Issue 27

AV Interview: Christian Schiemann, ABB

ABB is a US$32b in annual revenue, multinational technology behemoth with a big interest in building and home automation. We catch up with Australia business manager, Christian Schiemann, about why AV people should care.


22 May 2024

Interview:/ Christopher Holder

Regardless of your political persuasions we can all agree that the electrification of the planet is an inevitability. ABB certainly agrees. ABB makes building and home automation systems that specialise in saving owners and tenants money on their power bills.

When it comes to projections, ABB has naturally done its research. The gist of which goes something like this: ~70% of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2050 [according to the WHO]. Around 40% of CO2 emissions globally come from buildings. Add those two stats together and you have more buildings consuming more power. If we can prioritise the use of building control and management systems we can have far greater impact on carbon emissions… more so than, say, giving up on international travel or going vegetarian.

“Managing electrification is a key element for ABB,” confirms Christian Schiemann, ABB Business Manager Building and Home Automation Solutions. “Currently 80% of buildings are without a proper energy management system or building management system.”

ABB and Amber Technology are keen to make a dent on that particular statistic. Amber is now a distributor of ABB’s i-bus KNX Building and Home Automation system. Amber Technology was chosen to be part of ABB wide family of international distributors thanks to its national reach, warehousing and exposure to AV professionals. While Amber Technology is attracted to the partnership as it continues its push to be a ‘technology’ distributor, not just an AV specialist.

“I also think Amber did its due diligence and it came to the conclusion that when it comes to commercial building automation, KNX is the future,” elaborates Christian Schiemann. “If you have a look at Europe, 75% of building automation platforms are based on the KNX protocol. ABB is a leading player in that market. Amber Technology and ABB have complementary strengths in business development, providing training and more. Amber has a very capable technical support and service team which will work in concert with ABB’s tech support team in Australia and regionally. It’s a formidable combination.”


KNX is the future. If you have a look at Europe, 75% of building automation platforms are based on the KNX protocol


Christian Schiemann: “Building automation can really help save money and the environment by automating the energy consumption. For example, take an office with a large glass facade. At some point in the day, the glazing will cop a lot of glare, making it hard to see computer monitors and raising temperatures. In response, the building automation can close the building shutters when the sun comes round – reducing glare and heat gain, along with air conditioning use. But you may have reduced glare to the point where it’s too gloomy to work in that space. Now, the system will start dimming up the lights to the optimal level, say 300 lux – the automation will compensate to maintain that light level as the sun moves. This is just one small example of how building automation can reduce consumption and improve working conditions.”


Building automation continues to be a larger blip on the commercial AV radar. ABB and Christian Schiemann are certainly interested in getting to know you.

“Building automation needs to be a priority for AV consultants and integrators. Sure, electrical contractors aren’t knocking down the doors of AV people demanding they quote for lighting control, and if you stay in the market purely as an AV integrator, then you never will get that work. But you need to change your business model – AV integration and lighting control. And if you work with ABB we’ll also be on your side helping you win projects.”

Of course, lighting is already part of the commercial AV mix but traditionally it’s not been a KNX proposition – more likely Dynalite and C-Bus.

“Those are closed protocol platforms,” observes Christian Schiemann. “KNX is an open protocol and there are more than 500 manufacturers producing products for KNX, with ABB being at the vanguard with a broad portfolio. The legacy closed protocols aren’t bad systems and aren’t going away overnight but something like the ABB i-bus, which is based on the KNX protocol, is definitely giving you the opportunity to provide a better offering to your customers as an AV installer or integrator.

“The good thing is most of these more specialised installations have a gateway to KNX as an operating system. In other words, KNX can be the front-end operating system connecting to other systems, including DALI lighting control. Having KNX as a backbone to operate DALI gives you many more advantages.”

Amber Technology:


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