ISJ Exclusive Interview: Dr. Marcus Nadenau and Volker Westerheide, Bosch


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Senior security professionals from Bosch discuss how value can be created by intelligently leveraging data in building automation.

Dr. Marcus Nadenau is responsible for the European system integrator business, Energy and Building Solutions, Bosch Building Technologies and Volker Westerheide is Managing Director of Bosch subsidiary, Bosch Building Automation GmbH, formerly known as GFR (Gesellschaft für Regelungstechnik und Energieeinsparung).

In this interview for International Security Journal, Nadenau (MN) and Westerheide (VW) explain how building owners, operators and users benefit from intelligently leveraging data and the role building automation plays in this.

Dr. Nadenau, you have been in charge of the European system integrator business at Bosch since 2019 and you have a very precise idea of what the building of the future will look like. Can you share that with us?

MN: The building of the future will be safe, secure, efficient and low-emission. It will be possible to manage it without too much outlay while offering users more comfort and convenience than today. The basis for this is the intelligent connection of building technology, systems, software and sensors, in order to make them share data from the entire building with each other in real time.

As a system integrator, what services do you offer for that?

MN: We are a full service provider for connected solutions in the fields of building security and safety, building automation and energy efficiency. In addition to our technical expertise for consulting, planning and installation, our experienced team of around 5,000 associates also ensures smooth operations.  

You acquired the automation specialist GFR in 2019 which, since April 1 2022, is now operating fully integrated under the name Bosch Building Automation GmbH. Recently, you also added the Hörburger AG, another company from this sector. What is the significance of these acquisitions?

MN: We have a clear growth path and these strategic acquisitions boost our portfolio. We aim to be first choice in the future when it comes to using technologies and services to make buildings safer, more secure, more comfortable and more efficient.

Bosch Building Automation GmbH and Hörburger AG both have more than 40 years’ worth of experience in setting up complex automation solutions. Above all, I am also delighted that we are working together on a future-orientated topic that many specialists can identify with. They have experience working with the most modern technologies, solutions and services and their actions ensure greater sustainability.

You have already outlined how the building of the future works. What is the essential driver for a complete solution in this area?

MN: Economic considerations are certainly important for owners and operators. However, the issue of climate protection is also becoming increasingly important. At the same time, we must not lose sight of the growing need for security, safety and comfort as well as health and wellbeing in buildings. Meanwhile, the digital transformation is having a massive impact on our customers and our industry.

Bosch Energy and Building Solutions is one of the leading suppliers of connected building solutions – what contribution are you making towards that with Bosch Building Automation GmbH?

VW: Building automation is the key domain for efficient, sustainable building management. Together, we offer our customers integrated overall solutions and new digital services that meet the requirements of the building of the future.

Building technology systems were previously dominated by hardware. This is currently changing. We are moving into a versatile system and sensor environment. This creates new opportunities for optimising building management and simplifying operational processes.

MN: Buildings have to become smarter to emit less CO2. We are focusing strongly on a range of intelligent, connected building solutions. In the future, we will increasingly offer new business models such as digital services that can play a big part in this regard.

The advantage we have is that we understand both worlds extremely well – that of digital transformation and that of key building systems. This allows us to generate new added value for building owners, operators and users while also rising to meet the major challenges of climate change.

How do such digital services boost sustainability?

VW: Building automation already takes care of the efficient management and control of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, in short, HVAC. Now, we are bringing AI and connectivity into play to leverage further savings.

We are currently piloting a digital service that offers analytics, monitoring and concrete efficiency improvements for HVAC installations. Using ontologies enables us to understand semantic correlations and gain new insights, such as whether a room is currently being simultaneously heated and cooled to maintain a constant temperature – which is not very efficient. The next step involves implementing specific recommended actions.

What other challenges can you overcome using digital services?

MN: There are all kinds of different needs. Facility managers want to manage premises more efficiently or simplify maintenance processes, whereas safety and security officers would like to have access to fire alarm systems and view statuses with one click. Visitors to an office complex want to quickly find an available parking spot and the conference room.

To meet these requirements with appropriate services, we involve customers from a range of sectors directly in the development process.

It is easy to plan innovations into new buildings, but what about modernisations?

VW: Building automation is no longer a “nice-to-have” – it is a must-have for optimised building management. An investment of just one or two percent of the total cost of construction provides a huge lever for sustainable, safe, secure and convenient operations. Building automation is a good starting point for intelligent modernisations as well.

MN: Buildings with a high degree of digitalisation will have significant advantages in the future. With our expertise, we are able to turn even existing buildings into cutting-edge smart buildings. We retrofit the existing structures, connect them with IoT solutions, ensure uniform standards and also make sure the raw data is turned into benefits for the customer.

Did these new opportunities also play a role in the Bosch Group achieving climate neutrality worldwide in 2020?

MN: Here, a digital service from us made a major contribution in more than 120 plants and locations. This was specifically developed for the needs of industrial companies: Energy consumption is mapped transparently and analysed all the way to production. Using intelligent algorithms makes it possible to predict energy consumption; one of the benefits of this is avoiding peak loads.

Does Bosch make this knowhow available to customers?

MN: Against the background of its own activities, Bosch founded an independent consulting company, Bosch Climate Solutions GmbH. The experts there pass on their experiences and help companies on their path to climate neutrality.

When it comes to buildings for the government, the public sector and also the commercial field, there is a lot of catching up to do in terms of implementing climate goals. What do you have to offer in that regard?

VW: We are a highly experienced partner when it comes to implementing energy efficiency measures. For example, we have been supporting Paderborn University in Germany with state-of-the-art building technology for over 20 years.

Our goal in this is to boost the sustainability and efficiency of buildings on the entire campus. One example from the commercial sector is “Office One” in Stuttgart, Germany. This is a cutting-edge office building where the building automation we provide ensures maximum energy efficiency, among other things and a high level of comfort.

Dr. Nadenau, what will become increasingly important on the building technology market in the future?

MN: To meet the requirements of customers and projects in the best possible way, it is important for us to be open on many levels – not just on the level of the systems, but also when it comes to new technologies, collaboration with interesting market partners and new business models that digitalisation makes possible.

I am looking forward working with my team to shape this exciting and dynamic market.

This article was originally published in the June edition of ISJ. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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