Even experts never stop learning
This is true in two respects at the Becker Academy: On the one hand, the specialist trade can supplement their knowledge in the area of home automation here during training courses and seminars, while on the other hand, the owner of the building used the opportunity – as a specialist for drives and control units for roller shutters, sun protection systems and doors – to rigorously put its own solutions to the test. The challenge was to intelligently control and network around 70 drives for various different automated functions. In order to meet this challenge, BECKER-Antriebe GmbH consciously chose to place its trust in the KNX bus system. “Especially in the area of complex building automation, this solution simply offers decisive advantages”, according to Maik Wiegelmann, Head of the Becker Academy. “In combination with our SMI drives, we were also able to significantly reduce the normally high amount of wiring.”
SMI: Complex made simple
The principle behind SMI (Standard Motor Interface): It enables the parallel switching of drives and is thus particularly economical. Becker was able to link together up to 8 drives in this way during the construction of its training centre. It will soon even be possible to link together 16 drives – the required actuators have already been developed by the experts from the German State of Hesse and will provide their customers with even more space in control cabinets as a result. The actuator is housed here in a central and easily accessible place for analysis. Instead of wiring up every drive individually, one single five-core cable is sufficient – enabling 8 or 16 drives to be controlled individually or as a group. “The cable serves both for the provision of power and also for the bidirectional exchange of data between the SMI actuator and the SMI drives”, explains Norbert Huttel, Head of Training at the Becker Academy. This means that the position of the drive can be determined live with the help of an integrated encoder on the actuator, which enables the precise communication of movement values to the nearest percent and the receipt of responses in real time. Alongside roller shutters and screens, Becker also efficiently and precisely controls all of the Venetian blinds at the modern training centre. “We rely on our customer Warema when it comes to the drives for the Venetian blinds because we do not currently develop any ourselves. This manufacturer-independent flexibility and the ease with which solutions can be integrated into the system naturally also plays an important role in our planning”, emphasises Wiegelmann.
A powerful solution
The SMI solution from Becker has now demonstrated its capabilities for around two years – e.g. by providing intelligent protection against glare and temperature. A weather station on the roof of the Becker Academy continuously collects weather data for this purpose and sends a corresponding signal to the drives for the relevant Venetian blinds in the event of strong sunlight. The drives then immediately ensure that the slats on the Venetian blinds are precisely aligned. This is done in such a way that the sunlight is no longer blinding yet sufficient daylight can nevertheless reach the seminar rooms – for concentrated learning and a pleasant working atmosphere. Becker also places great importance on creating a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere in the bistro and utilises the strengths of its drives in the process. As explained by Maik Wiegelmann: “We have integrated a shutter control system into the counter area that helps us to arrange the food undisturbed and at the same time fulfils an important aesthetic function. It consists of two SMI-controlled roller shutters that open or close based on the position of the other shutter. In other words: If the counter is being filled from the kitchen, the front shutter that opens into the dining room remains closed. As soon as our team is finished, they close the rear shutter and only then does the front shutter open automatically. This ensures the required peace and quiet – both for our employees and also for our guests. And from a purely aesthetic perspective, it is much more pleasant if you don’t have to look directly into the kitchen.” Another special feature is that as soon as the food has been prepared and the counter opened, an indicator lamp lights up in the training room. This makes it easy to be in the right place at the right time. When it gets dark in Sinn, the headquarters of this traditional company, after a busy day of seminars, all of the roller shutters at the Becker Academy close – this process is naturally also controlled fully automatically via SMI. The drives are also fitted with integrated anti-lifting devices for added security.
Better through experience
1,500 people already made their way to the Becker Academy to participate in seminars in 2017 alone – with a further 400 taking part abroad. “We are very pleased that our modern building and our training programme have been so well received on the market”, emphasises Maik Wiegelmann. “The construction process itself was an important learning experience for us, ultimately we planned and programmed the entire building automation system ourselves. This allows us to communicate even better with our partners on equal terms and helps us to make our solutions even easier in the process.” For example, the new SMI actuator features an integrated Bluetooth interface. In combination with our own specially developed app, it allows the connected drives to be analysed and managed wirelessly. All of the data can be conveniently saved and sent as a PDF log. Maik Wiegelmann, Norbert Huttel and their team – who incidentally are all former Becker trainees and know the company and its solutions inside out – are looking forward to whatever the future may bring and to many other exciting ideas for practical application.