Intelligent control of ventilation systems saves energy

Indoor swimming pools are among the most energy-intensive buildings. Predictive, AI-based control of the ventilation systems offers an excellent way to exploit their full potential for energy savings. Emden University of Applied Sciences and HANSA Klimasysteme worked on these controls in a joint research project. For their solution, they used Siemens technology in the form of industrial edge devices and edge applications for data processing.

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The project

Cooperation between research and industry

At the end of 2017, HANSA Klimasysteme GmbH partnered with the Emden University of Applied Sciences for a research project funded by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt). The project’s aim was to achieve the optimal conditions in an indoor swimming pool with respect to temperature and humidity while also being as energy-efficient as possible. The project team worked with a nearby indoor swimming pool and the new Siemens technology „Industrial Edge“.

The solution

Higher energy efficiency thanks to AI-based forecasting

Once the partnership between the swim center, HANSA Klimasysteme, and the researchers at the Emden University of Applied Sciences launched, data was collected from the installed sensors over the course of a year. The data included not only temperature, humidity, and energy consumption figures from the ventilation system itself, but also information on outdoor weather conditions and visitor numbers, which was collected by the sensors installed in the building. In parallel, that raw data was fed into a neural network-based model, which uses artificial intelligence to learn and thus determine and optimize its own control parameters. On its own, it identifies which actions are best suited for achieving the desired conditions within the swimming hall while maintaining the highest level of energy efficiency.

Small edge device with great connectivity

It soon became apparent that the model-based control system needed a platform on which to run that could serve as an interface to the PLC and provide access to the necessary data. And so HANSA Klimasysteme began its search for a suitable IPC (industrial PC) – and soon found it in the industrial edge device SIMATIC IPC227E, which is part of the Siemens portfolio. It not only met the requisite security standards and general industry standards but also offered a high degree of connectivity, which meant it was easy to integrate into existing systems. Thorsten Wolf, who works in Sales at Siemens, explains the decision: “HANSA Klimasysteme originally came to us with a request for an IPC that could be used to establish a VPN connection. I soon realized that they would be handling huge volumes of data and advised them to go with an edge device.”

Edge apps for intelligent climate control

SIMATIC IPC 227E is operated as an edge device in the open ecosystem Industrial Edge from Siemens. Thanks to the graphical user interface, which includes a set of predefined functions, the edge app Flow Creator makes it easier to create data processing and connectivity solution. In addition, the edge application LiveTwin is also used, which was just in the development stage at Siemens at the beginning of the project, so HANSA Klimasysteme ran it as a pilot. LiveTwin makes it possible to integrate simulation models on edge devices, for example, to enable predictive controls like those needed for the research project. "With the edge app, we've been able to translate the models we've created in Matlab Simulink into the language of the IPC”, says Christian Seltz.

The advantages

Around 20% energy savings

Previously, the ventilation system’s controls merely responded to events as they occurred, such as increased visitor numbers or elevated humidity. Now it is now able to make predictive adjustments – that is, before events even take place. Over the last four months, these controls have enabled the swimming pool to reduce its energy consumption by around 20 percent. The next step is to implement this complete solution at additional indoor swimming pools. In fact, it has already been installed in four more pools and the results are currently being validated.

But the solution will not only be available for swimming pools in the future. The plan is to gradually apply the complete solution to the other product lines and to further develop it, for instance, for the pharmaceutical or food and beverage industries. The model would simply need to be adjusted in Matlab Simulink for the customers involved and the requirements on site, and loaded onto the edge device using SIMATIC LiveTwin. Many industry clients could have the same experience as the Saterland pool: They could achieve intelligent, energy efficient and thus resource-saving climate control on the basis of live data.

Of course, the potential for savings is very high at indoor swimming pools because their operation is so energy-intensive. But these principles can be applied in other sectors as well, to help achieve energy savings wherever our ventilation systems are in use.
Christian Seltz, Head of the MSR department at HANSA Klimasysteme

A platform for more transparency: Industrial Edge from Siemens

The new edge computing platform from Siemens consists of Edge devices, Edge apps and Edge connectivity within a centralized application and device management infrastructure. The IPC not only has the model-based control system running on it but also the edge application Flow Creator, which ensures smooth communication between the IPC, the PLC, and the cloud.