Intelligent Minibar Concept for Hotels
Dometic wanted to upgrade the existing communication solution between minibars and hotel reception, where the minibars were connected via RS-485 to the hotel Ethernet backbone. The solution did not function optimally but resulted in erroneous data collection from the applied sensor technology, extensive installation and maintenance costs, and a greater risk of fire at the cable-bridge between hotel rooms.
For Dometic Develco has developed hardware and embedded software which can be integrated with the existing topology based on RS-485 and Ethernet. For the data collection from the minibars Develco has developed a flexible 3-in-one solution. All minibars are installed with an identical main board, on which one of 3 different printed circuit boards PCBs can be mounted in order to configure the minibars to use one of 3 different communication technologies: the existing topology based on RS-485, a pure Ethernet-based network all the way to the minibar, or a wireless mesh-network based on ZigBee.
The embedded software of the sensors in the minibars has been improved so that the minibars can transmit data between each other and finally to a gateway via a closed mesh network based on the wireless communication protocol ZigBee. The gateway transmits the consumption data on to the reception where data are ready for check-out of the hotel guests. At the time for refilling of the refrigerator the service employee at the hotels can open and close the minibar with a small minibar security key fob.
Develco has developed the customized Ethernet-to-ZigBee-gateway, the remote control, and the upgrading of the intelligent minibar concept and been responsible for production and product maintenance.