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Connecting “passive elements” using the practical example of an industrial door – why it’s worth it


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IoT Use Case Podcast #124 - aaa special, grandcentrix

Fire protection door – now with IoT capabilities! In the 124th episode of the IoT Use Case Podcast, we are live on-site at all about automation in Friedrichshafen 2024. Raphael Heinrich from grandcentrix and Ing. Madeleine Mickeleit discuss a concrete example – the fire protection doors from Jansen Tore. This is not just about the technical integration of these seemingly passive elements into the IoT, but also about the development of new digital services that result from the analysis of the collected data.

Podcast episode summary

In this episode, the advances in IoT integration in the manufacturing industry are discussed using the example of the fire protection and security gates from Jansen Tore. Raphael Heinrich explains the strategic vision and the practical steps that Jansen Tore has taken to make their products smarter and to offer digital services that go beyond the traditional gate. The networking of “passive” industrial doors, which now act as active elements in the IoT ecosystem, leads to improved service, optimized maintenance processes, and creates new opportunities for data analysis and utilization.

Jansen Tore is exemplary of many grandcentrix customers who want to optimize their service processes with the help of IoT technologies while ensuring that their products meet the latest safety standards. The solution developed by grandcentrix, the Modbus Cloud Connect, allows Jansen Tore to effectively network even old and remote doors, thus offering their customers added value that goes far beyond the physical product.

At the end of the discussion, Raphael emphasizes the importance of iterative development processes and achieving visible results early on to win customers for innovative IoT projects.

Podcast interview

I am happy to be here live at all about automation today. A brief introduction to today’s topic. We are doing a live podcast. Raphael, hello to you. I’m pleased that you’re on stage with me today. Who are you and what exactly do you do?


Thank you for having me here and thank you for inviting me. I am more or less responsible for three areas or topics at grandcentrix. One topic is marketing. The other topic is sales enablement. This means enabling our sales partners to position our products accordingly. My main focus is actually on sales engineering. This means that, together with my team, we support the sales department in all technical matters. It’s about presales topics, as well as after-sale topics. That means, we actually only exit a customer’s onboarding process when they have been transitioned into regular operation. In the meantime, there is always a proof of concept, a very classic element. Customers naturally want to test innovative technology when purchasing it. We are overseeing this from my team.

Now we probably have to put things into perspective. Grandcentrix is a subsidiary of Vodafone. However, you don’t just take care of connectivity in the traditional way, but also bring a bit of hardware and software with you. Can you briefly summarize in one sentence what grandcentrix does, what makes you special?


What makes us special is that we pursue an end-to-end approach, i.e. from hardware integration in machines and sensor technology to the application level and beyond, including topics such as data science and AI. We can cover the entire spectrum and we do this in two different ways. That’s not very common. On the one hand, we develop plug & work products that you can plug in to simply connect a machine, for example. On the other hand, we can always offer individual development. This means that if a product is not sufficient or components are missing, we can adapt and customize things via software and hardware engineering so that it really is an end-to-end solution.

We’ll find out a little more about this in a moment. We also want to make the whole thing practical. What are you doing? What do your customers do with your technologies? That’s why we’re mainly talking about use cases today. To put this in context: We have chosen an almost provocative title. It’s about passive elements, about connecting passive elements. What does that mean?


Today we are talking about an industrial door that is not a passive element in the true sense of the word. It has a control system, it has a motor, it moves. So, technically speaking, an industrial door is not a passive element. But we are here at all about automation. It’s about automation technology. in this sense, an industrial door is perhaps not the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to including it in a monitoring system or integrating it into an automation line. But this is also very relevant nowadays, because a broken industrial door can have just as much of an impact on production as a broken machine.

To put this into context, today we have selected the example of fire protection doors from Jansen Tore. The aim is to investigate what companies like Jansen Tore are doing with the IoT, what digital services are emerging, and what added value lies behind them. Before we dive into this project, you do a lot of different projects that are exciting. Can you tell us which projects these are and which use cases you typically implement?


Gladly. We have a wide range of customer use cases. This ranges from the networking of Leica products, to networked elements of building technology and machines, to products in the medical sector such as hospital beds. A wide range. We have focused on things that stand alongside the actual process path and connect them as well as areas from building technology. What is very much in demand at the moment are inquiries about energy management, as energy saving, resource management and ESG reporting with the corresponding data collection are a strong trend that we can address.

