Data communication is an inseparable part of the energy modules that the fast-growing company Factory Zero supplies to make homes energy-efficient in an easy and affordable way. In Comgate, the innovative scale-up found a like-minded flexible partner who is able to provide the necessary 4G solution for the desired reliable, fast and secure data connections.
Factory Zero focuses on the industrial production of so-called integrated Climate Energy Modules (iCEMs): approximately two-meter high units containing the complete installation to provide both a ground-level home and apartment with heat, hot water and ventilation. They contain a heat pump, balance ventilation and a boiler tank, and can be expanded with solar panels and a cooling facility. They can be used in renovation and new construction to realize very energy-efficient homes with a comfortable and healthy indoor climate and are monitored and improved remotely. Factory Zero now has about 1.500 iCEMs: 30 percent in renovated homes, 70 percent in new buildings.
“Communication is a vital part of the service we provide,” says Factory Zero director Rik Voorn. “We did look at WiFi, but it doesn't meet our standards. There are five computers in our units, all of which must be able to continue to talk to each other. We do this on the basis of Comgate's solution. ” In addition to the homes, data communication must also function properly from the iCEM to Factory Zero and vice versa. The units in the homes generate data, with which Factory Zero can monitor in real time whether all functions are working properly and make adjustments if necessary. Any malfunctions can usually be quickly resolved remotely without the need to send a technician and in most cases without the residents noticing. Preventive maintenance is also done remotely, as well as software updates.
Thanks to the 4G routers and SIM cards from Comgate and its sister company Capestone, Factory Zero always has up-to-date insight into the energy consumption and air quality per home. This information is used, among other things, to advise residents on how to deal more consciously with their energy consumption. Voorn: “It is important that this information exchange takes place securely. After all, it concerns privacy-sensitive information. This reliability is becoming increasingly important given the large amounts of data. ”
A special group of Factory Zero customers are the housing corporations. Just like the residents, they are also given the opportunity to view the consumption per home. Factory Zero must be able to demonstrate that the energy performance of the homes corresponds to the agreements that the corporations have made with their tenants. After all, the corporations charge an energy performance fee (epv) to their tenants for their energy-efficient house. “We have a hard obligation to housing associations to demonstrate that what we have promised to deliver, we can deliver. If the data quality is bad, that is difficult. And that has financial consequences for the corporations ”, says Voorn.
More options with 5G network and Internet of Things
Because Factory Zero is constantly working on further improving the iCEMs, the company made quite a few demands on the communication partner in addition to reliability. "They had to match our DNA." This is certainly the case at Comgate & Capestone, says Voorn. “It is an innovative party that thinks along, is flexible and service-oriented and that thinks along and helps to facilitate our developments. And there is also a personal click, because doing business is also people work. ” Factory Zero has a number of homes that function as a test location for new functionalities. Voorn: "Comgate's solution enables us to do that in phases."
In view of the growth that Factory Zero expects to experience in the coming years in the number of installed units and in further functionality, the amount of data to be sent will also increase significantly. The company is therefore certainly already looking at the possibilities that will come within reach with the rollout of the 5G network as a successor to the 4G network. “Think of the Internet of Things and control per room. That places different demands on our units and on communication, ”says Voorn. Ultimately, everything must be able to talk to everything. We want to unburden residents. The great thing is that Comgate & Capestone is involved in our development roadmap. ”
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