Abtec Building Technologies (Abtec BT) is helping one of the UK’s leading independent schools to save around 42% a year on its annual gas consumption for heating. Importantly, the use of Abtec’s integrated building energy management system, HYDRA, is allowing the school to easily navigate and visualise logged events. Built on the latest vector graphics platform, HYDRA enables staff to zoom in to the information they need, whether on a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
The Stamford Endowed Schools (SES) are three independent schools in Lincolnshire working together to provide a first-class education to pupils aged 3 to 18. Structured as a ‘diamond’, boys and girls are taught together at the co-educational nursery and junior school before splitting to the respective boys and girls senior schools until the age of 16. This allows for a more tailored and personalised education at every level, either as day pupils or as boarders, before coming back together in a joint sixth form. SES turned to Abtec after the company successfully completed a small lighting control project in a newly constructed chemistry laboratory.
“The project went well and we were invited back to discuss some wider issues with the management of the estate facilities,” explains Dave Watkins, director of Abtec BT, which specialises in bringing cost-saving intelligence to buildings. “We were asked to assess the BMS systems currently installed and the mechanical controls within the plant rooms. In addition, we looked at the various field-based sensors around the site to check their functionality and operational effectiveness.”
With origins dating back to 1532, SES has built or absorbed many different buildings from different eras. This has led to the accumulation of an eclectic mix of plant rooms, equipment and control systems, all of which have different passwords and operational protocols.
“As a first step I delivered to the client a demonstration of HYDRA, which has Google Maps as the front page,” says Mr Watkins. “This allows easy navigation of expansive sites such as SES, permitting the user to zoom in on specific buildings and access information instantly, such as live classroom temperatures.”
The HYDRA system, with its supervisor control and data acquisition functions, is a window into the heart of a facility, as well as a proactive tool giving information to managers so they can make informed business decisions. HYDRA supports OPC, ModBus and BACnet, and allows integration with third-party systems. Data aggregation pulls information from many different sources, while historical analysis gives side-by-side trend comparisons.
“When we attended the site to look at the plant rooms across the estate, we noted a mixture of systems ranging in ages and technology, while some buildings appeared to have very little control at all,” says Mr Watkins.
Due to the age and disparity of the existing systems, obvious climate control issues were immediately visible to the Abtec team, with cold classrooms and roasting dormitories all too common.
“We were initially tasked with upgrading the Browne House building, a purpose-built boarding house accommodating boys studying for GCSE and A-level examinations,” explains Mr Watkins. “We set about standardising the kit that was controlling the plant. As climate control would be the biggest driver of savings, we installed a wireless sensor on every window, a wireless thermostatic valve on every radiator and temperature controllers in every corridor – all linked to the boiler controller. Over three floors of dormitories we estimate that SES will save 42% on its annual gas usage thanks to the upgrade.”
Across the SES estate Abtec is now delivering new outstations with standardisation and vender agnostic controls. This strategy requires the use of a standard panel in the six plant rooms with the capacity to accommodate the majority of scenarios. Here, a Tridium BMS outstation with a 34 point I/O controller is deployed. HYDRA operates on the Tridium Niagra4 Framework, and is displayed to users in web HTML5.
Tridium was chosen as it provides the ability to integrate with existing field controls should a protocol driver for the system be available,” explains Mr Watkins. “Moreover, we can normalise data points, such as Mbus, MODBUS, BACnet and KNX. It should also be noted that each controller is IP-based and uses open-based architecture, while remote maintenance is easily achieved.”
For the Stamford Endowed Schools, the total floorplan can be displayed on one page with the ability to scroll in and out as required. In addition, Tridium outstations can be brought online after each plant room has been completed, giving the client an overreaching BMS and a single point of access.
Through Abtec’s expertise in the BMS industry, the company can deliver modern systems tailored to give maximum energy savings through open-based controls. Abtec’s completely impartial approach to the controls means that it offers vendor-agnostic based solutions; in effect approaching each project with a view to giving clients the very best solution for their properties, enabling the largest possible reduction in annual running costs and the shortest possible ROI.
Following the success with Browne House, Abtec is currently undertaking a similar process in the Middle School at Stamford Endowed Schools. In addition, all six plant rooms on site will one-by-one be brought online (on HYDRA).
Abtec Building Technologies (Abtec BT) has recently completed a project to install a connected lighting system at a newly constructed brick factory in the East Midlands. Ibstock Brick, an Ibstock PLC company, has built a new factory capable of producing 100 million bricks a year, helping to address the UK’s housing shortage. With lighting such a fundamental part of any manufacturing facility, the company wanted to install the latest technologies to help save on costs, energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
Ibstock Brick is the UK’s market leader in brick manufacture with 20 factories across the country and a total annual capacity in excess of 750 million bricks. In addition, the firm employs almost 1400 people, with a substantial number in the local Ibstock and Ellistown areas in Leicestershire.
