PC-based control for smart cities
Over 200 IPCs power the modernization of the Kaisermühlen Tunnel in Vienna
PC-based control monitors road tunnel
PC-based control drives convergence of energy data acquisition and Big Data
regio it GmbH, Germany
Over 200 IPCs power the modernization of the Kaisermühlen Tunnel in Vienna
regio it GmbH, Germany
More than 50 % of the world’s population currently lives in cities with over a million inhabitants, with forecasts suggesting that this figure is set to rise to 75 % by 2050. But with cities already accounting for three quarters of our global energy consumption, new urban planning concepts are essential for reducing CO2 emissions and ensuring sustainable coexistence in urban areas. This is where the smart city concept comes into play, with its many benefits including an environmentally friendly and stable energy supply, intelligent building automation, new mobility concepts, efficient traffic flows and enhanced public safety.
In this context, technology should not be seen as a driver of urban development, but as a means of making cities sustainable, improving both the quality of life and sense of community of their inhabitants. This requires carefully considered approaches to solutions, ranging from smart mobility concepts that combine public transport with motorized and non-motorized private transport, to the sustainable operation of buildings and even an efficient water and wastewater supply. Digital networking also supports the integration of energy generation and storage systems, which in turn makes a major contribution to grid stability. Another step toward bringing a smart city to life is the digitalization of local administrations, which – based on real data for factors such as air quality, energy and water quality – allows those responsible to maintain an overview and make quick decisions.
Our PC control technology is based on open standards and provides the ideal basis for digitizing buildings, infrastructure projects, water supply and disposal facilities and energy supplies. Continuous data recording and evaluation can generate valuable information to promote the intelligent operation of urban space, which includes factors such as operating buildings efficiently and reliably (by means of concepts such as energy monitoring and predictive maintenance), establishing a reliable energy supply (via smart grid) and optimizing traffic flows.
Your head start with PC-based control:
According to a UN report, emissions from the operation of buildings, together with those from the construction industry, account for 38 % of global energy-related CO2 emissions (2020 Gobal Status Report for Buildings and Construction). If we hope to stand a chance of meeting the agreed climate targets in the future, then it is vital for us to look at how we can drastically reduce this figure. This is precisely why intelligent building automation and digital networking are among the key factors in smart city concepts, with huge potential for reducing energy consumption to be found in office and industrial buildings, hotels, shopping centers, public facilities such as schools, universities and administrative buildings, cultural and sports venues, hospitals and care facilities and even train stations and airports.
As a pioneer of PC-based control technology, we have been a partner to the real estate industry for many years and have amassed vital expertise from hundreds of projects in the field of intelligent automation for buildings and properties. The type of system integrated that we offer with our IT- and PC-based control platform is all part of what brings a sustainable, energy-efficient smart building to life. From HVAC to lighting and facade control, and from room automation and AV/media technology to remote maintenance and cloud connectivity, all building systems are bundled into a single technology platform and run via the PC controller. Data analysis for optimization purposes can be performed both locally in the on-site control system or in the cloud. Edge and cloud concepts can be combined as desired.
By integrating various building controls into our central, PC-based automation platform, it is possible for buildings and neighborhoods to be networked with each other and integrated into sustainable smart city concepts. And since all of the functions are software based, it couldn’t be easier to accommodate future expansions. The scalability and modularity of the Beckhoff control means the I/O system can be expanded as required, and software parts can be reused if the time comes to add a new building function. This flexible expandability is particularly beneficial when it comes to renovating or refurbishing existing buildings and creates the basis for an economical and future-proof solution. Our control also offers extensive connectivity, which facilitates communication with existing structures and devices, in addition to the integration of buildings into future concepts.
We offer the perfect technology to suit every type of building, from powerful Industrial PCs or Embedded PCs as the main building computers through to local room controllers. Our Bus Terminal system for connecting the data points supports all common sensors and actuators, as well as all communication protocols established in the building automation market, such as BACnet or OPC UA. All systems are programmed with TwinCAT automation software in accordance with the international IEC 61131-3 standard.
Mobility plays a crucial role in the economic strength of cities and the quality of life they offer. But in view of ongoing urbanization and climate change, the expansion of transport infrastructure has long since reached its limits. With this in mind, what we need are intelligent concepts for implementing needs-based, sustainable mobility solutions that focus not only on reducing CO2 emissions, but also on the quality of life of city dwellers and road safety.
