December 2013

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EMAIL INTERVIEW –  Graham Martin, Louis Hamer and Ken Sinclair

EnOcean Alliance

Graham Martin, Chairman, EnOcean Alliance
Louis Hamer, Global Business Development Schneider Electric, and Chair EnOcean Alliance Marketing Working Group

EnOcean Alliance promotes Collaboration

The EnOcean ecosystem is a very innovative community and uses the Alliance as a platform for partnerships to develop integrated solutions.

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SinclairLast year the EnOcean Alliance achieved a significant member growth. Has this trend continued?

Martin:  Yes, we have seen a significant member growth with industry leaders joining the Alliance. For example Schneider Electric, Toshiba, Helvar or Hubbell; and recently LIXIL, a Japanese giant in the living and housing solutions industry. We still see energy harvesting wireless solutions gaining a great traction on markets around the world. The commercial building sector is still one of the strongest where energy efficiency measures are a main driver. Besides this, the market requests automation solutions that bring together several parts of a building and connect them to an intelligent system. This approach synchronizes the control of HVAC, lighting, shading and other technical parts including data analytics and the IT for an optimized, situation-related balance of comfort, security and energy savings. Automation is no longer a sum of isolated applications but a highly integrated system.

This demand drives adoption of energy harvesting wireless systems that offer device interoperability and an open interface approach to connect to other communication standards. EnOcean Alliance ensures this by further developing the interoperability level even for an increasing number of application variations. Companies recognize the benefits of the batteryless, maintenance-free technology and, at the same time, they get offered a partnership platform and established knowledge-base in the EnOcean ecosystem. Both help companies to integrate the EnOcean standard in their portfolio quite quickly and to meet the more sophisticated market demands.

SinclairHow does the EnOcean Alliance further develop the devices’ interoperability?

Martin:  The Alliance’s Technical Working Group regularly defines and approves standardized communication profiles for several applications in building automation. Generic Profiles, a new communication convention, now add to this interoperability principle. It is the first generic language for the communication of energy harvesting wireless solutions. This is particularly suitable for new product designs, which are intended to be mapped dynamically to different applications.

SinclairWhy this generic language?

Martin:  Due to the organization’s growth, there is an increasing number of energy harvesting wireless product providers in the EnOcean Alliance. The result is also an increased application variety for batteryless wireless communication. For each application, the EEPs (EnOcean Equipment Profiles) define the communication between the devices. In today’s interconnected systems there are some devices, such as multi-purpose sensors, that cover several functionalities. Using the generic language definition of Generic Profiles, the device can inform the receiving side itself on the functionalities it covers. The receiving side then can only use the functions it needs. This brings high flexibility to new batteryless product developments and ensures interoperability even of more complex products.

SinclairWhat are the latest product developments in the Alliance?

Martin:  The EnOcean ecosystem is a very innovative community and uses the Alliance as a platform for partnerships to develop integrated solutions. So, the focus is not on isolated product suites but solutions that can be combined and contribute their benefits in a broader system.  In the past months, there have been more companies that bring together several communication standards via integrated gateway control solutions. This meets one of the main demands on the building automation market today. In addition, our members further develop the use of energy harvesting wireless abilities in new products. One is a heating radiator valve that only uses temperature differences to power the wireless communication and the movement of the valve itself. Another trend is “one-in-all devices” such as multi-purpose sensors that can measure temperature, light, presence, CO2 and humidity.

Sinclair Automation is a fixed player in commercial buildings – to save energy, increase a building’s value and attractiveness, and improve comfort skills. But what about the residential market; is there a similar tendency?

Martin:  In general, the automation principal in the residential is the same as in the commercial sector: You need a central control, Internet-connectivity for remote access, and quite a few sensors and actuators working together to send and receive control data from different places in the house. This last leg in the communication level needs to be wireless whereas service and maintenance effort required by individual nodes has to be minimal. This brings in three main wireless technologies: one for transferring large amounts of data, like WiFi, one for providing remote access from anywhere, like GSM and finally one for transferring control and measurement data from tiny sensors, like EnOcean. All three need to work together seamlessly.

