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 to supply him with LED lights failed to deliver on time. And when the goods finally arrived, some of them broke during in- stallation. Hahn decided to produce the goods himself.
Today, eleven years later, the business is doing well. Over one hundred employees work for the group of companies, and sales topped €33 million in 2018. The company has more than 350 contracts with light lessees—and Hahn estimates annual growth potential at over 40 percent.
But he doesn’t plan to rest on his laurels. The future is connected, and his systems aren’t. That has to change. “We need products for Industry 4.0,” he says. The start will be a bus system integrated in the LED lights. It assigns each unit an individual address and connects to all other lights in the vicinity. The conventional industrial standard can accommo- date 128 addresses—Deutsche Lichtmiete is now promising that its technology will make it possible to switch on, dim, and switch off thousands of lights individually. And in different colors as well.
Another innovation: the 2.0 light strip and a modular plug- in system with “cubes.” These will be equipped with functions and serve as noise or fire alarms, for video surveillance, time and temperature recording, or distance measurement. One potential application: occupational safety. “If cameras and sensors detect that employees are coming too close to a ma- chine, it switches off automatically.” And in addition, Hahn notes, “This technology also makes it possible to use a true pay-per-use model.” In concrete terms: when every instance of consumption is measured and billed right down to the sec- ond, customers no longer have to lease their lighting and other services for a flat fee, but instead only pay for what they ac- tually use.”
But Deutsche Lichtmiete doesn’t aspire to decide the full range of future possibilities itself. Like Apple’s App Store,
76 Porsche Consulting The Magazine
To get in shape for the transformation, Alexander Hahn called in Porsche Consulting. The consultants analyzed Deutsche Lichtmiete and the global market for smart lighting and smart building. After evaluating market models and disruption potential, they developed a robust business model—including potential collaboration partners, who were able to persuade light lessees with start-up pitches.
“The transformation is destabilizing many business models. That’s why
it’s important to question yourself every day.”
CEO of Deutsche Lichtmiete AG
where external companies offer products, the modular system could be also used by third companies as a platform. Deutsche Lichtmiete would remain innovative without having to in- vent every idea itself; for customers, the range of products would grow; and young entrepre- neurs could realize their own business models with greater ease.
Hahn calls it the “Smart Factory Platform”— in-house production of the lights and cubes would becomes less important. Value creation through hardware recedes into the background
and the software becomes more important. In doing so, he aims to get ahead of potential competitors like Amazon and Google, which have the capability to occupy new business fields quickly and with the latest technology.
But without new, and more, employees, the transforma- tion will not succeed. Hahn needs young talent that is at home with the Internet of Things. In Oldenburg, where the compa- ny is headquartered, that is no simple undertaking. The city, located on the northwest coast and well outside urban cen- ters, is not known as an IT mecca, to say nothing of the fact that even better-known companies have trouble recruiting IT experts. But Hahn thinks he may be able to bridge the gap through more collaborations. Until now, he has placed great stock in having as many of the building blocks of his supply chain as possible in-house. But he may well adapt the strate- gy going forward.
Alexander Hahn was able to answer another question, however. It’s the one about the basis of his business. Will we still need artificial light in twenty-five years? “Yes,” he says, “I’m absolutely convinced of that. The demand will still be there.” Not even digitalization can change that.
In-house production
Founder Alexander Hahn is committed to quality and indepen- dence. That’s why he established in-house production capacity at the company head- quarters in Oldenburg, Lower Saxony, rather than outsourcing to producers in Asia.

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