These solutions include the switch to e-mobility, which encompasses the corresponding infrastructure, autonomous driving, expansion and networking of public and non-motorized transport, intelligent traffic control to avoid congestion, efficient management of parking spaces, new mobility concepts such as car sharing and mobility as a service, and their integration into local public transport. Our control technology is already in use in many of these concepts – for example, when it comes to collecting real-time data to control variable message signs or parking guidance systems. These situations call for fast and precise control systems that can communicate with a whole host of different services. Tunnel automation represents yet another example of intelligent traffic management, from traffic signal control, ventilation and lighting control, and performance monitoring through to the integration of surveillance cameras and sensor technology that provide an optimal view of congestion in real time. The ability to collate all available sensor and camera data via the automation system creates an accurate picture of traffic levels – not only for individual tunnels or road sections, but across the entire city.
Our technology is also used in electric car production, as well as in cross-site monitoring and control of the charging process for electric cars, including the billing system. One of the many available features includes a prioritization system, which is implemented to prevent the power grid from becoming overloaded when all charging stations in a parking garage are in operation at the same time. This would mean an electric car belonging to an employee who only uses it after work has a lower priority than a service vehicle that is in use all day. PC-based control is also ideal here for networking with mobile devices, as well as for collecting and analyzing large amounts of data in the cloud.
Modern goods logistics processes are subject to high demands: Driven largely by online trade, and distribution centers have to be reliable when it comes to guaranteeing the availability of goods with maximum customization and speed. For this reason, the industry has relied on digital networking and automation from a very early stage.
The openness of our PC-based control system makes it ideal for optimizing logistics processes by networking production, intralogistics and retail. We have been active in various areas of logistics for many years now – including as a partner to large supermarket chains and their logistics centers. Standardized interfaces in hardware and software facilitate the smooth integration of control technology into new or existing plant structures and form the basis for efficient and reliable order processing. The high performance of multi-core and many-core processors allows intelligent warehouse management to be operated on a centralized or decentralized basis, in addition to the core machines and plant functions.
City logistics is a collective term for various concepts that relieve the burden on urban infrastructure without compromising on supply quality. The aim is to bundle flows of goods at the recipient’s location in a freight transport hub close to the city. Optimal organization and capacity utilization reduce the number of delivery trips in the urban area, while all-electric vehicles or cargo bikes that transport the goods to the recipients in the city center serve to reduce emissions and relieve the burden on the urban infrastructure further still.
For city logistics to function efficiently, they need all of the companies and processes involved in transport to be networked effectively and the required information to be digitized. Beckhoff automation technology not only ensures that packages find their way to the vehicle and that cold chains are not interrupted, it also has a role to play in ensuring goods take up less transport space by intelligently cutting the packages to an optimum size to save on emissions and resources.
With the volume of waste we produce rising steadily around the world, so too is the importance of sustainable disposal logistics. It’s a concept that encompasses the entire process chain, from the separation of recyclables and route-optimized collection to the sorting and processing or recycling of waste. In essence, the aims are to optimize all processes through digitization and networking, conserve resources, and reduce CO2 emissions.
To look at one example, using sensors to monitor the fill level of public waste containers makes it possible to optimize the routes taken by refuse collection vehicles in real time, as the waste containers are only approached when they are almost full. But smart waste solutions are also increasingly being integrated into building management: from sensor-monitored waste containers to dynamic and automatic control of cleaning processes based on when meeting rooms, lecture halls, or classrooms are actually in use. The data from the individual devices is collected and processed either locally or in the cloud. This is where the ultra-compact C6015 Industrial PC makes for the ideal edge device or data broker, retrieving data from the cloud, for example, and making it available to the individual devices. The TwinCAT Analytics software analysis tool supports the creation of a dashboard, while underground pipe systems for waste collection, compaction, and disposal, as used in numerous pilot projects, also offer high potential for reducing disposal logistics.
Optimizing energy efficiency through future-proof control solutions is one of the key criteria for the sustainable development of urban living environments. Efficient solutions based on intelligent networking are in demand everywhere we look – from the generation of sustainable energy in decentralized wind, photovoltaic, or biogas plants and hydroelectric power stations to intelligent energy storage systems and the control of district heating systems.
Both the decentralized and irregular supply of energy from sustainable sources and bidirectional energy flows require intelligent networking of energy generation and storage systems with consumers in what are known as smart grids. This is the only way to ensure security of supply and use energy efficiently. Feeding in energy information makes it is possible to react quickly to changes in the grid and, what’s more, smart grids also offer the possibility of coordinating generation and demand. In addition to the transmission of information to the consumer, this requires consumption information to be recorded in a timely manner and transmitted promptly to the energy network via a smart metering system. This allows energy consumption to be controlled according to availability, and any energy guzzlers can thus be identified in no time.
