Building technology product development

Smart home control center

Smart home control center (Mechanical Engineering by M.TEC)

Design-oriented high-end product, durable mechanics – development aspects: noble, inexpensive to produce, durable, theft-proof, heat-resistant, robust

Materials, technical requirements, expectations of market players, design demands - M.TEC makes this complexity manageable for you and your product ideas. As a broad-based engineering service provider, M.TEC offers you the interdisciplinary know-how for successful plastics product developments in building services engineering. 

Our engineering in the complex market of building technology comprises:

 

Trends and market developments

Design

With the spread of smartphones and tablets, the demand for design has increased: High-quality housing design and materials with a noble look and feel are a selling point. Brilliant, high-resolution displays have become established for operation via touch screens.

Smart Home

Building technology can respond to living habits and user needs, e.g. by means of time-shifted and spatially independent control. Environmental conditions such as fluctuating energy production or changing solar radiation during the day are also of interest. Smart Home products adapt to such conditions.

Connectivity / IoT (Internet of Things)

The connection to the Internet enables data exchange for all conceivable purposes: remote monitoring and control of building automation and building management. Furthermore, devices can exchange data among themselves and communicate with Internet-based service providers and portals (monitoring systems, emergency call systems, "intelligent refrigerator" etc.).

Miniaturization

The general trend towards miniaturization of electronics extends the installation possibilities, is an accepted design trend and is also expected by the market participants and above all the end users in building services engineering.

 

Design and function

Building technology as a lifestyle product

In customer perception, modern building technology that accompanies everyday life has become a lifestyle product. The demands on the design are high. Control via apps or control units takes place on the move as well as in the living room on the couch. There is a desire to upgrade building technology, the technology should "be there for people and look chic".

Design as purchase decision driver

Design appeals to emotions and arouses desires. A single product can become a status symbol. In short: Good design increases the value of a product in the customer's perception. This is an important factor especially in the rapidly developing intelligent building services engineering.

Product upgrading: design as functional extension

An example of successful product upgrading are wall switch systems and sockets with built-in LED orientation light as a functional extension (path lighting). This is made possible by the miniaturization and further development of lighting technology.

 

Usability

Ease of use as a purchase argument

A well thought-out user guidance - high usability - is important: It is pleasant to get acquainted with a device quickly and without a user manual. It increases the acceptance of a product. This applies equally for building services engineering: "Ease of use" means "Joy of use".

Physical restrictions of users

People with physical limitations need reliable feedback from the device based on their input. A multitude of possible deficits in human perception (haptic, optical, acoustic) must be taken into account.

Operability in dangerous situations

Emergency call systems are operated under stress. Therefore, a clear structure of design and operating elements is crucial for the fulfilment of their function.

 

Target groups, market players

Architect, planner

System capability and flexibility of building services engineering products are essential when planning buildings. More design and color options result in more possibilities for use in large-scale projects.

Wholesale, distributer

Packaging sizes and the handling of the product packaging play a role in smooth distribution: for example, it should be able to fill pallets completely.

Craftsman, installer

Essential for product success in building services engineering is fast assembly with standard tools without the need for explanations or instructions. The installation must run equally smoothly in different building conditions (new building, old building, wall unevenness, wallpaper compensation). A possible fall from a height of one meter or high loads that occur once during installation require robustness in the component design and construction. Assembly aids such as templates can speed up the installation. In the case of more complex systems, the installers are also expected to provide good manufacturer service.

User

Both the private individual at home and the user in commercial or public environments has design requirements, demands mechanical robustness, wants clear and unambiguous operating routines and expects a long service life.

 

Regulations, standards

Official regulations

The standards applicable for approval for a market at the regulatory level often differ regionally, e.g. in Europe, Asia and the USA. Building services engineering sold internationally must take these local differences equally into account.

Manufacturer requirements often more stringent

The manufacturers of building services engineering often set quality standards that exceed official standards. This applies above all to critical points that strongly influence the quality perception of users, such as wallpaper yellowing due to heat input.

