Nov 29, 2023

Digitalizing pool management with IoT

Alexis Leibbrandt

Teaming up with experts from gammaRenax, comtac, and headbits, we integrated IoT technology to convert a conventional pool into a smart, connected facility. The transformation resulted in a streamlined operational process, eliminating manual overhead, and introducing new efficiencies.

In a rapidly evolving digital era, digital retrofitting emerges as a key strategy for modernization. It is about enhancing existing systems with new digital layers, not replacing them. A prime example is the current collaboration initiated by gammaRenax that transformed a conventional public pool into a smart, connected facility. By integrating IoT technologies into an existing installation, we have streamlined operational processes, significantly reducing manual overhead, and introducing new efficiencies.

Let’s dive into this IoT-based digitalization case.

Initial challenges in pool management

gammaRenax, a company specializing in facility services, identified critical issues in the operation and management of public pools, particularly in areas related to lifeguard responsibilities and pool maintenance.

The first challenge concerns manual and time-consuming processes. Essential tasks, such as recording water quality measurements, were performed manually using pen and paper, requiring repetitive and tedious manual effort. These measurements were recorded mostly by lifeguards. Their absence while checking water quality not only impacted safety but also the management of the pool's technical equipment.

Manual workflow before digitalization

Moreover, the current procedures created inefficiencies in monitoring and reporting. The analog system for water quality monitoring was outdated, involving lifeguards physically checking systems in less accessible locations like the basement. This process was inefficient and prone to delays in response to pool issues.

Finally, as one can imagine, manual data entry for pool parameters was not only time-consuming but also susceptible to human error, affecting the accuracy and reliability of the data.

This situation led gammaRenax to recognize the need for an innovative solution to modernize these processes, reduce reliance on manual labor, and improve overall pool management efficiency. Together with akenza, gammaRenax envisioned a system that would automate data collection, enable real-time monitoring, and provide a more efficient, proactive approach to pool management.

This led to the implementation of an IoT-based solution to address these challenges, ultimately enhancing the operational efficiency and quality of service in pool management.

Automated workflow after digitalization

An IoT-based pool management solution

The digitalization of the pool monitoring involved the interconnection of several key components.

At the origin of the system lies the existing water quality sensors. These sensors are capable of monitoring critical parameters like pH levels, chlorine concentration, temperature, and overall water quality. They provide continuous, essential data for maintaining optimal pool conditions.

Existing water quality sensors

One of the challenges to address was transmitting this data to the cloud to replace the manual readings. To ensure efficient data transmission of the water values, we employed LoRaWAN technology, which is known for its low power consumption and long-range capabilities. As the existing pool monitoring equipment communicates via Modbus, an LPN Modbus bridge from comtac allowed the reading of the data from the bus and subsequent LoRaWAN transmission to the akenza IoT platform.

All data collected from the sensors is then decoded, aggregated, and stored in the akenza platform. This enables real-time access to the data in the cloud and immediate visibility of the pool conditions.

Once the data is available in the cloud in a structured format, it becomes possible to derive insights into the water quality and deliver those to the end user. This is what the ARGUS app developed by headbits is achieving.

Example sensor reading on the ARGUS application

This web application facilitates the reading of the sensor measurements and allows the user to enter additional manual measurements. The data is synchronized back to akenza, making sure to have one central data repository for measurements, no matter if they are done by hand or sent by a sensor.

The ARGUS app is mainly meant to access the automatic and manual measurements in a combined view. But that’s not all.

Users can also compare multiple pools among each other and define custom date ranges to refine the displayed data. This allows users to answer most of their questions intuitively and directly on the ARGUS app.

The app is also used to generate standardized reports to cantonal authorities. These reports can be generated ad-hoc and sent on a weekly basis to the administrators of the tenant. After a quick review, they can apply a digital signature and forward it to the respective authorities.

Finally, the ARGUS app handles alerts and notifications for specific situations. This allows to proactively inform users in case of issues so they can react before critical thresholds are even reached.

Benefits of the solution

"We firmly believe that the synergy between system, humans, and processes is the key to success. It allows us to overcome obstacles, solve problems, and create opportunities."
-Patrick Fischer, IoT Project Manager at gammaRenax

The solution developed in this project offers the following benefits:

  • Efficiency in operations: Automation of data collection and real-time monitoring reduces the time and effort required for pool management tasks, freeing up staff for other responsibilities.

  • Reduced dependency on manual processes: By automating critical pool monitoring tasks, the solution minimizes reliance on individual employees for data collection and analysis, mitigating the impact of their absence.

  • Enhanced accuracy and reliability: Automated data collection and digital reporting reduce the potential for human error, ensuring higher accuracy and reliability of pool parameters.

  • Proactive management and rapid response: Real-time data availability allows for prompt identification and resolution of pool issues, enhancing the overall maintenance and safety of the facility.

  • Scalability and adaptability: The akenza platform allows for the smooth integration of additional sensors or expansion of functionality, catering to future requirements or technological advancements.

This case study is a great example of the transformative potential of IoT in facility management. By adding a connectivity layer to an existing infrastructure, we facilitate the digitalization of operational processes and enable the creation of new digital services.

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