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Case study: IoT lighting system cuts energy costs, improves productivity

Michelle Davidson | July 27, 2016
Using intelligent LED lighting systems from Digital Lumens, manufacturer Atlas Global Solutions reduced energy costs by 75% and increased productivity by 20%

“We went beyond what we estimated the savings were going to be,” Tavares said. “The savings are mostly because of the controls [provided in the LightRules software]—the intelligence behind the lighting—being able to control each light fixture pretty much individually if we want or as a group.”

Transformation of the lighting world 

LED lights have transformed the lighting world, said Kaynam Hedayat, vice president of marketing and product management at Digital Lumens. And the LED lights combined with less-expensive and easy-to-deploy wireless networks allowed Digital Lumens to combine the two technologies to create intelligent lights. 

“The lights are all LED-based, all have small computers inside them with wireless networks,” Hedayat said. “The lights talk to each other, and through these conversations—through this mesh network—you can interact with the lights for various applications. Basically you can control the lights, and you can collect data from the lights based on the sensors that are in the lights.” 

The wireless network at the physical layer is 802.15.4 IEEE, which is ZigBee. Digital Lumens modified it for the scale and resilience required for the applications that run with the light fixtures.

Not only are users better able to control the lights, but now they can devise strategies that enable them to save even more energy, Hedayat said. 

For example, sensors in the light fixtures sense occupancy and can be set to turn on only when a person enters the space. Sensors also detect daylight and can be programmed to adjust the brightness of the lights based on how much daylight is in the space. 

The sensors transmit the data through the mesh wireless network to the LightRules management software, which can run on an enterprise-based server or hosted in the cloud. 

“All of the data comes into our light system, we aggregate it, analyze it and present it to [our customers] in the form of reports, such as energy savings reports and occupancy reports,” Hedayat said.

The software has an open API, so customers can also extract data from the system and import it into building management systems or building automation systems, he said. For example, a customer could use occupancy data in an HVAC system to control temperature. The customer could set controls so that the space isn’t cooled as much during times when people aren’t in it.

How Atlas uses Digital Lumens’ light sensors and software

Controlling lights based on the time of day

The light sensors and software allow Atlas, whose manufacturing facilities operate 24/7, to control individual lights or a group of lights. The company can control the timing and the dimming based on a certain time of day. For Tavares, that means he can turn off or turn down lights depending on employees shifts. 

 

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