Nestlé Tests Desk-Sharing and Office Space Utilization in IoT Infrastructure Pilot Project

Nestlé in the Swiss town of Vevey contracted Zumtobel Group Services (ZGS) for a pilot project that made the lighting infrastructure responsible for much more than just light. ZGS equipped the luminaires with sensors that monitor the way the office is being used and measure the air quality and other environmental factors such as ambient temperature. ZGS insists that these metrics can be used to enhance the working environment and optimize space utilization.

A three-month test period beginning in February 2018, revealed that the ZGS solution can lower operating costs by up to 20 percent. According to ZGS, these savings were the combined result of light usage monitoring and optimization, air conditioning and ventilation optimization, and space usage optimization related to a desk-sharing scheme that the company wanted to test.

So, overall, ZGS contends that its system using an IoT infrastructure using lighting as a backbone and connecting to numerous sensors could improve the work environment, improve the air quality, and reduce operating costs.

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Pilot Project Demonstrated Savings Potential

For the pilot project, ZGS installed 15 customized free-standing luminaires in a test area with 30 workstations, where each fitting illuminates a double workstation. Sensors integrated into the lighting collect anonymous occupancy data and general information about the environment. This data can be checked and interpreted via a web-based dashboard. Over the three-month trial period, ZGS carried out additional in-depth analysis of the information collected and supported the customer with expert advice.

“The pilot project offered us not just the chance to test the practicality and implementation of the desk-sharing concept, but also to show our customer the potential for optimization,” explained Georg Terlecki-Zaniewicz, project manager IoT from ZGS. “The results show savings of up to 20 percent in terms of energy and overhead costs. At the same time, office carriers can provide a pleasant and more productive working environment for their employees.”

The free-standing luminaires allow the sensors to be located close to the users, where they can directly track environmental factors such as air quality, temperature, and ambient noise level. Each luminaire also integrates a wireless module. So the luminaires can transmit the information without separate cables.

Nestle office, area for shared desk pilot project

ZGS provided lighting and IoT Infrastructure at Nestlé office. Photo shows area for shared desk pilot project.  © Adrien Barakat

Dashboard App Gives Quick Access to Collected Air Quality Data

ZGS used the Intelligent automatization of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning based on data gleaned from sensors that are programmed to monitor air temperature, humidity and air pressure, as well as carbon dioxide and VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) values. The company contends that the dashboard app offers quick access to the collected air-quality data.

ZGS also carried out a detailed analysis to give facility managers valuable data and insights. These findings can then be used to automate and optimize the operation of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems when required. This optimization lowers energy costs.

For example, when no one is in the office, that space doesn’t need to be ventilated. ZGS insists that while employees are there, such automatic control optimizes air quality for a better and more productive working environment.

The company noted that especially in winter, the air is likely to dry out faster with fewer people in the room. So, the HVAC system takes the occupancy level into account to regulate temperature and maintain the relative humidity at a good level.

“The purpose of the pilot project is to demonstrate the reliability of the environmental data collected and to further improve its accuracy,” Tariq Hussain, head of strategic partnerships at the Zumtobel Group said. “This will allow us to achieve better needs-based automatization and air control.”

Additional sound pressure sensors in the luminaires can also gauge the noise level and identify particularly noisy areas.

Understanding Office Space Usage Patterns in Nestlé Pilot Project

In addition to controlling the HVAC system, the Nestlé pilot project provides extensive insights into how space is utilized and can suggest ways of using the space more efficiently. For example, the space usage monitoring system could find that a specific area could be used more efficiently to accommodate extra users or, in extreme cases they could conclude that entire offices could be rented out, cutting operating costs, and generating additional income.

ZGS identifies, monitors, and analyzes the key performance indicators (KPIs) such as the number of workstations being used at particular times and on particular days. Other questions that the system attempts to answer include, How often is full utilization really achieved?

ZGS pilot project at Nestle office. Photo shows Dashboard app revealing workstation usage.

ZGS lighting and IoT pilot project at Nestlé office. Photo shows Dashboard app revealing workstation usage. © Adrien Barakat

Based on the information provided by ZGS, letting the client company recognize patterns and peak times and enabling the client company to compensate for these peak times much more effectively. Additionally, space and operating costs can be optimized.
ZGS says that with the analysis it provides, employees can even find colleagues and locate vacant workspaces meeting rooms in their vicinity using a dedicated app that is linked to the dashboard.