Nov 1, 2014 - Building
Key to Greater Efficiency
Smart buildings significantly reduce energy consumption. Thus, it is truly smart for all the technical components to be intelligently networked. Lanfer Automation GmbH, based in Borken, Germany accomplishes this using WAGO controllers. The result is not just energy savings, it also opens up energy synergies.
Alfred Lanfer scans a QR code on a conference room’s door with his smartphone in order to prepare for the next meeting. With just one finger swipe on a tiny screen, the blinds lower, the lights dim and a projector and screen descend from the ceiling. “This is the presentation function that we were able to realize with just one switch by using EnOcean technology,” explains the CEO of Lanfer Automation GmbH.
This small, concerted effort of technical finesse is just one piece of what the project developer, located in the Westphalian town of Borken, can do. The company completely renovated its headquarters in late 2013, in which the building was equipped with innovative automation technology — from cellar to ceiling — and targeted energy efficiency. It would be easy to view the entire office building as one big showroom. “Technologically, a lot more can be done today than is conventionally implemented,” explains Lanfer. And the company from Borken wants to demonstrate just what can be done. However, the building does not just reflect the visionary philosophy that led to the company's founding in 1979; the project also reveals a groundbreaking change in the design and networking of technical systems.
Linking Intelligent Islands
Another finger gesture on the smartphone allows Lanfer to reset the conference room to its original configuration. “The demands placed on buildings and individual rooms naturally vary quite a bit,” he says. “The basic idea is to accommodate multiple demands under one roof. It can't be too warm or too cold, the light has to be right, and at the same time, everything has to be as energy efficient as possible. The key to this is automation. Moreover, the individual intelligent components cannot be intelligent islands. It is really smart and efficient when they are networked.” This type of integrative application has been a focus of sector experts for a long time, as the potential for additional energy savings is high.
While energy efficiency is an important factor in real estate, according to Lanfer, these types of projects are uncommon. “Only a few design companies are currently pursuing integrative concepts in which the individual building's individual systems are synchronized with each other.”
Whether it’s heaters, air-conditioning technology or illumination, Lanfer says each system presents good opportunities for adding intelligence to buildings and for using energy as efficiently as possible. However, since these individual building sectors in their traditional forms do not have overlapping technology and combined installations, the end result is not always the optimal. “A typical example is when the heating and cooling systems work against each other. It is too warm, so the air conditioning system automatically switches on; however, the heating does not switch off integrated concepts. The point of origin is the basement, where the central heating unit, supplied by district heat, is located. The central heat was connected to the building-wide ETHERNET bus system, which intelligently distributes the warmth. In addition, sensors constantly measure all of the office temperatures on the building’s three floors, where the heating system and a synchronized air-conditioning system adjust the actual values to meet the target. The current outside temperature, as reported by a linked weather station, is also included. And there’s more: movement sensors detect whether anyone is in a particular room. If no one is there, the system shuts off the lighting and reduces the heating level. In addition, light sensors measure brightness levels in the offices and dim the LED-equipped rooms to optimal levels. Of course this occurs in coordination with external shades that are lowered automatically depending on the angle of the sun; this in at the same time,” explains Lanfer. An integrated concept would prevent this. In this case, the advantages extend well beyond additional energy savings. Synergistic effects also came from the installations themselves; for example, bus technology alleviated the need for laying multiple cables. Lanfer Automation achieves additional savings by using the flexible WINSTA® Connector System from WAGO, which simplifies connections between systems and devices.
Getting a Grip on Interface Problems
With the renovation of their own headquarters, Lanfer Automation proved how dormant possibilities can be successfully exploited by integrated concepts. The point of origin is the basement, where the central heating unit, supplied by district heat, is located. The central heat was connected to the building-wide ETHERNET bus system, which intelligently distributes the warmth. In addition, sensors constantly measure all of the office temperatures on the building’s three floors, where the heating system and a synchronized air-conditioning system adjust the actual values to meet the target. The current outside temperature, as reported by a linked weather station, is also included. And there’s more: movement sensors detect whether anyone is in a particular room. If no one is there, the system shuts off the lighting and reduces the heating level. In addition, light sensors measure brightness levels in the offices and dim the LED-equipped rooms to optimal levels. Of course this occurs in coordination with external shades that are lowered automatically depending on the angle of the sun; this in Efficiency central: all building systems and devices can be measured and controlled using proprietary software. turn offloads the air-conditioning system. Additionally, there is a roofmounted photovoltaic system that employs the power of the sun in yet another way. The building's intelligence extends to the doorknobs; red and green LEDs on the outside knob indicate whether or not a conference room is occupied.
Although this may seem rather whimsical, the complete design and the technical implementation is anything but. Lanfer outlines the actual goal, “In coordination with our integrative approach, we wanted to unite all components at central points in order to minimize the interfaces.” In order to harmonize the different systems from the individual building technology sectors, each floor received its own control unit. And at the core of each case is a modular WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM 750.
“In the end, the customer should benefit from the intelligence of the individual technologies and not have to grapple with interface problems. This can be done,” states Lanfer, “using the open and extremely flexible WAGO controllers”. With the WAGO controller, there is basically only one ETHERNET interface. It functions centrally for all data and ensures that the building's technical components work together. For this purpose, the I/O modules collect information belonging to the different bus systems from the individual building sectors, such as from DALI for illumination control and from KNX for the climate system. SMI is similarly integrated for outside shading, as are EnOcean wireless touch switches and many others.
Web-Based Energy Monitoring
Lanfer Automation continues to evolve the system. Most recently, sensors were installed in a few rooms to measure the CO2 content in the air. “The measure of what makes sense regarding intelligence is naturally very individual,” says Lanfer. Thus, the services of Lanfer Automation begin with advising. With engineering firms as partners, the company from Borken determines in advance which technologies and systems are best suited for the project and the customer, and how the cost-benefit ratios look in detail. The services offered extend from installation and construction of control cabinets, up to programming and software development. Lanfer Automation also undertakes maintenance and emergency services around the clock, 365 days a year. Modern security technology is also offered. However, the attraction remains the intelligent unification of all systems used at a central point. Since the WAGO controller also communicates using Internet protocols, maintenance tasks can be managed remotely using the web. Likewise, mobile users with additional software can change settings like room temperature, lighting schemes and other aspects using tablets or smartphones.
Lanfer Automation has also tapped into web-based data retrieval via the WAGO controllers to provide even greater levels of service and support. The automation experts have set up an energy monitoring system that is based on their proprietary software. The tool displays electrical and heat consumption within specified time frames using clear graphics through an Internet browser. Based on these load profiles, companies can meet their legal requirements, determine their energy consumption, implement further optimizations and track how well these measures are working. In the meantime, Lanfer is thinking a step ahead and he shares that, “It is conceivable for us to detect and improve not only the current consumption values, but project future energy consumption based on the analysis.” The anticipated result: utilities would make electricity and heat available at reduced rates. And that would be really smart.
- Easy connection between systems and devices using the WINSTA® Connector System.
- The WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM 750 – modular, open-source and extremely flexible.
- Information from different building sectors, such as SMI, DALI, KNX and EnOcean, in one controller.
Text: Jörg Gruner, WAGO
Photo: Lanfer Automation