UK retail chain invests in PLC for IoT lighting

Intu is investing in powerline communications which runs data and electricity over standard 120V and 240V lines.
Published: Tue 25 Jul 2017

Intu, a major owner and operator of shopping malls in the UK and Spain, has joined a new £3m Series A investment round in enModus, a smart building technology company based in Wales.

enModus provides nodes and hubs to turn lights into a data communication network over existing electrical connections, in a system it calls Wattwave which aims to transform properties into smart buildings.

Wattwave is claimed to be useful in most environments, including those where ceilings might be too high for effective wireless communication, or where physical structures might impede wireless signals . It also eliminates the need for new cabling that a rival wired technology, Power over Ethernet, requires.

Internet of Things startup investment firm Breed Reply; and Finance Wales, one of the UK's largest SME investment companies, also took part in the round.

Managing electricity consumption

Intu is trialling Wattwave in two small pilots, one at its London head office and another at a storage area at a Watford shopping mall in England. It is possible that the mall operator may use it for its other retail properties.

Intu's properties also include a 1.1m-ft2 retail and leisure complex in Glasgow, called Intu Braehead, that has an indoor ski slope, climbing wall, bowling alley, and cinema, as well as shop and restaurants. Other locations in the UK include Manchester, Norwich, Derby, Newcastle, Essex, Gateshead, Bristol, Cardiff, Milton Keynes, and more. Spanish sites include Madrid, Oviedo, and Zaragoza.

One EnModus customer, Terex Trucks, uses Wattwave to send data to high-bay LED ceiling lights via conventional electricity lines at its manufacturing based in Scotland. Terex is a division of Volvo Construction Equipment. According to the company, the system has improved energy monitoring and combined with new LED lights, electricity consumption has been reduced by more than 90%.

Opportunities in the connected building market

According to enModus, the investment round will enable the company to rapidly grow their customer base across multiple regions.

The company stated: “The Internet of Things is driving new possibilities for control of a wide range of devices from LED lighting to building control and other connected systems. It’s a huge market and we’re now well-placed to take advantage of that.”

Commercial buildings, from large skyscrapers to residential multi-dwelling units, present a major opportunity for emerging technologies and automation.

Smart building researcher Memoori has projected the IoT market for commercial buildings to grow 25%  annually from $22.93bn in 2014 to more than $85bn in 2020.

The commercial Building Internet of Things has matured from being an interesting concept to a “must-have” business resource, according to Memoori.

 

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