As a long-standing automation partner to the wind industry and the photovoltaic sector, we have experience in fast wind farm networking, FLISR, decentralized fault location, localization and supply restoration, voltage and reactive power compensation, and power quality monitoring. Our powerful Industrial PCs, along with the high-speed EtherCAT fieldbus and an extensive I/O signal spectrum, provide the optimal basis for measuring energy and ensuring network stability.
Complex requirements are also posed by the automation of intelligent storage systems, which have to not only compensate for frequency fluctuations when sustainable energy sources are fed into the grid, but also support the grid during production bottlenecks. This requires optimal energy storage management based on continuous acquisition and monitoring of energy data, in addition to rapid communication via telecontrol protocols. To meet these challenges, Beckhoff control technology supports all commercially available communication standards with regard to fieldbus systems and the software integration of all common communication protocols.
A comprehensive range of reliable measurement modules makes it possible to record elements such as the temperature, pressure, and flow rate, to name just a few examples. Condition monitoring and power monitoring are also integrated into the automation platform via corresponding interfaces, forming the basis for predictive maintenance and the evaluation of raw current and voltage data. Secure cloud connectivity and data analysis in the cloud are supported by means of software and hardware tools and the OPC UA communication standard.
Today, planners and engineers in the field of water management are faced with more than just the challenge of ensuring the supply of clean drinking water and reliable wastewater disposal. In view of the growing global population and demographic change – particularly in urban areas – the focus is increasingly on issues such as sustainability and efficiency in the use of water as a resource. This is where existing infrastructures often reach their limits, meaning partially outdated systems have to be retrofitted and new approaches tested. With regard to water management, there is a particular complexity when it comes to adapting to different communication channels, control systems, and devices, as a wide variety of the most diverse devices for solving special problems has generally developed over the years. That’s not forgetting, of course, the necessary adaptations to various software packages, such as local visualization, on-site data loggers, and central control and operation management systems.
This is where PC-based control technology from Beckhoff offers the ideal solution: It is suitable as a universal control platform for both the central control of a wastewater treatment plant and the decentralized control of the various external stations, such as wells, pumping stations, rain overflow basins, water towers, grit chambers, pre-treatment, mechanical and biological treatment, sludge treatment and secondary treatment. By using the latest processors, PC-based control provides a powerful automation platform for the acquisition and processing of all process data. The variety of software and hardware interfaces allows to support all common communication media and standards to the higher process level. Communication over long distances takes place via cloud, analog modem, radio, PC networks, or mobile networks, providing plant operators with a high-availability, high-performance network for transmitting, storing, and processing all data based on standard technologies. The openness of PC-based automation also facilitates adaptation to existing systems, meaning a plant retrofit to improve energy efficiency can be implemented without any problems.
PC-based control technology for water and wastewater management:
The tourism sector is the third largest socio-economic sector in the EU and plays a crucial role in growth and employment. Nevertheless, the sector is facing up to criticism as an environmental offender and is now involved in massively promoting the topics of sustainability and digitalization. Since 2019, the EU Commission has awarded two European cities a year the title of "EU Capital of Smart Tourism". This award is presented to European cities that excel in the areas of sustainable, digital, innovative, and inclusive solutions in tourism.
When it comes to sustainability, aspects that are evaluated include recycling and waste recovery, the environmental certification of hotels and restaurants, greenhouse gas emissions, the accessibility of public transportation, and the availability of facilities such as rental bicycles and electric scooters. Another important criterion to consider is access to tourist services and products through new technologies, such as an app that guides visitors to attractions around the city and provides information about and restaurants. Digital hotel check-in facilities can also store additional information so that the hotel is aware of the guest’s preferences before they arrive and can therefore offer them a more personalized service.
Smartphone-based interaction has become a popular addition to , , and to keep guests informed about on-site attractions. Awareness of sustainability, energy efficiency, and environmental compatibility is increasingly taking hold in these market segments, which are characterized by a high level of energy consumption. This can be seen, for example, in alternative festival concepts that rely on regenerative energy, and even intelligent cabin control on cruise ships.
PC-based control from Beckhoff integrates all building automation functions on one control platform.
PC-based control for building automation in infrastructure
Scalable with high performance: PC-based control for control and drive technology tasks in warehouse and distribution logistics
Intelligent automation of water and wastewater treatment
IoT-enabled solutions for consumption transparency in machines and power distribution systems
More than 85,000 wind turbines worldwide up to a size of 13 MW have already been automated with Beckhoff technology.
Beckhoff control components for AV and media technology
Ultimate guest experience: PC-based control for the entertainment industry