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Mar 1, 2013 - Building

New Lighting Standard Replaces Old Standard Lighting

WAGO’s newly developed lighting concept reduces lighting power consumption in BMW production facilities by more than a quarter

For decades, BMW has been a household name among car and motorcycle enthusiasts alike, and now the same holds true for building and automation engineering experts. While the first group associates the brand with innovative motors and vehicles, the latter thinks of a new lighting control system, which lowers the energy costs of the popular Munich-based company by around 30 percent. BMW is gradually expanding this solution based on WAGO components to make it a company-wide standard as part of its sustainability strategy.

Environmentally responsible action is only really effective when both sides of the coin are taken into account: the product itself, along with its entire development process. BMW is an automotive manufacturer that places priority on ecological and social aspects; as such, the company has been a permanent member in the “Dow Jones Sustainability Group Index” since 1999. And to ensure that it will also remain on the stock index for companies exercising sustainable business practices in the future, the Munich-based company is continuously working on programs for active energy optimization.

Building Lighting under Scrutiny

One such measure even applies greater scrutiny to the existing lighting technology in the production facilities. This project was undertaken even though substantial optimization had already been achieved recently in this sector using a new central I&C system. This included, among other improvements, switching off the main lighting in the production facilities during idle times. Likewise, BMW was already employing the possibility of switching off individual phases in the three-phase power bus as needed. However, without making any changes to the busbars, which were installed with traditional electronic ballasts, the potential for savings was soon exhausted.

A quick glance at the lighting plan from that time sufficed to show management how far the lights were from the desired optimum: All lights had been planned based on the reduction in luminosity that would occur as the lights aged. However, because the technical expense for frequent manual adjustment would have been too costly, and the technology necessary for automatic adjustment had not yet been developed, the lights were installed from the beginning with significantly over-designed luminosity. This was the only means for ensuring that the lighting intensity, required by the pertinent standards, would still be achieved at the predefined time for maintenance. This concept inevitably resulted in inefficient lighting, as energy consumption was unnecessarily high.

User-Friendly and Area-Oriented Concept

The next logical step, after upgrading the central I&C system, was to modernize the hardware at the automation level. In fact, this required a solution that could be used both in newly constructed production facilities, which are equipped in the field with DALI and EnOcean, as well as in retrofit projects, in which BMW planned to retain the existing, conventional technology. The fact that the two technologies, i.e., old and new, could be easily combined was one reason that Jörg Tratzl, the electrical systems planner responsible, ultimately decided on components from WAGO. Another reason was the particularly user-friendly handling for controlling I&C operating devices that WAGO developed for BMW.

The new lighting distribution system is not only up-to-date from a technical standpoint, it also puts special focus on the needs of the end customer: In contrast to the lighting distribution systems used previously, the electrical installation specialist does not have to perform any complicated programming during commissioning or during his everyday work. Instead, the area-oriented software can be adapted to individual needs using only the parameter settings – and this via the graphic user interface provided by any Internet browser. This saves time on the one hand and also eliminates the need for additional expertise, which results in significant reductions in both energy costs and the expenses associated with engineering. The basis for this are the WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM 750 ETHERNET Controllers, which are installed in the local control cabinets in the production facilities with I/O modules for DALI, EnOcean, as well as standard analog/digital inputs and outputs. From there, they control each and every electronic ballast.

This allows the lighting to be automatically dimmed according to the lighting schedule. This achieved the first noticeable savings in energy costs, which were generated while simultaneously complying with stringent operating standards. A further advantage is also achieved using DALI: Instead of having to activate entire circuits, so-called short addresses are used to control each individual light. The individuality achieved thereby allows the short addresses to be assembled into groups. Thus, virtual rooms can be depicted on the display using WAGO’s Web visualization, which – just like physical rooms – can be autonomously regulated. For the BMW production facilities, this means that lighting can be optimally adapted for construction work or building re-assignment with only a few clicks of the mouse.

Automated and Integrated Workflows

The lighting distribution boards standardized by BMW have proven themselves in more than 100 installations at a wide range of locations within the corporate group. Simple configuration of the WAGO control system via an Internet browser has reduced the commissioning time for each lighting distribution board from several days to only a few seconds. Relays can be installed or removed with just a few turns of the hand using pluggable sockets. “This, of course, also reduces costs during ongoing operations, as the maintenance work can be performed much more quickly,” explains Jörg Tratzl.

Replacement of the hardware is, however, the only activity that still needs to be performed manually at BMW, stresses the electrical systems planner: “Since the WAGO ETHERNET Controllers communicate directly with the plant management software, we have been able to practically perfect this workflow: The exact position of defective lighting is reported, operating hours counters are reset after replacement of the components, and the brightness levels are adjusted automatically.”


  • Lighting energy reduction by more than 30%
  • Commissioning and adjustment without any programming
  • Parameterization via Internet browser saves time and requires no additional expertise

Text: Jürgen Pfeifer, WAGO
Photo: WAGO

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