October 2015

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Transformational Companies Can Shake Up The Lighting Controls Market

Smart mobile devices are fast becoming the new interface to virtual room/space control.
Mike Welch

Mike Welch,
Managing Director,

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In the business world, transformational change involves a company making radical change to its business model and the associated business structure, culture and management. In today’s technologically advanced marketplace, a great deal of emphasis, support and financing is given to start-ups. However, more established companies with an existing client base can alter their businesses to make the most of the new business opportunities that innovative technology is presenting to the real estate industry, says Mike Welch, Managing Director at CNS.

The real estate industry has been notoriously slow to adapt to technological changes but investors are now putting a record amount of money into real estate tech start ups to the tune of around $1.4bn globally. Much of this investment however has focused on the consumer, shifting control away from the landlord or building owner. However, some forward thinking companies are utilising convergent mobile technologies to give landlords flexible, cost-efficient, energy saving solutions for their buildings.

Smart mobile devices are fast becoming the new interface to virtual room/space control. These devices have a range of open standard protocols to communicate with both remote and local services and devices to perform a wide range of functions. With building and lighting controls in particular, this kind of technology is revolutionising the market.

By applying the potential of emerging, de-facto web convergent platform technology such as that being pioneered by companies like Tridium to building controls and seamlessly connecting open standard solutions such as DALI for intelligent lighting and EnOcean for wireless energy harvesting device networks, the physical architecture of these solutions can be dramatically simplified – reducing the commissioning time and risk involved. However, building owners need to be aware of the interoperability of various products that are in the market today and also look at the standards that underpin these technologies.

New University HospitalThe benefits of wireless energy harvesting building control solution technologies such as EnOceanŽ, ZigBee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth and WiFi are already well known. However, when it comes to choosing solutions that are interoperable; combining the use of different manufacturer products, the correct solution needs to be carefully chosen, as it is a feature that is easily overlooked.

When considering wireless controls, international open published ISO/IEC standard low power wireless communications systems such as EnOcean are a well-known solution. The benefits of EnOcean technology include no wires, no batteries, energy harvesting and virtually no maintenance. Therefore, at face value, systems like this appear to be a “no- brainer” decision.

However, wireless is not a controlled environment and it can change at any time, thus effecting wireless system performance. Depending upon which wireless technology is chosen, often each device (both end and network) requires a continuous power supply. It is also not an environment that lends itself to “deterministic” control requirements. In other words, when, for example, a wireless light switch is operated, it’s not about the ON signal eventually reaching the lamps but ensuring it reaches the lamps every time and within a second or less.

Here though a common problem arises, although a product or solution provider may state their products are based upon wireless standards, this may not guarantee that they are interoperable with a different manufacturer’s product or solution based upon the same wireless technology. In order for this to be possible, additional standards are needed.

In the world of EnOcean, for example, these requirements are known as EnOcean Electronic Profiles (EEP). This ensures that EnOcean products that conform to a given EEP will interoperate with another manufacturer’s EnOcean product that also conforms to the same or relevant EEP.

Often, those offering wireless solutions on the basis of just price alone do not understand that a site considering any wireless technology solution must be site- surveyed to check that a solution is possible, and is likely to be reliably designed and installed.

Alongside this, wired control solutions are also subject to similar challenges when the end client is trying to establish the standard’s dependence and vendor independence of an offered control solution.
A classic example of standard compliance confusion can be seen in the traditional lighting controls sector. The global published and recognised open standard for full two-way communication with intelligent light fixtures, irrespective of the bulb technology is known as DALIŽ (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface) and can be found under IEC 62386.

30 Baker StreetMany traditional, global, lighting control solutions companies advertise and sell their solutions as being based on DALI. The problem is, they don’t tell the real estate clients or end clients that their entire offering is not entirely based on the DALI (maybe just the last metre/yard of cabling actually is DALI) and their particular DALI implementation will not guarantee any interoperability with other DALI manufacturer product parts.

The key is understanding what the current DALI standard IEC62386 guarantees and what is excluded. The current DALI IEC standard, in place since the late 1990’s, guarantees 100% interoperability between all manufacturers’ products that are produced to the IEC standard and are marked with the DALI logo. However, this standard currently only applies to the light fixtures whether they are LED, incandescent, fluorescent etc. and not any other components such as sensors, switches or scene controllers that may be connected to the DALI network. These components are specific to the manufacturer and control solution provider. Over the next couple of years, however, this issue is to be addressed with the release of the DALI 2 standard, and will ensure interoperability between all components on a DALI 2 system.

contemporary Many high quality, efficient open published communication standards, both media and non-media specific, have had their reputations damaged through the lack of understanding as to what they actually do and don’t deliver, along with confusing sales and marketing messages by traditional control solution suppliers.

To combat this confusion, end clients should look out for the open published standards such as ISO/IEC to ensure the fullest interoperability of their smart building and lighting controls solutions.

For further information and guidance on this topic, please visit: http://bit.ly/1W3UGJ3



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