Very exciting. Today we are focusing on the specific example of Jansen Tore. Perhaps you can tell us what the vision of Jansen Tore is? They are from Bremen, aren’t they? What does the customer do and what is their vision regarding IoT?


Exactly, Jansen Tore is a classic medium-sized company, family-run in the second generation, with around 350 employees, located to the west of Bremen. They manufacture, let’s say, premium doors not only for the industrial sector but also for retail, for cold storage facilities, as well as in the public sector, such as fire protection technology in the Elbphilharmonie. They build large hangar doors that are many meters wide and high, but are also involved in production processes, for example when it comes to fire protection for conveyor lines, so they also have a very strong industrial focus.

Okay, so you have to imagine that Jansen Tore integrates the doors into a certain process and is interested in using data to offer new services for customers. At the same time, the customer has an upstream and downstream process involving this door. Now it’s always about the business case. The aim is to cut costs or find new monetization channels. Can you explain what the business case is for this project so we understand the business background?


It really starts with the topic of service, service optimization. The shortage of skilled service technicians is one of the most pressing issues. At Jansen itself, there are still almost 100 service technicians and fitters, but it will be more difficult to find well-trained staff willing to travel in the future. As a door manufacturer, you have to think about how you can make service more efficient in the future. How can processes be streamlined? How do you optimize the service routes? When and where is maintenance carried out? Is it possible to remotely maintain doors that are particularly maintenance-intensive or require maintenance? These are the challenges in the service area. On the other hand, it is about collecting data for the further development of the doors, for certifications and, of course, for sharing data with end customers. For a truly digital representation of a factory, elements such as doors are important; they must not be neglected as they can have a significant impact on the process.

We should also talk specifically about the data that is of value to the customer and about the challenges. In order to realize the outlined business case, you have to find out how to extract the data from the devices. In the case of a roller shutter this could be done via the control system or an existing system of the customer. What technological challenges does the customer have to overcome?


As you said, a door has a control system and, as is sometimes the case, there is of course a historically grown range of control systems. There are in-house developments, and in some areas there are also acquisitions. This means that you first have to agree on a transfer language within the control system, I’ll call it the API in the control system. This enables updates to older control systems, allowing communication, but also forward compatibility. There are many parameters in the data itself that are important for a door. It is not the operating hours that are decisive, but the load cycles – i.e. how often a door is opened and closed. Whether a door approaches the end positions cleanly, top and bottom, may indicate a fault. It could mean that maintenance is required earlier than planned. Error codes can trigger an alert. Particularly important are safety light barriers, force gauges, but also the fire protection technology for fire doors, which must be monitored and controlled.

Are there actually any special challenges that originate from the employees, so to speak? So when I think about it, a door like this also has a certain heat effect, perhaps, or certain cycles that have to be ensured. Are there also errors that are caused by employees themselves? What is the challenge there?


In fact, attempts are being made to manipulate door controls in order to bypass them. For large doors that are only allowed to run in dead man’s mode, someone must remain at the switch. Especially in winter, not everyone likes to stand in one place with drafts, especially at a large hangar door, and safety precautions are bypassed. As a result, the certification expires, the door may no longer be used and production comes to a standstill. In the event of damage, the insurance company will not pay in case of doubt or if the fire protection door could not work in the event of a fire. That’s why Jansen Tore also wants to give customers the security of knowing that the doors are being operated properly and that they can prove to insurance companies that all precautions have been taken correctly.

Why did Jansen Tore choose you? There are many providers on the market, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.


We have been working with Jansen Tore for several years now. Originally, we started with a proof of concept for an individual development. The development of a specific radio unit for the door control can quickly reach a six-figure sum, purely in terms of development costs. Then there is the production of specific hardware, which is only worthwhile from a certain number of units. As we have two business units, we were then able to support Jansen Tore with our product, the Modbus Cloud Connect. This is a plug & work solution that they can simply insert into the door control unit, program via a remote connection and thus easily network old doors as well as current and future models. We were able to make Jansen Tore very happy with this offering. In addition, we are not working on the project alone, but in cooperation with the company Device Insight from Munich for the visualization and evaluation of the data. This bundling of our expertise enables us to place an offer for Jansen doors that is quickly implemented and ready for the market.

