Smart building cases powered by Phoenix Contact and akenza

Published on by Fabian Gerschwiler

As part of the partnership between Phoenix Contact and akenza, several Smart Building use cases were successfully implemented at the Swiss headquarters in Tagelswangen.

Traditional building automation includes bus systems such as KNX, Modbus, BACnet or M-bus systems. Creating integrations for these technologies is typically effort-intensive for users and operators. The IoT-based building management system Emalytics from Phoenix Contact provides a platform for all central elements of the digital infrastructure of a building. With the IoT-based framework, the data and information of all individual sub-trades can be controlled, evaluated and processed as needed.

This joint project's goal was to optimize the synergies between smart building requirements and modern LPWAN IoT solutions. Phoenix and akenza follow the consistent approach of open IT- standards and thus allow easy integration of new applications. This created the conditions for the two solutions to complement each other perfectly.

Phoenix Emalytics application cut M

Emalytics Application with the 3D building model consisting of LPWAN data

Smart Building use cases

1. CO2 indoor monitoring

Thanks to the ERS CO2 device from Elsys, values such as CO2, humidity, brightness, sound level, movement and temperature are measured in the open-plan office as well as in the meeting rooms and processed via akenza to the Emalytics platform.

Added value:

  • Using additional room sensors with LoRaWAN to provide more accurate measurement improves heating and ventilation control, allowing such infrastructures to operate more energy efficiently.
  • In the future, users can also be informed about air quality via a visual display. The Busylight device from Plenom indicates different colors depending on the air quality. Especially in rooms without automatic ventilation, such a solution can be used to indicate to the user to do shock ventilation for fresh air supply.
Phoenix Elsys sensor cut M

ERS CO2 from Elsys for ambient monitoring

2. Car park monitoring

Company parking spaces are usually a rare commodity, and Phoenix Contact is no exception. One of the challenges, in this case, was that the parking lot was used by visitors' cars and field service vehicles, following different usage patterns. An anonymous parking lot monitoring system was required to display the utilization in real-time in Emalytics. For this purpose, the Bosch parking lot sensors were selected and installed on the parking lot floor.

Added value:

  • The visualization and traffic light display in Emalytics allows better planning when booking parking spaces
  • Parking spaces can be managed on a visitor event basis more easily through the administration office
Phoenix Bosch parking sensor cut S

Bosch Parking sensor

3. Cooling ceiling

Instead of a conventional underfloor heating system, Phoenix Contact relies on the use of chilled ceilings. Currently, these are only equipped with a dew point sensor. If a window gets opened, the throttling of the cooling is delayed until the dew point sensor recognizes the temperature difference as such. As a result, a large loss of energy and the formation of condensation may occur.

In the upcoming phase of the project, the windows states (open/closed) will be monitored by the EMS door sensors from Elsys. This will allow the cooling to be throttled immediately when the window is opened.

Added value:

  • A window opening will stop cooling immediately, preventing the waste of unnecessary cooling energy
  • The solution reduces the risk of condensation on the ceiling with minimal effort
Cooling ceiling

View of the cooling ceiling with a thermal camera

Integration

The integration to the Emalytics application was seamlessly done via the REST API of akenza.
A WebSocket API can be applied if an event-based and real-time API is required. The following system architecture shows the whole IoT stack and highlights the simplicity of processing LPWAN data via akenza to Emalytics.

Akenza phoenix contact diagram 1

System architecture

By connecting the Emalytics application to the akenza IoT platform, LPWAN devices can now be integrated into the Building Management System (BMS) without much development effort. Akenza offers comprehensive connectivity and device management for LPWAN devices. In addition, akenza provides data normalization and processing to third-party applications, like in this case to Emalytics.

If notifications or downlink functionalities are required, the rule engine can be used to apply such business logic to building infrastructures. Furthermore, notification services such as E-Mail, SMS, Microsoft Teams or Slack can be easily used to inform specific recipients about the IoT- infrastructure behavior.

I am thrilled with the ease of use of the akenza platform. We were able to onboard the LPWAN devices into akenza and set up the processing to our Emalytic solution with the lowest effort. Thanks to the low-code functionalities, I still have enough room for maneuver as a software developer.
Simon Obergfell, Software Engineer at Phoenix Contact

About Phoenix Contact

Phoenix Contact is a family-owned company with headquarters in Germany. The group of companies includes fifteen German and four international companies as well as 55 sales companies around the world. Internationally, Phoenix Contact is present in more than 100 countries.

Solutions are used wherever processes must run automatically. This can be in industrial production plants, in the field of renewable energies, in infrastructure or for complex device connections. The products are used wherever power or data flows are connected, distributed and controlled.

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