Association seal/test seal: VDE, KEMA (DEKRA), CE marking

Well-known test seals from associations such as VDE, KEMA and also the CE marking are a natural sales argument. According to this, meeting the corresponding requirements in product development is important from the very beginning.

 

Risk management

Different target groups and needs

The many market players have different requirements and expectations, which can sometimes be contradictory. Depending on the orientation of the product, they must be weighted correctly.

High testing requirements

In the worst case, failure to pass official tests may result in a possible delivery stop. Such problems are eliminated by a fast, targeted problem analysis and solution.

High environmental requirements / robustness

Both indoors and outdoors, a wide variety of influences affect construction and materials - sometimes over long periods of time. Possible damage or impairment of the product is an essential part of the risk assessment of a product.

Most different installation situations

The aim of product development in building services engineering is to achieve the best possible result for a large number of different installation situations with numerous possible limitations.

 

Design, Technology

Compatibility with existing products

Certain product groups such as rocker switches and covers often require backward compatibility with existing manufacturer systems.

Smooth installation

Fast, simple, unbreakable and with standard tools - this is how the installation should be for the installer. With technically higher-quality products, the tradesman often also expects a good manufacturer's service. The installation routines of successful products are generally very suitable for everyday use.

Long service life

The end user expects the same performance as in consumer electronics (smartphones, tablets, etc.), but with a much longer service life. A solid design takes this into account.

Energy consumption management

Due to permanent operational readiness, building services equipment consumes energy even in standby mode. This influences many things: operating costs, heat loss, service life, possible acoustic emissions from fans, etc.

Environmental requirements / robustness

In the interior, surface cleaning acts on the materials over long periods of time. Long-term loads also occur in outdoor areas: From weathering (high temperature changes, sun/UV radiation, salt from winter services) to cleaning (chemical exposure to cleaning agents, mechanical exposure e.g. from high-pressure cleaners) and possible vandalism.

Connection / Interfaces

The possibility of networking via numerous interfaces is an important purchase argument or "installation argument" given the long service life in building technology, which requires a well thought-out electronic design.

Electrics / Electronics

Bad electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) can negatively influence the functionality of your own device or other devices as a source of interference. Electrostatic discharge (ESD) can have a damaging effect. Appropriate fuses (shields) of the electronics serve as protection against such influences.

Installation space restrictions

Restrictions of the available installation space often occur due to old flush-mounted boxes/cavity wall boxes. Deviating sizes of standard systems in different countries are just as common.

Mounting condition "uneven wall“

The "uneven wall" or wallpaper compensation is an important factor in building services engineering. Due to a wide variety of installation situations or mounting conditions, restrictions often occur here that the product itself must compensate for.

Heat input into the wall

The proverbial "PC in the wall" also brings with it increasing power dissipation due to increasingly powerful power supplies. For this reason, device temperature control during heat transfer must take many issues into account: safety-relevant aspects such as overheating (fire hazard) as well as aspects of perceived product quality: yellowing of wallpaper, noise generation by fans, possible reduction in service life as a result of poor heat dissipation, etc.

 

Sample products in building services engineering

  • Door communication, door intercom, intercom system, door stations (home side, building side)
  • Switches, switch systems, switch range with KNX bus system, radio system
  • Wall socket systems, power plug systems with KNX bus system, radio system
  • Rocker switches, frames with high design requirements and special materials (plastics, metal, wood, linoleum, stone)
  • Charging stations/chargers, docking station for smartphone/tablet
  • Radio and loudspeaker boxes
  • Operating devices (KNX bus system)
  • Mobile phone interface
  • Power LAN adapter
  • Fire alarm control panel, fire detector
  • Control unit wall mounted boiler/gas boiler
  • Mailbox systems

References

ebmpapst
Gira
Vaillant
WaltherWerke

Your contact

Andreas Büttgenbach
Andreas Büttgenbach
Team leader product development
+49 2407 9573-7378
+49 2407 9573-25
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