Enterprise Internet of Things is getting a lot of hype these days. I sat down with Danny Yu, CEO of DainTree, a company that is actually selling an energy management solution for controlling the energy usage at commercial facilities. Very interesting window into a segment of the industry that is likely to create a couple of very large companies.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with a bit of context for our audience. Tell us about you and the company.
Danny Yu: DainTree is a provider of smart building control and energy management solutions. What we bring to our industry is the simplification of building energy management, which allows for tremendous energy and operational cost reduction and simplification of how enterprises run their business.
Sramana Mitra: Is this commercial?
Danny Yu: Yes. Our customers are businesses and we think of them typically as an enterprise that has a portfolio of buildings that they own and operate that may be geographically distributed. These could be manufacturers with warehouses or technology companies with offices. They could even be banks with retail bank branches. Those are examples of customers we serve. The application that we serve with our technology is addressing cooperation around energy and how they manage their buildings.
Buildings are one of the largest users of energy. We’ve provided a next-generation solution based on wireless technology and advanced software to address those energy and operational elements correctly, both from a very cost-effective perspective and also in terms of a number of capabilities. In essence, we are using networking technology and architecture to drive very tangible energy and operational savings. By doing so, we are actually providing a platform for Internet of Things architecture for that enterprise.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s double-click down on that. Help us visualize the Internet of Things and networking architecture that you implement for one of your customers.
Danny Yu: I’ll pick an example of a large bank that has thousands of bank branches. This bank may have retail operations and offices. What we do is provide a solution that essentially manages and also provides distributed control in the actual building. Clicking down within the building, we have what we call the wireless area controller. It looks like a WiFi access point. It hangs on the wall. That is effectively the distributed control network that exists in the space. Within the space, you have devices that range from sensors to actual devices that use or consume energy. Examples of things that consume energy in a building are your lights, thermostat, and water heaters. Our controller then takes inputs from sensors that may be detecting whether someone is actually in a room. If someone’s in the room, turn on the light and air conditioning. Then we take that data and, through this controller, make a decision as to whether or not to turn on or off an actual electrical load.
By only using energy when you need to as opposed to leaving your lights on 24 hours a day, you’re actually saving quite a bit of energy. That’s the fundamental foundation. There are many applications and services you can layer on top of that. That’s the distributed control architecture within the facility. As you can imagine, we can scale this out across the entire portfolio and then your Head of Operations at headquarters can manage that centrally. Now you can see your entire portfolio of bank branches across the country.
You can roll out centralized policies on how your buildings are performing in terms of energy consumption and what types of control you want to implement to save additional energy. That’s just the foundation. There are many other things that, once you have the system in place, you can then use to improve your energy and operational efficiency.
Sramana Mitra: All this is sensor-driven. That’s where the Internet of Things is happening. When you’re placing sensors in a retail bank or a retail operation, where are the sensors being placed?
Danny Yu: The sensors are placed where you have the most accurate location for the application you are trying to serve.
Sramana Mitra: Is that at the door?
Danny Yu: It can be at the door. You may have one single occupancy sensor that is in the whole space having say 10 desks. That just senses where people are located for turning on and off the lights. You may actually use that same sensor to then, not only control the lights, but to control the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. There are certain locations where you want to place the sensors and you can leverage multiple controls off of a single sensor. That’s where the value of Internet of Things is. When you have sensors that are placed at the right location, you can leverage those for different applications.