Four years ago, OJ Electronics invited three local companies to participate in an unusual collaboration on innovation. Due to their individual skillsets, the four companies were able to contribute to the development of a special prototype within IoT-automation of floor heating, lighting, ventilation and so forth in buildings. This solution, developed in collaboration with University of Southern Denmark (SDU), has shown promising test results. The unique collaboration has also been praised in several external evaluations
At OJ Electronics, the project has further accelerated the level of innovation in the company, yielded valuable experience and thus better prepared OJ for an IoT market strategy.
“We’ve received a cash injection and used it to accelerate our development of IoT-based cloud systems and products. It’s allowed us to improve our expertise and knowledge in terms of designing and building a cloud system for IoT products in particular, but also in terms of selecting the right wireless technologies for our devices. We now have a clearer vision for how to employ machine learning in future generations of our products,” said Finn Kähler, Software Development Manager and Project Manager at OJ Electronics.
The project resulted in a new IoT controller prototype utilizing AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning. The four companies contributed with technology from their individual areas of strength. Furthermore, using these results, SDU merged the technology in a demonstration model, where the CO₂ sensors, pressure and temperature meters, activity sensors and other sensors work together.
Internet of Things is an area undergoing rapid development, and IoT-solutions may significantly impact energy consumption in the future. With a system that can collect data from light, ventilation and heating, it is possible to adapt indoor climates to individual needs. For instance, this could be applied to a conference room, where the heating and light are turned off when the premises are not booked. This benefits the environment as well as the people using the building by ensuring an optimal indoor climate.
”We are experiencing high demand for digital solutions, that through data allows you to learn and understand what is happening. When you know what is happening, you can optimise and innovate. Data also allows us to document which efforts pay off and which don’t. And that’s when things get really interesting. This is an area undergoing rapid development at the moment. And we have to ride that wave,”says Kieran Wandahl Lass, international Key Account Manager at OJ within HVAC. He deems the market will be fully mature for the technology in 5-10 years.
The same timeframe applies to OJ’s other business area – Floor Heating – where, for example, a automation system regulating both floor heating and ventilation could reduce the energy consumption of a private home. Intelligent Automation can prevent the two systems from counteracting one another – instead ensuring that the heating is turned off if the ventilation system is active – Using intelligent control will make it possible to reap environmental and financial benefits also in private homes. This is the assessment of Peter Hovmann Nielsen, global account manager for floor heating at OJ Electronics.
However, within our own field – thermostats for floor heating – OJ Electronics is already well underway and has been working with IoT solutions since 2014.
“It started seven years ago with the possibility of controlling floor heating via a phone app. Then the IOT wave developed into a demand for being able to speak to your ‚floor heating‘ so that you today are able to control your floor heating by using voice command services like Amazon Alexa or Google Home voice assistant. OJ is committed to the IOT journey, which will continue and has yet to realise its massive potential. The next step will involve using data or intelligence from, for example motion sensors that will register that you are doing your bathroom routine every morning starting at 7 am. By use of machine learning your floor heating system will by itself make sure that your floor is warm when you need it and that the under-floor heating is turned off when you aren’t there,” explains Peter Hovmann Nielsen.
The technology will not be available to the public tomorrow, but the IoT project involving collaboration with the three neighbouring companies has provided valuable insight and experience that OJ Electronics will carry into the future.
Project manager Finn Kähler concludes by saying:
“We are actually so happy with the result that we are now looking for the opportunity to extend the partnership to a new project focusing on machine learning.”
The other companies involved in the collaboration are Niko, Damm Cellular Systems and Automatic Syd. The EU’s Regional Development Fund is providing DKK 10.2 million to support the project.
To learn more about IoTstyring, the project and its results, click here
Internet of Things (IoT): IoT consists of technologies where products and systems are connected via the internet so that data from the products can be applied. Source: Danish Technological Institute 2019
The participants in the innovation work:
- OJ Electronics, Sønderborg, project manager, electronic products manufacturer within ventilation and floor heating management.
- Niko, Sønderborg, works with light management and lighting.
- Damm Cellular Systems, Sønderborg, supplier of private and secure radio communication systems.
- Automatic Syd, Broager, one of the country’s leading suppliers of electrical panels, control equipment and automation solutions for industry.