Abtec BT to launch dedicated Siemens KNX Hub – following signing of distribution agreement

A leading integrator of intelligent buildings networks has confirmed its status as a distributor of Siemens KNX enabled technology.  

To service Siemens KNX users in the UK, Abtec BT, which is headquartered in Leicestershire, has launched a new on-line brand and profile: KNX Hub. The KNX Hub will serve Siemens KNX users – and those who have a need for approved KNX training and support. 

Abtec BT is a multi-award winning business and has been a leading integrator of Siemens KNX products for many years. Several of Abtec BT’s most high-profile projects have used Siemens KNX technology and have been recognised for their technical excellence at industry awards. 

The new KNX Hub, which goes live on September 15th 2020 will, over time, be expanded to offer full e-commerce capability and easy on-line ordering. 

Dave Watkins, Director of Abtec BT, commented, “As a team, we have a long and special relationship with Siemens and in particular its KNX technology. We are very excited by the opportunities that our distributor agreement presents for both parties.  We’re uniquely well placed to offer premium support and training to the market and we look forward to getting things moving. Our new business brand – KNX Hub – will help us to keep our focus; and to better serve the needs of customers. We very much look forward to building on the foundations we’ve put in place.”

Ian Ellis, Marketing Manager at Siemens Building Products: “We are delighted to be working with Abtec on the launch of their KNX hub and look forward to a long and successful partnership.”

To visit the KNX Hub, click here.


Building re-occupation should drive focus on emergency lighting – says Abtec BT on 1st anniversary of ARGOHub launch

Twelve months on from the launch of a ground-breaking emergency lighting software technology, Abtec Building Technologies (Abtec BT) says it is now as important as ever for building managers and operators to focus on building safety.

ARGOHub, a software as a service (SaaS) offering, was launched by Abtec BT last Autumn after five years in development in response to an urgent market need for secure, robust emergency lighting reporting solutions.

With post-Grenfell legislative changes continuing to hit the headlines, the subject of building safety – and buildings which fail to keep occupants safe – remains headline news. Most recently, residents raised concerns about the safety of homes in Brooke House, Basildon, where emergency lighting did not work; the leader of Basildon Council said he would “do what he could” to help residents find new homes if they wanted to move.*

In the commercial sector, with more people returning to their place of work, Abtec BT believes even greater work is needed to shine a spotlight on the ways in which building users can be assured of safety at all times.

Dave Watkins, Director of Abtec Building Technologies, comments: “Building safety continues to need the full attention of our industry – and there must be a ‘no compromises’ approach from building owners and managers. Emergency lighting is about more than the luminaires, and building managers and operators must be sure they can control, monitor and test their emergency lighting systems with ease and confidence. Yet too many buildings reman ill-equipped with outdated systems and testing practices. This means they cannot be relied upon in the event of an incident.

Dave Watkins

“With the recently launched Draft Building Safety Bill, those with responsibility must take a good look at their existing system and ask themselves whether it is truly fit for purpose. We know from experience that integrating technology such as ARGOHub into building management systems will enhance overall building safety and bring peace of mind to building owners, operators and users everywhere.”

Technology solution 

Launched September last year, ARGOHub allows building managers to maintain a close watch on system performance and respond quickly to actual or potential faults. For clients with multiple sites, ARGOHub can be integrated with Google Maps to provide location-based monitoring worldwide. Fully supportive of the current industry standards, ARGOHub can be tested in accordance with BS EN 50172:2004/BS 5266-1:2016, which specify the minimum provision and testing of emergency lighting for different premises.

For more information visit www.argohub.com.


Abtec BT welcomes news of 1000th DALI-2 device certification

News this week of the certification of 1000th DALI-2 product, has been welcomed by leading building controls and networks integration company, Abtec BT.

Confirmed by The Digital Illumination Interface Alliance (DiiA®), the open, global consortium of lighting companies that aims to grow the market for lighting-control solutions based on Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI®) technology, the news offers proof of the growing demand for the DALI-2 Protocol.

Launched three years ago, DALI-2 protocol has established itself very quickly as one of the most popular lighting control platforms on the market.

DALI-2 certification involves rigorous testing and independent verification of test results, which gives confidence in cross-vendor product interoperability. Users and supporters of the technology – including Abtec BT – believe that this significant milestone offers proof of the widespread demand for DALI-2 in the lighting control market, as well as belief in its importance to the sector.

