Smart climate control from the cloud
Since its launch in 2012, Belimo’s Energy Valve has already won twelve international awards, and the company has now teamed up with Ergon to write the next successful chapter in the story of the “Shared Logic” IoT platform. The Energy Valve 3 cloud solution has generated considerable interest in Asia and Europe since its unveiling in 2017.
Belimo used a pioneering project run in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to prove that it was possible to make concrete savings using the Internet of Things, reducing its energy costs by USD 1.5 million thanks to the locally optimised regulation made possible by the smart “Energy Valve”. Flow volume and send/return temperature data readings from air-conditioning units make it possible to calculate temperature differences and levels of energy transfer in addition to gleaning other information – if the heat exchanger is polluted, for example, or some other fault has arisen in the heating circuit. Purely local measurement on individual devices imposes strict limitations on optimal data analysis and the use of information for additional services; developing a cloud solution has allowed Belimo to open up new business fields with vast potential.
Stable services from the Core Cloud
The heart of Belimo’s cloud solution is the Core Cloud, a stable array of services that can be used by all business applications. The Core Cloud establishes a connection with the IoT devices in situ, stores data from these devices (and their users) and also makes it possible to send commands and new settings to equipment. Devices are registered with the Core Cloud upon manufacture (thus receiving their digital birth certificate) and the Core Cloud accompanies an IoT device throughout its entire lifespan, from production, fitting and actual operation when installed right through to its replacement when it fails. Its digital profile in the Core Cloud, the so-called “digital twin”, is constantly updated. Business applications can interact with the Core Cloud via a userfriendly interface (API) and new business cases can be set up within the Cloud. The Core Cloud guarantees the IT security of all the device data that is collected, permitting access only to authorised personnel and services and ensuring that data protection regulations are upheld.
As an incentive for customers to connect their devices to the cloud, Belimo has extended its warranty period for cloudenabled devices by 24 months to seven years. The extended guarantee also covers mechanical components. This means even more added value for customers, and Belimo will have the benefit of a larger database that can be used to make further improvements to the services on offer. Maintenance work will also be made easier as the support team can make diagnoses and order repairs using live data.
Long-term data storage in the cloud provides customers (and Belimo) with “lifetime data access” (longer than 15 years) for every device installed in any building. In future, customers will be able to access the data from their devices themselves (automatically via API rather than simply by looking at graphics), carry out additional processing for their own purposes or include them in their business cases. One practical application might involve integration into the popular IFTTT service, which allows individuals to establish a connection with other internet services and IoT devices themselves. This will open up options for of a wide variety of interactions, e.g. having faults in a Belimo device flashed up using a Philips HUE lamp or controlling “smart” heating at home with Alexa commands.
The cloud solution has been on sale since February 2017 and is available globally. The cloud data is currently hosted in Switzerland but will be distributed worldwide over the medium term because of data protection legislation and other reasons. Many countries such as the USA, Russia and China, for example, not to mention the EU, have specific legal requirements in this field.
The cloud solution’s IT security is corroborated by external security audits and the security measures taken are based on best practice that is also applied in the financial sector.
Zoneease.com: air-conditioning control from the cloud
In Asia, there are plenty of skyscrapers and other commercial buildings equipped with Belimo components. Climate control in large office buildings is typically managed with air-conditioning, and Belimo has developed the “Zoneease” range of services for office high-rises, permitting modular climate control for each office cubicle. The “Room Units” must be linked together before connection and calibration with a master control system for the building (which records physical parameters such as room size, address on the building network, calibration of air distribution in the buildings etc.). All of this used to be set up manually and if the settings were not correct, offices could easily become uncomfortable. Zoneease allows building planners to capture and control all the configuration parameters for the components in the building in the Belimo cloud in advance. The configuration data are distributed to smartphones; the installer on site need only to assign them to the right spot and the relevant configuration data for the location will be automatically downloaded. The progress of the configuration process can be monitored via the cloud and, once the process has been completed, there is even a transfer protocol for handing the office spaces over to the client.