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ABB’s Smart KNX Building Solutions Bring Energy Efficiencies to Hospitals

Well-run hospitals are essential for all cities. Increasingly, they must be more cost-efficient in energy and resource use processes while delivering more effective and ever-improving patient experiences.

ABB has partnered with Australian intelligent building control integrator, mySmart , to deliver world-class building automation solutions for the largest KNX Health Care project in the Southern Hemisphere.

The AU$345 million state-of-the-art, 12-story Calvary Adelaide Hospital offers the South Australian community a comprehensive range of services including orthopaedic, cardiac, neurosurgical and rehabilitation specialties. The hospital, with a floor area of 57,000m² and 5 levels of patient wards. It houses Adelaide’s only 24-hour private emergency department, has capacity for 344 overnight beds with 16 operating theatres, a rehabilitation wing with a hydrotherapy pool, and a mobility garden. It is also home to a custom-designed Hybrid Theatre, combining an operating theatre and radiology suite to diagnose and treat patients faster.

ABB partnered with mySmart to equip Calvary Adelaide Hospital with the latest building automation solution using the ABB i-bus® KNX system for all lighting control and monitoring, based on the worldwide KNX standard. With ABB’s i-bus® KNX solution, this critical healthcare facility features intelligent and integrated building control for easier lighting management and increased flexibility, security, economic efficiency and convenience. 

Featuring more than 1200 KNX devices, Calvary Adelaide Hospital is the largest KNX Health Care project in the Southern Hemisphere. 

“Calvary Adelaide Hospital is a great technical solution for a truly modern facility. We are very proud to have partnered with ABB to provide a real world-class building automation solution, that ultimately will deliver critical support to hospital staff and patients,” said Peter Garrett, Managing Director, mySmart.“mySmart and ABB worked closely with Calvary to demonstrate the advantages for an open protocol solution such as KNX that has flexibility and provides options for easy expansion and alteration,  resulting in safer, smarter and more efficient operations.”

Life-saving matters

Many clinicians and worldwide healthcare providers are turning to smart technology as a positive route to provide innovative, cost-effective ways to help reduce and relieve the pressure on personnel and financial resources in health trusts. This comes at a critical time in healthcare provisioning, when global health care spending is projected to increase at an annual rate of 4.1% in 2017-2021, up from just 1.3% in 2012-2016[1]

The chosen lighting technology and control play a critical role in the cost structure of hospital maintenance given the countless number of lighting points in patient rooms, research facilities, hallways, waiting rooms, laboratories and lobbies – all requiring lighting that best serves their purpose. 

For Calvary Adelaide Hospital, the ABB i-bus® KNX, coupled with DALI (digital addressable lighting interface), gives hospital personnel and maintenance staff full command of the lighting functions. All of these functions can be managed automatically according to a schedule, sunset or sunrise, or presence of people, or by the touch of a button. This level of controllable lighting system is key to energy saving, with the additional benefit of increased comfort and safety.  

“Hospitals always need light, regardless of the time of day or the day of the week. Lighting must be reliable and well-designed to not only guarantee the best conditions for medical and nursing staff, but also provide optimal conditions for the well-being of patients,” said Christian Schiemann, Building Automation Manager, ABB Australia.

Technology leadership in healthcare

The ABB’s i-bus® KNX solution integrates the hospital’s lighting and energy metering to interface with the building management system (BMS) and Nurse Call system. This provides lighting automation and control critical for effective lighting, operational efficiency and safety. This interface enables the lighting and heating/cooling systems to work in unison, so as lighting sensors detect the movement of people and turn lights on, it triggers the heating/cooling system to respond accordingly. 

An important challenge for hospitals is to reduce operational costs without adversely affecting patients. With ABB’s i-bus® KNX, customers can realize energy savings of up to 60% of the electrical energy for lighting and significant cost reductions in managing and maintaining the system due to intelligent monitoring.

Based on scientific studies, it has been shown that KNX can result in energy savings of up to:

  • 10% in time switched (for example automatically turn off lights in the evening)
  • 20% as a result of presence detection (lights turned on only when person detected)
  • 40% in presence and brightness detection (the system detects the level of sunlight to regulate how much lighting is required)
  • 50% in constant brightness control (the system maintains a constant level of light based on the level of natural brightness).

“The key advantage of ABB’s i-bus® KNX solution is the range of features it now successfully integrates and manages. Where KNX might support a simple light dimmer, with ABB’s i-bus® KNX solution, you can set timers and lighting levels, measure the energy being used and perform many other functions. It delivers the full automation concept and is entirely scalable. The depth of ABB’s i-bus® KNX solution – what you can fundamentally do with it – is much deeper than other solutions in the market, delivering more for a customer’s investment dollars,” Christian said.

“Through ABB’s i-bus® KNX solution, another way we have taken KNX further is by providing the integrator with more features and capability to achieve a better result for their client. We have made it possible to easily go beyond the mere integration of functions to a level of sophistication where it is now a matter of what micro actions their client wants each function to take. It isn’t just ‘shutters up or down’, but considerations around timing, pace, the interface with weather station data and so on.”

Making buildings smarter

ABB’s i-bus® KNX allows all devices to communicate with one another via a single bus cable which is installed alongside the normal power lines. This means that all electrical functions are connected with one another via the bus system. For Calvary Adelaide Hospital, specific KNX features selected to ensure easier facility management and operational effectiveness and flexibility include:

  • Automation and remote access: timed and logical functions, system supervision, internet access, remote programming – all enabling the optimal, energy efficient interaction of the subsystems such as lighting control and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), which is almost impossible with conventional technology
  • Automated lighting: light scenes, timed control, automatic occupancy detection, constant light control – by automating these functions, the building reacts on changes of the environment automatically and is not reliant on human intervention
  • Energy management: diverse control and interface solutions to reduce building operating costs and to employ the required energy according to demand – bringing the various systems under the ABB i-bus® KNX solution and using one common user interface or head end software, enables easier maintenance and reduced OPEX. Also offers ability to provide support and make changes remotely.
  • Easy operator uses and visualization: touch panel and computer display ensuring clear representation of the control processes. 

The KNX Protocol has been adopted by Standards Australia as SA/SNZ ISO/IEC TS 14543.3.1-6:2018 Technical Specification providing piece of mind that KNX will be supported for years to come.

[1] Source:

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