Despite the impressive output figures, the UK as a whole is suffering from a housing shortage that is not helped by a lack of bricks. To address the shortfall, it is estimated that a further 400 million bricks will be required annually; a demand that is currently met by imports from continental Europe.
In response, Ibstock Brick is increasing its output by constructing one of the most modern brick factories in the world. In fact, the company estimates that the new £54 million facility will increase its production capacity by a further 100 million bricks per annum.
All modern factories call for connectivity, and this includes services such as lighting, for which the company was keen to ensure the latest technologies were utilised.
“We were introduced to the project by Siemens as we are a solutions partner for their building technologies division,” explains Dave Watkins, director of Abtec BT, a specialist in bringing cost-saving intelligence to buildings. “After an initial chat with Ibstock, at which we had the opportunity to put forward our ideas, we were asked to tender formally for the project, which we duly won.”
The solution proposed by Abtec BT was based on a number of class-leading technologies, including LED sources, open platform functionality, sustainability and, of course, connectivity. This proposal contrasted notably to the original brief, which was based on fluorescent lighting.
“We had to justify the technology and why Ibstock should go for it,” states Mr Watkins. “However, the advantages of the proposal were pretty apparent and the company soon placed the order.”
Abtec BT’s alternative to traditional lighting and controls facilitated the potential to build an energy-efficient building management system. Significant payback on the proposed solution was demonstrated, along with CO2 savings to match.
In terms of the actual choice of lighting, the nature of the environment within the factory made this task especially challenging. Specialist conditions meant that the system not only had to be energy efficient, but had to be installed to a very specific standard, a factor that called for careful thought in the design of the concept, as well as consideration for future maintenance requirements.
“We proposed DALi light fittings, which were rated to a high IP (ingress protection) with no metal exposed,” explains Mr Watkins. “This is important as a combination of brick dust and moisture in the atmosphere can cause incorrectly specified light fittings to corrode. In addition to their suitability for the operating environment, the use of DALi lighting would also provide the control and feedback needed at the management graphics end of the system.”
In total, Abtec BT calculated the need for 300 light fittings above the 295 x 86m factory floor in order to maintain the necessary lux levels. Contamination from the brickmaking process will of course affect lux levels over time, but the nature of the connected lighting solution proposed by Abtec BT means it is possible to account for this eventuality.
“At installation, new lights can be dimmed to counter the fact that they will probably emit lux levels that are too high,” says Mr Watkins. “However, as time passes and the lights get contaminated from factory production processes, so we can dim up accordingly. Having a high understanding of issues such as these helped us to secure the Ibstock contract.”
The installation undertaken by Abtec of the electrical elements such as the busbar also had to be carefully selected and installed. Due to the challenging height of the building (over 17m), the sensors used and the location required close scrutiny.
Abtec BT’s system has all the elements necessary to provide effective energy management, including presence detection from sensors mounted throughout the factory, automated function and duration testing of emergency lighting, constant daylight control and some scene setting.
“Constant light control means that we monitor natural light levels across the whole factory and adjust the DALi lighting accordingly,” says Mr Watkins. “For instance, if the sun comes out and natural light levels improve we can slowly dim the lights [not noticeable by the naked eye], thus generating savings.”
In total, energy savings of around 50% are anticipated in comparison with a traditional lighting install, along with an annual CO2 reduction of 170,041 kg. When coupled with the automated emergency testing, further savings are expected, leading to an estimated project payback of less than two years.
“The system installed is open in its approach to technology; KNX has been used for the field based sensors, BACnet for integration to heating and ventilation, and MODBUS to bring in the metering data,” explains Mr Watkins.
Importantly, the entire system links to Abtec’s integrated building energy management system, HYDRA, which allows users to easily navigate and visualise logged events. Built on the latest vector graphics platform (HTML5), HYDRA helps users zoom in to the information they need, whether on a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
The HYDRA system, with its supervisor control and data acquisition functions, is a window into the heart of a building, as well as a proactive tool giving information to managers so they can make informed business decisions.
HYDRA supports OPC, ModBus and BACnet, and allows integration with third-party systems. Data aggregation pulls information from many different sources, while historical analysis gives side-by-side trend comparisons.
In the next phase of the project at Ibstock, the Abtec-designed system will link to further services such as heating, cooling and process water, making it an exemplar of intelligent building management.
“When finished, our sister company Abtec Network Systems will continue acting as a bureau moving forward, in effect offering lighting as a service,” concludes Mr Watkins.
The connected lighting project at Ibstock was bestowed with a Highly Commended accolade by the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) at its recent annual awards.