This document will be useful if you manufacture heat pumps or similar climatic equipment and want to improve its functionality in order to gain a competitive edge in the market.
The document describes 2Smart Cloud’s experience in hardware upgrades while the platform team shares how the tasks for modifying heat pumps were completed.
A user-friendly interface was created for the remote controlling of equipment, when at the same time tools for remote collection and storage of telemetry, and optimization of technical support was provided. To complete all the tasks, no changes were required in the pump circuitry as it was enough to update the firmware of the microcontroller of the devices. The Customer’s team did the work on their own, having received detailed documentation and developer tools from 2Smart Cloud. By connecting to the platform, the manufacturer received a mobile application for equipment management, the functionality of which has become an additional competitive advantage of the pumps in the market.
Components of the solution:
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The client contacted 2Smart Cloud intending to improve their product. Some key tasks were identified:
At the time of contacting 2Smart Cloud, the customer had a working product on the market. His pumps successfully performed the functions assigned to them, however, the manufacturer and users of the pumps identified some difficulties during operation.
The built-in display is used to program the operating modes of the heat pump. Since such devices are usually installed in the basement, the user had to go down to the technical rooms every time he needed to change the pump’s operating regime.
The manufacturer needed to obtain tools for remote collection of telemetry from the pumps which include: indicators of coolant temperature sensors, system pressure, valve position, and other parameters. This will allow monitoring the operation of the equipment in different conditions and under different user scenarios.
The data obtained in this way will help to improve the energy efficiency of the equipment.
At the time of contacting 2Smart Cloud, telemetry as such could only be obtained by physically connecting to the heat pump controller.
Functional telemetry acquisition will also allow for optimizing the maintenance. In case of a problem, remote diagnosis and study of historical data from the pump will help determine the cause of malfunction before arriving at the site.
To solve many issues, it is enough to change the device settings. This requires additional functionality like the ability for the user to provide remote access to the heat pump control for the service department. In some cases, this will allow optimizing time and finances at the stage of providing technical support.
2Smart Cloud supports most modern microcontrollers. Just create new firmware or modify the existing version to ensure compatibility. This can be done by using the SDK and platform documentation. If necessary, 2Smart Cloud specialists advise on updating the firmware or performing this work for the client.
When discussing technical details with the customer, it became clear that the heat pumps are equipped with an ESP32 microcontroller. This simplifies the task, since such a microcontroller is equipped with a Wi-Fi module for connecting to the Internet, and access to the network is one of the prerequisites for implementing improvements.
If your equipment does not support network functions, to connect to the platform, you will need to refine the circuitry. For example, integrate a Wi-Fi or GSM module.
An obvious solution to the tasks set by the customer for the remote control of heat pumps was the option of using a mobile application. This is a modern, common and accessible way.
The main advantages of a mobile application are versatility and simplicity. Most people own and know how to use mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.)
The disadvantage of the above-mentioned solution is the cost. The creation of a mobile application requires financial and time investments. The manufacturer also needs cloud infrastructure to connect and manage devices.
With their expertise in creating connected devices and applications for them, the platform team has developed a tool that allows device manufacturers to save multiples on mobile application development.
An already-made mobile application for managing connected devices, 2Smart Cloud, is available for platform vendors’. The application interface is configured using pre-prepared blocks (widgets). Different widgets work with certain types of sensors. During the stage of creating an application, it will suffice to select the appropriate widgets and place them in the desired order using the drag-and-drop constructor. You can also use tabs to sort widgets on separate screens of the application.
Additional advantages of the 2Smart Cloud mobile application:
The listed functionality is available “out of the box”, while it provides additional competitive advantages to the product.
The customer was offered to use this tool to improve the interface of interaction with the equipment with minimal costs.
Device usage statistics are stored in the vendor’s panel. By connecting heat pumps to the platform, the manufacturer automatically gains access to this data, as well as the tools to analyze it.
Available out-of-the-box functionality of the 2Smart Cloud mobile application includes the ability to share access to device management with other users. Access can be temporary which means the user can adjust the time during which another person can control their device.
This trait can be used during the support phase when the heat pump manufacturer needs the ability to remotely intervene in device management.
The user of the equipment can also share access with relatives or colleagues, in which case other users will be able to control the pump operating modes from their mobile devices.
A simple yet cheap solution to all the tasks set by the customer was to connect heat pumps to 2Smart Cloud. The basic functionality of the platform contains the tools required to connect equipment, remotely receive telemetry data, and bind devices to a mobile application to control their functions.
The firmware has been provided with documentation to connect to the platform and SDK (a set of development tools.) These tools were used by the customer’s team to customize the firmware.
After updating the firmware, the heat pumps are connected to the 2Smart Cloud IoT platform. As a result, the customer has access to all platform tools, including the collection and analysis of telemetry, and can also offer his customers a mobile application for remote control of equipment.
Connecting to the platform solves all the tasks set by the customer:
After connecting to the platform, heat pumps were added to the 2Smart Cloud application market. The device user just needs to install the application, log in and select their pump model in the list to connect it to a smartphone.
By contacting 2Smart Cloud, the customer was able to complete the tasks of modernizing his product with minimal time and financial strain. The platform’s functionality made it possible to improve the interface for interacting with heat pumps, obtain tools for collecting and analytics of equipment telemetry, and provide remote user support.
To solve the problem, minimal modifications were required and were performed by the client himself. Having received the documentation and SDK of the platform, the customer’s team modified the firmware of the microcontrollers of their devices
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