Dave Watkins, Director of Abtec BT sees DALI -2 enabled products as a game-changer in the built environment sector. “We have used DALI certified technology successfully on projects for many years. There is no doubt, however, that DALI-2 gives us a wider choice of products as well as more features and increased testing in comparison with first generation DALI products. We predict that the number of certifications will continue to rise as new tech such as Bluetooth and features come on line – and we look forward to using it to its full potential.”

Commenting on the milestone, Paul Drosihn, general manager at DiiA said: ‘The very rapid growth in certification of DALI-2 lighting control products shows no sign of slowing. The progress we’ve seen to date reflects the advocacy shown by the global lighting industry.’

In addition to LED drivers and other control gear, the list of certified DALI-2 products includes application controllers (devices that make decisions and send commands), bus power supplies, and input devices, which provide user-derived and environmental information to the lighting-control system.


Abtec BT Covid-19 Information

During these exceptional times, at Abtec Building Technologies we are continuing to support our customers as best we can. To ensure continuity of service, we have implemented a number of measures.

Where possible our staff are working at home with a skeleton staff working from the office, following government guidance.

We have to think responsibly and consider the safety of our staff, supporting the Government initiative to slow down the COVID-19 pandemic is our number one priority. In line with the advice to only travel if it is absolutely necessary, we have suspended site-based work where possible. Maintenance and site-based work that is absolutely necessary will be carried out under strict physical distancing, as set out in guidance by the government and the World Health Organisation.

As the situation changes, we will continue to monitor the situation and update you in due course. For more information please call us on 01858 438550 or email enquiry@abtecbt.com.  

We hope you and your families stay safe during these unprecedented times.


Education sector must question if existing emergency lighting systems are ‘fit for purpose’ – says Abtec BT

A leading provider of building management services is urging facilities and building managers with responsibility for educational establishments to ensure their emergency lighting systems are ‘fit for purpose’ – following a spate of high-profile incidents.  

The call for action from building controls specialist Abtec Building Technologies (Abtec BT) comes following a spate of well-publicised safety-related closures of schools and university accommodation blocks across the UK.  Notably, students in Bournemouth were recently given the option to leave their accommodation after a series of hazards were discovered, with inspectors expressing concerns over the fire doors, sprinkler systems, emergency lighting and the fire alarm system.

Incidents such as this have placed a much-needed spotlight on the need for more integrated approaches secure, robust emergency lighting reporting solutions.

Abtec BT, who launched a new software as a service (SaaS) offering – ARGOHub – in 2019 believes too many buildings in the education sector reman ill-equipped with outdated emergency lighting systems and testing practices. This means they are not fit for purpose and cannot be relied upon in the event of an incident.

Fully supportive of the current industry standards, ARGOHub can be tested in accordance with BS EN 50172:2004/BS 5266-1:2016, which specify the minimum provision and testing of emergency lighting for different premises.

“Emergency lighting is about more than the luminaires. From school and college buildings to student accommodation, building managers must be sure they can control, monitor and test their emergency lighting systems with ease and confidence,” says Dave Watkins, Director of Abtec Building Technologies. “It is very worrying that once again, the integrity of emergency lighting in the sector is being questioned. It absolutely vital that all those with responsibility take a good at their existing system and ask themselves whether they it is truly fit for purpose.

“We know from experience that integrating technology such as ARGOHub into building management systems will enhance overall building safety and bring peace of mind to building owners, operators and users everywhere. For any educational establishment that remains unsure of how things can be improved or made more robust and reliable, we are here to help.”

For more information and to download ARGOHub’s white paper visit www.argohub.com.


Abtec BT white paper highlights importance of effective emergency lighting systems

A white paper that answers questions regarding the benefits of non-proprietary, automatic emergency lighting testing and its benefits to building owners, managers and operators has been published by Abtec Building Technologies. 

Effective control and monitoring of emergency lighting systems is more highly prized than ever as building management systems (BMS) come under renewed scrutiny in the wake of recent tragedies. 

In response to an urgent market need for secure, robust emergency lighting reporting solutions, Abtec Building Technologies (Abtec BT) launched a new software as a service (SaaS) offering: ARGOHub. ARGOHub offers powerful functionality for the control, management and fault reporting of emergency lighting systems.

