Thorsten Muller, Head of Global Product Group, Building & Home Automation Solutions, ABB, elaborates on the company’s pathway to Industry 4.0 in the contexts of energy efficiency and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Excerpts from the interview he gave to Surendar Balakrishnan of Climate Control Middle East
How much distance has the industry covered in migrating current automation technologies to Industry 4.0? The progress varies enormously from sector to sector. For our part, ABB is increasing looking to selectively use predictive maintenance for our products in order to optimise the building automation system. We already have remote centres around the world monitoring the condition of customers’ installations, and dispatching service or maintenance staff on a need basis. This has significantly increased operational uptime and reduced maintenance cost compared to simple schedule-based maintenance. The VFDs of today can already provide very detailed diagnostic information as well as information about the application, such as the flow conditions and several potential failure modes in a pump. Thorsten Muller I would like to touch upon net-zero-energy buildings. It is only about using technology? Broadly speaking, we are seeing BMS being sidestepped here in the GCC region. So, does net-zero as much depend on proper training and green ethos? And prior to that, on proper specification, installation, commissioning and maintenance? Net-zero goes beyond technology alone. Certainly, proper training in technology, especially on specification, installation, commissioning and maintenance, is a key requirement for our partners. Most importantly, however, they first need to be convinced that this kind of technology will really help to reduce carbon emissions. With cost being a factor for uptake, are we seeing a rationalisation of prices for exponential growth in use of automation technologies? While cost is a general consideration, of course, it is increasingly about not only reducing carbon emission but also enhancing comfort and safety at the same time. Is there broad consensus in Europe that whilst net-zero is a noble goal, we need to pay equal attention to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)? How can automation help find a sweet spot? ABB’s solutions are already designed to increase Indoor Air Quality, not only by temperature measurement, but also with CO2 and volatile organic compounds measurement. Perfect examples of how we are proactively demonstrating such a ‘sweet spot’ include our combined Smart Sensor FusionAir or Tenton. Regardless of which field communication protocols are used, both KNX and BACnet are supported.