore UV with customers” says Bishop.

Southern Company sees growing interest in UV among their industrial clients in a wide range of areas. “We are promoting UV in some areas where UV is already well established” explains Pasley “like printing and packaging.” Phoseon is already well established in these graphic arts applications where UV LEDs are being used in high speed inkjet, narrow web and wide web printing processes. “But we are also introducing UV to other industrial coating and adhesive curing jobs” says Pasley.

For example, one Southern Company customer near Birmingham has been working with their TAC to develop a UV clearcoat that goes on top of an ink transfer application. This process allows complex shapes like a bicycle or ATV to be decorated with nearly any pattern such as camouflage. The UV coating offers a clear, scratch resistant protection to the ink. Today this customer uses a thermal top coating. Southern Company with Phoseon’s help has demonstrated that UV curing allows them to make parts faster and with less scrap or rework since the coating is fully cured so much faster.

“The energy business has changed a great deal” observes Pasley, the days of just trying to sell more electricity to customers have evolved into trying to make our customers more efficient and productive so they can remain competitive and continue manufacturing in our service areas. We view solid state UV curing as part of the arsenal we are developing to help manufacturers do things with less energy and environmental impact.”

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