The accompanying white paper includes up-to-date information including:

  • What is the context and landscape around responsibility for emergency lighting?
  • What are the legal requirements for emergency light testing?
  • How is emergency light testing carried out? And can it be automated?
  • What are the benefits of automated testing over manual / self-test?
  • Are secure automated testing solutions available – and how do they add value?

It is essential reading for building owners, operators, managers, facilities managers, health and safety managers, estate managers and bursars operating in the social housing, education and commercial property sectors. 

Dave Watkins, Director of Abtec Building Technologies, comments: “At a time when building safety is under scrutiny like never before it is crucial that everybody involved with the management of large occupancy buildings, including schools, colleges, office complexes, factories and multi-storey dwellings, understands the regulations concerning the provision and testing of emergency lighting systems.

“Put simply, building managers and service companies must be able to maintain consistently effective management and monitoring of emergency lighting systems. Our white paper provides a comprehensive overview of emergency lighting and serves as a reminder of what is required in order for emergency lighting systems to be effective.”

The white paper is available for download at https://argohub.com/white-paper/


New SaaS technology delivers powerful control, management & fault reporting of emergency lighting systems – plus secure data storage

Our new technology, ARGOHub provides building managers with robust monitoring, management and fault reporting of emergency lighting systems across one or more sites.

In response to an urgent market need for secure, robust emergency lighting reporting solutions, Abtec Building Technologies (Abtec BT) is introducing its new software as a service (SaaS) offering powerful functionality for the control, management and fault reporting of emergency lighting systems.

Maintaining effective control and monitoring of emergency lighting systems is a matter of the utmost importance for building managers and service companies throughout the public and private sectors. The Grenfell Tower tragedy and the safety-related closure of multiple schools in Scotland are among the incidents to have prompted a comprehensive review of building management systems (BMS), of which emergency lighting is an integral component.

To offer maximum reassurance in the event of a fire or other building-compromising event, on-premise management of data is reinforced by storage in Abtec’s own cloud platform, which is part of the London-based Telehouse North and East data centres. Since this network is private and is not hosted on the internet, it is fully protected against the ever-increasing number of cyber security threats.

The flexible ARGOHub software means that building managers and other end-users can activate, deactivate and display different HVAC, metering and lighting control layers as additions to the software if required. There is also the opportunity to streamline overall building system control as ARGOHub can reduce the need for multiple head-ends by interfacing with other building systems using open protocols such as KNX and BACnet.

Designed for maximum operational flexibility, ARGOHub employs the KNX open standard communications protocol. Individual groups are monitored and controlled via DALI (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface), with KNX/IP routers enabling the lighting systems to be connected to the overall building emergency lighting system in different operational ‘lines’. The infrastructure can be easily expanded or amended given that each new line is able to communicate with the other lines in the building.

Fully supportive of the current industry standards, ARGOHub can be tested in accordance with BS EN 50172:2004/BS 5266-1:2016, which specify the minimum provision and testing of emergency lighting for different premises. The system will be made available both as an OEM product and a standalone solution.

“From schools and colleges to global corporations there is a need for building managers to be able to control, monitor and test their emergency lighting systems with ease and confidence,” says Dave Watkins, Director of Abtec Building Technologies. “Easy to use, control and test, ARGOHub will enhance overall building safety and bring peace of mind to building owners, operators and users everywhere.”

Discover ARGOHub


Abtec BT wins Contractor of the Year at major industry awards

Abtec Building Technologies (Abtec BT) has been crowned Contractor of the Year at the 2019 Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) Awards.

The prestigious event celebrated achievements in the electrotechnical and engineering services industry, during a ceremony held in London on Friday 7 June.

Abtec BT, a company within Abtec Group, scooped the award in the sub £1 million turnover category for electrical services. The company was lauded for its development of game-changing building technologies and a commitment to exceptional customer service.

Abtec’s award-winning Hydra energy management software was highlighted as it enables clients to easily monitor their energy use without the complexity of a traditional BMS. It is now deployed at sites all over the UK and is trusted by big-name brands including Siemens and Ibstock.

Abtec was also commended for its strong culture of professional development and commitment to open standards for flexibility, including KNX and the Niagara framework. This provides clients with an opportunity to automate more of their building, and future-proof their infrastructure.

