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Building automation with zenon at BMW in Leipzig (Germany)

From the very start of the planning process, BMW decided to use only the most modern building automation technology for optimal operation of their Leipzig technical facilities and buildings, in order to ensure minimum ongoing personnel expenses. The project implementation was entrusted to Cegelec, and COPA-DATA’s zenon® was chosen as the software for building automation.

If the facilities of a company are not operated and managed efficiently, costs will rise and resources will be wasted. To address these issues at their Leipzig plant, BMW decided to pioneer a new system. Already in the design phase, BMW Leipzig aimed at creating an efficient, reliable and secure system with the new building automation technology; a system that would monitor, control and direct the technical facilities.


In cooperation with Cegelec, facility and automation technology specialists based in Frankfurt,

BMW designed an integrated control system for the complete technical and electrical facility equipment. All relevant sub-systems are connected using standardized, open and mostly non-proprietary protocols. The communication between these components takes place over TCP/IP across BMW’s plant network.


Analysis and optimization


The new building automation system displays the operating conditions and technical parameters with clearly structured facility pictures.  In total, across the whole plant, the system processes about 53,000 real data points (sensors, actuators and readings) and 70,000 virtual data points from different information sources (data collection points, PLC control cabinets). The resulting visualization displays operating conditions using more than 1,500 facility pictures.


By deploying COPA-DATA’s zenon software, the project implementation team from Cegelec, ensured BMW now have a clear overview of all cost-sensitive processes relating to their technical facilities and buildings. This allows for professional facility management and plant control. The data collected by the building automation system is based on a newly developed equipment identification system (AEI). This system identifies all the components of the technical and electrical building equipment, even the passive IT components, across different assembly sections.


The logical structure of the AEI supports an efficient alarm management


The process management undertaken by operating personnel makes it possible to run all technical facilities in the Leipzig plant in an efficient, energy-saving and cost-effective way.  The building automation system calculates performance data and other required information that is not directly provided by the field instrumentation. The system saves all parameters in archives and provides reports for individually configurable trends.


The powerful zenon SQL interface stores relevant values in an Oracle database for long-term plant optimization. These values include meter readings and detailed consumption data. Collecting this data makes it possible to optimize the control loops. BMW, for instance, calculates the NET value (Normal Effective Temperature = temperature as perceived by employees) from temperature, humidity and air speed and displays it online.


Kurt Fingerhut, the Cegelec Manager responsible for delivering this project at BMW Leipzig, explains: “BMW has created the foundation for efficient energy and cost management, because all information about all buildings and technical facilities are available for analysis at all times.”


Building automation with zenon makes it possible to change all relevant target values either manually at the workstations or automatically through an interval timer program that is controlled by the zenon Production and Facility Scheduler. This allows for the flexible operation of the ventilation facilities under different operating and load conditions. It also enables facility management staff to control all lighting systems and adjust them to the changing requirements of the production flow. They can do this either manually through the user interface or automatically depending on lighting and time conditions.


Working efficiently with minimal resources


It was very important for BMW to combine flexible workstations with relatively low license costs. The integration of all technical systems administered by Facility Management into a single superior building automation system makes it possible to control the whole plant from a relatively small control room using two redundant zenon workstations.  The operator can watch, control and direct the facility processes from there.


An additional stand-alone server is used as an engineering workstation from where BMW staff can manage the future maintenance and optimization of processes using the system. Apart from the two fixed workstations in the control room, there are only about ten laptops that are used as additional zenon operating stations. On these laptops, Facility Management staff can watch and test technical facilities. Thanks to the system concept and the high availability of the Building Management System, BMW Leipzig decided against fixed on-site operating stations and, by doing so, made considerable savings on both hardware and software.


Secure servers control the facilities


The building automation system model consists of two redundant zenon servers, which are installed in the two computer centers in the Leipzig plant. These two servers form the central element of the building automation system and control all the communications between the underlying information sources at the automation level and the operating stations. Furthermore, these two servers handle data administration, data archiving and the many other functions provided by the control system software. These functions include performance calculations and interval timer programs. With these functions, all the relevant target values and operation modes of the building-specific systems can be adjusted according to the different operating, load and time conditions.

For example, if production is underway in a hall, the temperature is automatically lowered if it is getting too warm in that hall.


The IT department is responsible for server operation and data backup. The two servers for building automation, which are running Windows 2000 Advanced Server, have the same level of availability as the servers used for vehicle production. The plant’s Facility Management team is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the zenon application software.


Alarm management for security


Alarm message handling and fault resolution are other important functions managed by the building automation system. BMW Leipzig decided against the installation of permanently recording alarm printers because of the high availability of the system and the ability to access the data through a mobile computer from anywhere in the plant. Instead, powerful color laser printers deliver all the lists, hardcopies and protocols, in color and in sizes up to A3.


Two separate alarm systems were designed and implemented, in preparation for running the control room with reduced personnel. The most important alarm groups relating to the building-specific facilities can be transferred to the permanently occupied workstations in the factory security offices at the Leipzig plant. Failures within the plant-wide infrastructure (e.g. compressed air, heat and power supply) are also reported via SMS to the Duty Facility Management Provider on stand-by outside the plant. To deliver this functionality, the project team at Cegelec developed an interface for the automatic transmission of alarm data to an SMS server, which was installed to cover the whole plant.


Complete monitoring and control


The new system for building automation was tested thoroughly over several months under the most demanding conditions. The system survived a plant-wide blackout of the power supply without problems. Kurt Fingerhut summarizes “We were able to achieve all the goals that we had set for this project: complete monitoring and control of the facilities with minimal use of personnel and resources.”


Professional building automation creates opportunities for cost reduction and delivers a significant boost to efficiency. BMW was able to realize these cost reductions thanks to the technical capabilities of zenon.


BMW has full control of all facilities:

HVAC facilities (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning), special facilities (energy management, Waste-water management, compressed air) and electric supply (switching equipment, lighting, UPS)

Central monitoring and control allow for the efficient operation of the facility