Anil Agrawal, CEO & FounderLast year, Anil Agrawal— the founder and CEO of CIMCON Lighting—was in the city of Barcelona with his family, relishing his vacation in the vibrant and enchanted streets of the Catalonian capital. While strolling through a park in the twilight, Agrawal saw his company’s wireless lighting controllers installed, enhancing the quality of the park lamps. The CEO was proud to see CIMCON’s innovation being implemented thousands of miles away from the company’s headquarters in Massachusetts, U.S. “We developed our technologies to allow owners to monitor the health and control the status of their outdoor lighting assets and thus serve as a foundation for a ‘Smart City’. Seeing our solution being used in Barcelona, one of the world’s leading technology and cultural centers, was personally gratifying and validated our approach,” says Agrawal.
Agrawal’s passion to simplify technology and bring it within the reach of many led the young entrepreneur to found CIMCON in 1988. Over the next 20 years, he and CIMCON created a portfolio of products that allowed utilities across the globe to monitor and control distributed assets using a variety of wireless networking technologies at a very affordable cost. Agrawal’s thought leadership in the industrial automation space has been instrumental in the establishment and expansion of his company. “Our focus has always been on developing intelligent products—products that can think, analyze, and potentially predict the requirements from a user,” notes Agrawal.
"We find out ourselves at a very exciting point in the history of the lighting industry that is driven by high efficiency LED lights, IoT technologies, advances in networks and edge computing as well as big data and analytics"
During 2001, cities were facing severe budget constraints, and in some cases, shutting of their streetlights or delaying maintenance. Agrawal sought to find a smart way to save power and reduce the costs of maintaining these assets. The path to this vision was long and filled with obstacles. Often, developing a resilient and flexible platform is not enough to change the course of an industry. ‘Timing’ also plays a critical factor. “As cities and utilities began the process of upgrading their legacy lighting installations to LED fixtures, the availability of wireless controls made coupling the two a powerful combination and thus the timing was perfect,” says Agrawal.
By keeping R&D on the treadmill of new technologies, Agrawal has led CIMCON to become a prominent name in the intelligent lighting control space, enabling cities, industrial facilities, campuses, and parking lots to become "smart" at the intersection of wireless connectivity and smart sensors. Today, the company has pioneered an innovative concept of "Just in Time Lighting". CIMCON uses the latest RF-wireless technology to connect ANSI 7-pin enabled lighting fixtures with CIMCON controllers and a robust, web-based Central Management System (CMS) to help cities, towns, and municipalities manage their street and roadway lighting assets via one easy-to-use platform.
“Our technology gives organizations control over their lighting systems, reduces total cost of ownership and improves ROI,” says Agrawal. The controllers can be quickly and easily installed on LED, Solar and HID-based lamps.
We developed our technologies to allow owners to monitor the health and control the status of their outdoor lighting assets and thus serve as a foundation for a ‘Smart City’
In addition to "adaptive dimming", GPS, energy metering and robust scheduling capabilities, CIMCON's controllers enable the addition of numerous other sensors, including tilt, noise, traffic, motion, and occupancy.
With substantial investments in terms of skill sets and time, Agrawal has plans to drive the R&D department of CIMCON to boost its features and functionalities in highly competitive applications. Agrawal is counting on the role of edge-computing and sensor integration, in the years to come, in that information will be processed at the local fixture or controller level and only the resulting information will be sent through the network. Further, big data and analytics (including predictive analytics) will be critical in the utility space.
With the kind of comprehensive distributed networking capacity that CIMCON’s technologies offer, coupled with Agrawal’s leadership, the company is already driving a path toward smart city development. “We believe we are in a highly interesting phase in the history of lighting, from the advent and rapid adoption of LED lamps, to developments in the IoT, edge-computing, and predictive analytics spaces,” assures Agrawal. And sure enough, the electrical and mechanical nature of the utility industry—more particularly lighting—is transitioning into an electronic and software-defined terrain and CIMCON will help bring about those changes.
Agrawal believes leading by example is the best route to navigate a team towards excellence. “It is all about setting the right expectations,” says the founder of CIMCON. “We should know what is possible and not possible, and accordingly should set the bar for all employees.” Another skill Agrawal has learned is to present the most difficult concepts in the simplest manner, “This can be seen from our mission statement – Controls Simplified,” he adds.
"Our focus has always been on developing intelligent products— products that can think, analyze, and potentially predict the requirements from a user"
CEOs should always remain hungry for the knowledge, to explore uncharted territories, inspire their teams, and to keep their entrepreneurial spirit alive. Agrawal also aspires to bring a difference in the lives of people by leveraging his prominent team and the marvels of resilient technologies. “We find out ourselves at a very exciting point in the history of the lighting industry that is driven by high efficiency LED lights, IoT technologies, advances in networks and edge computing as well as big data and analytics. We are fortunate that we have the opportunity to utilize all of these to the benefit of our customers,” concludes Agrawal. “In the end, it is about putting technology to work for us.”