Dave Watkins, Director of Abtec BT comments: “We are delighted to have been recognised by such a respected industry body such as the ECA, and this award is testament to the commitment and skills of our team. We’d like to thank the ECA, as the support we’ve received through our membership has allowed us to strive further and reach a wide client base with innovative solutions to energy challenges.”


Abtec BT improves efficiency with environmental controls upgrade across school site

Abtec Building Technologies (Abtec BT) has upgraded the environmental controls in various buildings at Arthur Mellows Village College, a sixth form secondary school located near Peterborough. As well as reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions, the new controls have provided the school with greater ease of use and operational efficiencies.

Serving pupils aged from 11 to 18, Arthur Mellows Village College is a secondary school in Glinton, around 8km north of Peterborough. Although Olympic medal-winning gymnast Louis Smith and footballer Luke Steele (goalkeeper at Nottingham Forest) are among notable alumni, the school is an academy with a specialism in technology. As such, facilities like its Science Department require regular investment.

The original project

Arthur Mellows Village College relocated its Science Department to a new build in 2009, leaving its previous building to become disused and unfit for purpose. However, the school recently wanted to breathe new life into the old Science Department building and, with a combination of funds from DfE grants, The Wolfson Foundation and its own financial resources, Arthur Mellows Village College set about creating a vision that would be called the McLaren Building. The upgraded facility would house art, science and media studies classrooms.

A major aspect of the refurbishment would focus on the upgrading of environmental controls, with Abtec appointed by the project consultant to undertake this work.

“In the old science block we were tasked with providing integrated lighting controls, mechanical vents and a BMS plant room based on Tridium technology – totally replacing the old systems,” explains Phil Peer, Project Manager at Abtec.

Upon completion of the work, it was clear to see that the McLaren Building, which opened in 2016, had been refurbished to a very high standard. Indeed, the facility exceeds current thermal insulation levels. Housed within the revamped building are five dedicated art classrooms, a kiln room, screen-printing room, two science laboratories, a science preparation room, two media rooms, a media studio, a computer room and two further classrooms. The total cost of refurbishment works and fit out was approximately £1.5 million.

Further works

Due to the success of the McLaren Building, Abtec has since completed several additional projects at Arthur Mellows Village College, including the introduction of: a BMS in the humanities block; lighting controls in the newly constructed site office block; and lighting controls and BMS in the sports hall.

“We also performed BMS works in the main plant room, which was originally served by another system,” says Mr Peer. “Equipment has been installed that interfaces with other plant rooms – it’s all in one place. The college sublets spaces for events, so the BMS had to offer easy adjustment.”

Another area that leveraged the expertise of Abtec was the refectory, where extra space was constructed on to the existing block. Abtec provided a solution for controlling the underfloor heating, CO2 mechanical vent, lighting control and plant room controls – all of which were fed from the main plant room.

“Throughout the various projects we adopted an agnostic approach, using DALI, which is industry-recognised open technology,” says Mr Peer. “It was important to avoid reliance on any one manufacturer, so if something needs to be replaced, it can be.”

The systems installed by Abtec also facilitate the automatic testing of emergency lighting on a monthly basis, a function that saves on labour costs and time – boosting operational efficiency in the process.

A common head end sits on a virtual school server, so all data is aggregated back to one place. In addition, a single set of graphics is deployed across all plant rooms to provide the same look and feel.

The results

All of the newly introduced lighting is based on LED technology, which in combination with the Abtec control systems means a better learning environment for pupils. Furthermore, new heating plant is helping to drive energy efficiency and CO2 reductions in line with Part L of the Building Regulations.

“The temperature and lighting is a lot easier to control now, whereas before it was difficult to say the least,” states Gary Wentworth, Site Manager at Arthur Mellows Village College. “We had to go down to the boiler room and locate the right switch, which was not necessarily obvious. Now it’s all centralised on one computer, so we can alter time zones and schedules, and respond to issues quickly; it only takes a couple of minutes. The lighting has daylight harvesting control, which is saving energy as well as ensuring the right light levels for students and staff.”

