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A commercial building where everything is connected

smart commercial connected building zumtobel Source: Norman A. Müller

About two months ago, we had the opportunity to do a fast-paced project with international partners. As the first step in the collaboration, the Zumtobel Group and Bosch.IO (formerly Bosch Software Innovations) decided to develop a remote monitoring solution for commercial buildings. We launched a testbed implementation in the Bosch IoT Cloud on January 11. Our goal was to present the Connected Building solution at the Bosch ConnectedWorld Conference and the Light + Building fair in March, leaving us with just an eight-week time frame.

The testbed monitors the LifeCycle Tower (LCT) ONE building in Dornbirn, Austria. The LCT ONE is the world’s first unclad timber high rise. As a building material, timber has a better carbon footprint than concrete, and the modular building technique using prefabricated parts enabled the Rhomberg Group to build the eight-floor building in just eight days with a five-man crew. The Rhomberg Group is using the LCT ONE as an experimental setup for testing sustainable solutions under realistic conditions.

Headquartered in Dornbirn, the Zumtobel Group is one of Europe’s major manufacturers of indoor and outdoor lighting, lighting management systems, and components. It equipped the LCT ONE with a system for controlling lighting, emergency lighting, and blinds. The system makes use of connected devices, including light sources, controllers, daylight sensors, and presence detectors. By using this setup, the LCT ONE testbed project can avoid the normally high initial costs for hardware and installation.

Functional scope of the LCT ONE project

infographic transforming building data into information Source: Bosch.IO
Three main steps for transforming building data into valuable information

The Zumtobel lighting system is already collecting data on consumption and the state of the devices. For the testbed, the building data is transferred to the Bosch IoT Cloud every minute. The backend application ingests the data, aggregates and enhances it, and calculates the derived KPIs. These include energy consumption, lighting operating hours, failure data, temperature, dimming level, and more.

The LCT ONE testbed implements the following use cases typical of remote monitoring and space management:

  • Remote monitoring: As a facility manager / light-as-a-service provider, I want to benchmark the development of various KPIs (e.g. operating hours, energy consumption, voltage) against given baselines to monitor the fulfillment of service level agreements (SLA). A dashboard lists all the candidates, which can be used to navigate to the affected luminaire.
  • Space management: As a facility manager, I want to see statistics on office space utilization, so that I can use the space more evenly and efficiently. Furthermore I want to have a current usage index of room use to optimize the cleaning frequency.

We used a web interface to visualize the information and enable drilldown actions for the user. The building’s current status is shown on the dashboard using the main KPIs, and the alerts and notifications list device failures and unusual activity.

dashbord visual information lct one Source: Zumtobel Group
The front page of the dashboard with an overview of current notifications

The user can navigate directly to a floor plan that shows the location of the affected device. For the energy use cases, energy consumption is shown per floor and per each individual luminaire, and compared against a predefined benchmark. Similarly, space usage is shown per device and per floor. What I especially like about this function is that we are using existing hardware – the infrared detection sensors that control the lights – for a new purpose.

dashboard infrared detection sensors Source: Zumtobel Group
An overview of space usage on the 7th floor of the LCT ONE building

Partner solution

Using the same cloud backend, we developed two partner solutions in parallel and also presented them at the Bosch ConnectedWorld Conference. This meant more coordination, but we were able to show the advantages of a cloud-based innovation to which partners from France, Sweden, Austria, the US, and Germany were able to easily contribute.

Dassault Systèmes, which belongs to the Dassault Group and specializes in 3D design, implemented a 3D visualization of the LCT One and the device data. Dassault calls it a “virtual twin” of the building, which allows for a more descriptive visualization of the building data.

ModCam is a Swedish start-up with Robert Bosch Venture Capital as one of its investors. Their product, the ModCam camera, doesn’t transmit pictures; instead, it sends meta information that can be accessed as a cloud service.

For the LCT ONE testbed, eight cameras were installed on the second floor. The images were stitched together by ModCam to create one heat map that shows movement intensity.

Connected Building solution up and running

Finally, we got our Connected Building solution up and running at Bosch ConnectedWorld. With all participating partners in attendance, we presented both our web interface and the 3D visualization.

Our presentation met with great interest; alongside the official launch of the Bosch IoT Cloud, we were able to show an application running in this cloud, dealing with real data from a real building.

The Light + Building trade fair in Frankfurt took place the following week. This biannual event is even larger than the international car exhibition, and features everything related to lighting and building automation. The Zumtobel Group presented the Connected Building solution on two large wall screens. I visited the fair for two days, and there was always a throng of people crowded around the monitors.

The next step for our Connected Building solution will be to integrate elevator monitoring to avoid unplanned downtimes and to make it possible to schedule maintenance based on load. A project focusing on this aspect will be starting soon, and could be easily integrated into the dashboard.

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