To summarize, you have set up a monitoring system for these doors, you have done this with grandcentrix, which means that grandcentrix is a chosen software partner. We have talked about the business case, and there is also an interest in using the data. What else can this solution do exactly?


For Jansen Tore, the data is visualized on a corresponding platform called CENTERSIGHT scale from Device Insight. We are responsible for collecting data and all transmission via the mobile network, using narrowband IoT, which enables good building penetration, even in difficult locations such as a fire protection door in the basement.

It’s important to emphasize that Narrowband IoT is a very exciting technology, especially when devices are installed in places that are difficult to access, like basements, or places without connectivity, right?


Exactly, the big advantage is the independence from the customer’s on-site installation situation. It is important for Jansen Tore to have an independent solution. Connecting Ethernet or WiFi would be impractical if a gate is very remote. That’s why we chose Narrowband IoT, as it is easy to penetrate buildings despite the limited data rate. This fulfills the requirements of this use case perfectly. You can’t shovel gigabytes of data over it, but you can easily get into the buildings.

That was indeed the requirement in the use case, which was fantastically solvable with it. Let’s talk about the Modbus Cloud Connect device again very briefly. Now, towards the end, I would like to elaborate a little. You have now said that it works via Narrowband IoT. This means that the data is recorded via this device. How is the data obtained? How are they forwarded? Do you use classic HTTP or MQTT? What are the standards for transferring the data from the PLC or door at the end?


So this Modbus Cloud Connect version, as the name suggests, communicates with Modbus on the side of the device. Within the mobile network, we use Narrowband IoT, LwM2M with our own middleware, and the whole thing runs via UDP. This technology may no longer seem modern, but it is appropriate for this type of transmission. Our middleware combines device configuration and protocol conversion. We convert LwM2M to MQTT and then output the data via a standard interface that can be integrated into all common IoT platforms.

Okay, so in the end, your customer has access to this solution, which they can use to view the data. Does the end customer also have access?


Exactly, Jansen Tore’s end customers are given access to the platform and receive a data view that is reduced to the essentials, showing only the information that is relevant to them. Jansen Tore has a more comprehensive view and handles issues such as proactive maintenance and anomaly detection. This information is not sent directly to the end customer, but they receive a portal on which test certificates, alarms and error messages can be viewed.

Everything that is part of the business case is mapped there?



A really cool application. I know you have a lot more apps and, above all, use cases behind them that can be solved. So for the listeners in the podcast, I’ll link your contact in the show notes. You are welcome to contact us to go into more depth with you. Finally, do you have any interesting experiences from this or other projects that you would like to share?


So a best practice here is quite clear: if you can use standard components and reach your goal quickly with them, then that’s a big advantage. In proof of concepts, we usually manage to network a machine up to the end application in under an hour if both sides have done their homework. That’s a big advantage if you can show a result quickly without having to spend ages on requirements management and individual development. You simply reach your goal much, much faster. We always encourage customers to approach these topics iteratively. If you try to come up with a holistic concept beforehand, I don’t think it’s possible, because with data it’s just like eating, you get hungry when you eat.

You often start with a small project and then realize that new opportunities arise. It is developed iteratively and in collaboration with experts who know the data and processes and have in-depth expertise in their field. You bring everything with you, from hardware to software to connectivity, to integrate everything end-to-end. A really exciting project. I would say that was a good insight into this use case.

I would now like to officially end the podcast. Thank you for your time today and for the insights. It is not a matter of course to talk so openly about customer projects, as a lot of information is confidential. But it is extremely important to talk about the practice, to see what other companies are doing and to learn from their experiences. Thank you very much for the interesting projects. Before we end, I would like to give you the last word.


Yes, thank you from my side as well. It was a pleasure to be here. I’m really looking forward to Jansen Tore officially launching the product later this year. I am looking forward to the feedback from end customers. Thank you very much, it was a pleasure.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Questions? Contact Madeleine Mickeleit

Ing. Madeleine Mickeleit

Host & General Manager
IoT Use Case Podcast