Melbourne-based NARVA lights the way, all the way

By: Chris Smith


With much of the transport industry operating after dark, Melbourne-based company NARVA has spent many years working to supply the

With much of the transport industry operating after dark, Melbourne-based company NARVA has spent many years working to supply the right lighting solution for a wide variety of applications.

The company recently opened its doors to journalists, providing an insight into what the company does, and where it is headed for the future.

Initially founded as a manufacturer’s representative company, wholesaling a range of products from tools to furniture and children’s toys, Brown and Watson International now focuses on the automotive lighting and spares market, under its main brand name of NARVA.

Along the way, it has introduced some outstanding products to the marketplace, including LED tail and clearance lights, and also high-intensity discharge (HID) auxiliary lights, using the same technology as up-market car manufacturers BMW and Mercedes Benz.

While much of its product is imported from eastern Europe and North America, it also manufactures a number of products at its Knoxfield (Victoria) complex, including wiring looms for trailer builders.

Chief Executive and majority owner Steve Waterham joined the company as a storeman in 1970, and maintains close links with the company’s main clients, such as Holden Special Vehicles, Kenworth and trailer manufacturer MaxiTRANS.

Waterham says the company manufactures a number of original equipment parts, including the tail light cluster used in current model HSV cars, and an LED indicator and cover assembly for Kenworth.

With an in-house lighting test laboratory, NARVA is able to provide reports on globes showing the length and spread of the beam, as well as reporting on the ‘whiteness’ of the light.

Under Australian regulations, white light is defined by its temperature on the Kelvin scale, with white falling between approximately 3,000 Kelvin and 4,200 Kelvin, so the equipment at NARVA allows them to test for the volume of light, as well as its brightness.

Its test rig also allows for the core of light at the centre of the beam to be measured, to ensure it provides sufficient spread of light to illuminate the road in front of the driver, rather than being too tightly focused, and acting like a pointer.

During a practical test held at night in rural Mount Macedon, NARVA showcased the difference between its halogen and HID auxiliary lights, including its new Ultima 225 HID lamps, which have a range, in pencil beam, of over one kilometre.

NARVA’s Tim Miller, the general manager for marketing, acknowledges it is an imperfect science, depending on an individual’s interpretation of the light available, and their personal preferences.

Miller also warns of fitting imported ‘Xenon Upgrade kits’ for headlights, pointing out they do not meet the established Australian standards, which also require headlight washers and self-levelling technology to be fitted to the vehicle.

He says without these items, light can be ‘sprayed’ or diffused in all directions, including into the eyes of oncoming traffic.

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