Towards Buildings Automation with DABBEL

"In the future buildings will take care of the people and not on the other way around."

21. January 2019 Düsseldorf

Global population count is increasing at an accelerating rate and with it we see more and more cities developing with building and structures taller than anyone ever thought possible. However, this means that a significant amount of energy is needed, with 40% of energy consumption in and 36% of CO2 emissions being linked to the building sector in Europe. Approximately 50% of the energy is ineffectively used and even more is wasted due to incorrect control decisions within building management systems and teams.

But as cities and smarter so do the solutions. Founded in 2018 DABBEL, a Düsseldorf based start-up, is changing the landscape and technologies used in Building Management Systems with the introduction of AI that promises to simplify, improve transparency and efficiencies that allows for smarter self-managed building control systems. We had a chance to talk to its CEO, Abel Samaniego.

Vaiva Seskeviciute / CEO Abel Samaniego

How did you come up with an idea of DABBEL?

At the age of 26 I moved to Poland and later on to Germany to automate high-tech plants for the industry as engineer. I come from the south of Spain, where winters are mild and warm. After moving to countries of snow and rain I thought to myself: here the automation of buildings has to be very important, and the energy efficiency should be very high. The reality, however, was different. The automation technology in buildings was still very old-school.
After finishing my studies in Industrial Engineering, I got myself a job in automation industry and started digging deeper in the subject. This is when the idea of founding my own startup was planted in my head.

What service does DABBEL provide?

DABBEL turns commercial buildings into AI Self-Driving buildings. Most of the buildings are still manually controlled. Tenants are complaining about the ventilation, heating or air conditions. It is an impossible job for a building manager to manage a building of 20 000 or 50 000 square meters, know what is happening in every office and every room and offer optimal conditions and energy efficiency, at any period.

DABBEL can independently make its own decisions through a self-learning, self-adapting and self-configuring system with cognitive artificial intelligence. We focus on office buildings, schools and hospitals up to 250 000 square meters and offer them a possibility to upgrade their management.

How does the process of the upgrade look like?

Imagine a big commercial building in the center of Düsseldorf, such as RWI4. It already has cables, building management system and the communication network that we use as a basis. We then install our intelligent software as a new master of the building and connect it with the sensors. Our system is compatible with the most common communication protocols on commercial buildings, but we also have sensors developed on our own this gives us independency from the third parties.

The 6-in-1 sensors are placed in every room of the building and measure occupancy, temperature, CO2 level, lightning, humidity and VOC. Our solution is composed of sensor, gateway, a dashboard, where building managers can monitor the buildings and a server – the core of the system.

How long does it take to complete this process?

It would take us about two weeks to take care of a building of 20 000 square meters. Important to mention – it would take one third or even less of the investment needed if compared to our competitors.
Are there a lot of companies offering a similar solution in the market?

There are many startups and many companies offering monitoring – installing sensors and preparing a report. But that’s only one piece of the puzzle. The most important part is controlling - sensing a building and taking a decision on your own. I can count real players in the industry on one hand.

What is your main advantage compared to other competitors?

DABBEL system is based on a predictive control. That means, our software models the building, recognizes the context and takes decisions forehead. In each iteration it learns from the people and the thermodynamic of the building itself.

The system considers over 100 variables, such as the floor of the building or the position towards north and south to calculate an informed decision. What is more, the system can learn and improve itself in each decision iteration. Compared to classic BMS systems, we can improve energy efficiency to up to 40% and provide a better working conditions for people in the buildings in a much more cost-effective way and without a manual programming of the system.

Co-Founder & CTO, Javier Ferre

You started in 2016. Where do you stand right now?

We have our first pilot running for the last 7 months. We are still collecting and analyzing results in order to prepare a detailed report in the upcoming months. We are ready to go to the market and have just acquired the first customer. What is more, we have closed the first investment round with :agile accelerator at the end of the last year.
It seems that everything runs smoothly now. Was it like that from the beginning on?

At the beginning I was on my own and it was quite hard to be honest. I barely spoke any German – at my first business meeting I was trying to guess what I have to answer. I was an outsider trying to sell something innovative and disruptive for big corporates. It took time to grow the team, develop the product and business strategy.

You started alone, how big is your team now?

We a currently a team of four: 3 co-founders and 1 employee.

One of your co-founders, Pablo, lives in Spain. How do you find a way to work around it?

I was a bit skeptical at the beginning, but it turned to work out perfectly. Pablo mainly focuses on software development – for him concentration is core. He does travel to Germany from time to time to sit together with the rest of the team and discuss important matters.

DABBEL Team: Abel Samaniego, Javier Ferre, Julia Martin

One of your co-founders lives in Spain. How do you find a way to work around it?

I was a bit skeptical at the beginning, but it turned to work out perfectly. Pablo mainly focuses on software development – for him concentration is core. He does travel to Germany from time to time to sit together with the rest of the team and discuss important matters.

Looking back at the countries you lived in – could you say that it is easier to run a successful business in one than another?

I can’t say that you can be more successful in one country than another. At the end of the day, it all depends on you, on your willingness to learn and the experience you have.

Where do you see the future of buildings automation?

I believe in the future buildings will take care of the people and not the other way around.

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