But in contrast to the commercial building market, the smart home sector still lacks a broad user acceptance. Amongst others, this is caused by too complex, proprietary systems which are anything but user-friendly. In addition, the market is waiting for one standard that fixes all problems and covers all functionalities. In my opinion, this is the wrong strategy and has cast a damp over the smart home market for many years. The only way to reach the user is the seamless combination of existing standards and communication technologies via open interfaces. This will give the user the full range of choice to find the optimal smart control in accordance with his individual needs and the ability to extend the system any time independently of particular manufacturers. The EnOcean Alliance follows this approach from the very beginning and started to transfer it from the commercial to the residential sector. In addition, we bring the benefits of batteryless, maintenance-free systems to the home.

SinclairLouis, it’s now more than a year that you have taken the role of the Chair of the EnOcean Alliance Marketing Committee. What were your main objectives and what is your conclusion of the past few months?

Hamer:  Our main objective in the past year was to reach out and promote the solution to system integrators, property owners and managers who are looking for cost effective ways to control and monitor their buildings. We have invested in a few areas to reach our goal such as a SEO (search engine optimization), presence in more than two dozen trade shows, some networking events and roadshows, and finally a concerted effort to get published in trade magazine read by our target stakeholders. I am most pleased to see that our SEO efforts have helped get the EnOcean Alliance website top rankings for many keywords and is generating leads for our members.

We also released a Japanese and Chinese website which, combined with some well-planned networking events, translated into a huge growth in membership from these two countries.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]SinclairYou will also be attending this year’s Connection Community Collaboration in New York during AHR Expo. What are you expecting from this meeting and why would you recommend other industry players to join?

Hamer:  Customers are requesting solutions to their pain points, not specific technologies or protocols. Connection Community is all about the industry from different vendors and different technology Alliances getting together to ensure we create the required synergies for interoperable and scalable solutions. The EnOcean Alliance offers great technology to answer some key pain points but it also realizes that it needs to interact with many other communities to offer a full solution.

SinclairAs Global Business Development at Schneider Electric, where do you see the main trends in building automation in the next few years?

Hamer:  As I answered to the previous question, the biggest trend is providing pre-packaged solutions for customers. Effectively, industrializing solutions that include all the pieces of the puzzle to install a Building Management System to reduce energy and maintenance costs, while to improve uptime and comfort. As part of this package, Schneider Electric will be offering solutions including EnOcean sensors and actuators, controllers and gateways, as well as IP-based, BACnet-based or cloud-based Building Energy Management Systems. Having a full eco-system of products which can be integrated together easily and even bundled and pre-commissioned will reduce engineering and installation costs. In order to scale and have a broader impact, the industry needs to simplify all aspects of solution delivery to the end customers. Especially for smaller and mid-size buildings, who simply can't afford a complex BMS, simplification is key.

To read last year's Connected Community interview - EnOcean Alliance and the Connection Community

About the Interviewed

Graham MartinGraham Martin, Chairman, EnOcean Alliance
Graham Martin is a veteran of the electronics industry with more than 25 years' experience in analog and RF solutions. Before joining EnOcean, he held various engineering and marketing posts in the USA and Europe. Most recently he was responsible for business development at wireless sensor networks specialist Chipcon. At the same time he was president of Figure8Wireless and vice chairman of ZigBee Alliance. Graham Martin studied in the USA and Britain, and graduated in physics at Edinburgh University, Scotland.

Lousi HamerLouis Hamer, Global Business Development at Schneider Electric
Louis Hamer is a registered engineer and accredited LEED professional who brings over ten years of experience in wireless products for telecommunications, security, and facility automation, as well as considerable marketing expertise. He has worked with a wide variety of businesses and organizations on energy audits and implementation of efficiency measures. Mr. Hamer is a frequent contributor to local and international conferences and publications on the subjects of energy efficiency, wireless technologies and network reliability and security.


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