Innovative technology encourages sweet dreams at children and family centres
The ability to calm children and encourage their actions are traits that parents have been seeking since the beginning of time. Now, at Knox Children and Family Centres in Bayswater and Wantirna, Victoria, they are using technology to influence these behaviours. Using a Clipsal C-Bus Control System from Schneider Electric, the centres have automated lighting schedules to complement the body’s own natural circadian rhythms. This can be used to encourage relaxation or alertness.
This unique application is part of a bigger story. Energy efficiency and ease of use are key to the electrical solution that has been installed at the recently opened childcare and health centres. Large solar arrays and battery storage systems allow each centre to operate off-grid and the latest C-Bus Network Automation Controller uses open communication protocols to share data while delivering accessibility via an easy-to-use interface.
With many components and unique applications, Schneider Electric recommended the services of one of its installation partners, Integrated Electrical Technologies (I.E.T.). Certified through Schneider Electric’s EcoXpert program, I.E.T. was well placed to complete the integrated automation portion of the project. The Director of I.E.T., Ray Mintoff, said they worked with the electrical contractor and the owner of the centres, Knox City Council, to ensure the system met all requirements.
“Workers at the centres can select the lighting rhythm they want at a particular time via the touchscreen,” Mintoff said. “This gives them the flexibility to meet the needs of the children throughout the day. For example, in the morning and at meals times, the C-Bus program can be used to alter the lights to a brighter, whiter temperature, which will keep everyone more alert. Then at times when the group is ready for some quiet time, the system can dull down the lighting to a warmer luminescence.”
This programming has been enabled by the C-Bus Controllers. The open platform and Lua Scripting Interface controls all schedules and interfaces with multiple touchscreens. The classrooms themselves also have C-Bus occupancy sensors installed. If the sensors detect that a room is empty for 10 minutes, then lights are automatically turned off to save energy. Lighting in the offices and toilets is also automated in this way. In addition, classroom lighting can also be dimmed through the C-Bus interface. A C-Bus DALI Gateway forms part of this solution with DALI fittings incorporated throughout the facility. A ‘cleaner’s mode’ can also be activated, so at the end of the day all lights can be turned on at full illumination to allow workers to easily see what they are doing.
Outside of the building, C-Bus schedules have been used to automatically turn on security lighting. The programming automatically turns lights on 15 minutes before sunset to allow safe passage to and from the car-parking areas. At the Wantirna centre, where the employee car park is underground, lights have been programmed to be on 20 minutes before and after the change in shift at the centre. Lighting for the centre’s signage is also programmed to come on before sunset, and to then turn off around 11 pm to save energy.
Completed on time and within budget, the automation solution installed by I.E.T. is reported to be receiving compliments from all those who use it.
“The automation solution was exactly what the project team was looking for,” Project Manager John Williams said. “We are pleased with how the system works, providing not only valuable support to staff, but also by providing necessary information to the community via the interactive monitors throughout the facility.”
Mintoff said the Clipsal C-Bus Control System was chosen for the job because of its proven ability, and the local support from Schneider Electric.
“I have been in the automation industry for 13 years, and I’ve seen a lot of automation products come and go,” Mintoff said. “The Schneider Electric and Clipsal by Schneider Electric products just work. It is a lot easier to run a business if you know that the products you are using are of exceptional quality.”
With seamless integration into Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Building Operations building management system, the C-Bus Automation Controller is an integral part of the overall energy efficiency of the buildings. And with such ease of use, I.E.T. has created a seamless solution, which appears to be child’s play.
For more information, or to find an EcoXpert to talk to about optimising your building, visit www.se.com/au/ecoxpert.
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