Photo © Paul Bryan (cc-by-sa/2.0)


Abtec BT lighting control system delivers 60% energy savings at new Siemens facility

Abtec Building Technologies (Abtec BT) has provided the control system for the main and emergency lighting systems at a new Siemens facility in Lincoln, rated by BREEAM as ‘Very Good’. The HYDRA integrated building energy management system (BEMS) from Abtec provides the foundation for the solution, ensuring comfortable lighting levels for staff and the testing of emergency lighting in line with the highest safety standards. Moreover, Siemens is achieving energy savings of up to 60% when compared with a traditional installation, delivering an almost immediate return on its investment.

When Abtec won the Siemens contract it immediately began to assess the task in hand. The new-build storage facility was set to feature a large quantity of racking between which lighting fixtures would be required. It was clear from the outset that the choice and setting of such lighting would have to be optimised to deliver the correct lux levels. While the lighting was supplied by another company, Abtec’s remit was to provide the necessary controls, for both the main and emergency lighting provisions, and deliver system integration to the central battery system in the warehouse.

A further task was to provide a solution for the office block, which takes up around one-third of the new site at Lincoln. Again, the objective was to provide the controls for main and emergency lighting. Daylight, presence and manual dimming control were among client requirements in the office block.

HYDRA is first choice

“We installed HYDRA, which could not only control the lighting, but also report on the lighting levels being used and any associated cost savings,” explains Russell Downing, Building Controls Engineer at Abtec. “HYDRA advocates open systems and, in this instance, is working with three different networks: IP, KNX and Dali. We needed to ensure that all three systems worked in unison.”

At the Siemens facility, the IP-based network communicates with a two-wire bus system (KNX) for local control, and subsequently with a DALI system. Key to this is the Siemens Gamma N141 DALI/KNX gateway, which enables communication with DALI devices over KNX. A Tridium JACE® 8000 controller and server platform ‘hosts’ the Hydra graphics and facilitates the scheduling of the emergency lighting tests and timeclock functions on the system.

Lux level control

Full control is provided at the new Siemens facility, where lights can be programmed to come on at target lux levels that are defined by the user. Having this system in place means Siemens can capitalise on daylight saving hours whereby lighting comes on at a lower level during the summer months due to the brighter days. In turn, significant savings can be achieved.

“It is important to point out the maintenance capability of HYDRA,” explains Mr Downing. “For example, if a light doesn’t come on, it could be because the lamp needs replacing – HYDRA will tell you what’s wrong. If it’s a ballast failure, then the need to replace and recommission the ballast will be indicated. Ultimately, the client’s engineering team and their representatives now have the capability to maintain the system themselves, quickly, and without calling someone out, thus achieving further savings.”

Emergency lighting was also an important part of the Siemens project. The system that Abtec has installed means that the testing of emergency lighting is performed by a scheduler within HYDRA. The scheduler ensures that maintenance is in-line with the BS5266-1 code of practice.

“Emergency lighting at the facility has a duration test annually and a function test on a monthly basis,” says Mr Downing. “This allows for savings to be made by Siemens as they don’t have to call out an engineer to undertake the tests. By adhering to this code of practice they are also future-proofing against any new legislation that might come into play moving forwards.”

Battery system integration

The warehouse at the Lincoln site features a central battery system based on the use of normal luminaires. Here, the Abtec solution not only includes battery system testing, but full system integration. Final circuit monitoring also forms part of the system functionality. When a circuit failure is detected, not only is an alarm raised, but the illumination levels of the remaining lighting circuits are raised to 100%, thus compensating for the loss of illumination from the failed circuit.

Logic functions are used to switch on central battery-supplied lighting over DALI, which ensures 100% maximum load on the central battery system during test periods. Across the site, the system created by Abtec is able to provide the status of PIR presence detectors over BACnet so they can be utilised by the zonal HVAC control system without any requirement for additional sensors.

Abtec also devised a test solution for the self-contained battery system installed within the office block. Here, the luminaires feature integral batteries.

Minimal disruption

Crucially, the ability of Abtec to pre-program the HYDRA system offsite meant that disruption to the construction process could be minimised. Any late amendment requests were completed during final on-site commissioning.

“Siemens will already be experiencing a highly energy-efficient building, with lower energy bills,” concludes Mr Downing. “What’s more, expenditure on maintenance tasks will be minimal.”

Abtec’s involvement in the new-build project lasted six months. The facility went fully operational in the spring of 2018.