Mr. Farook Merchant, Managing Director and Chairman of Messung, is a prominent figure in the world of industrial automation and technology. His dedication to merging technology with well-being has positioned Messung as a leading player in the smart automation and connected lifestyle sector. Over the years Messung has successfully designed, manufactured, and certified their KNX products under the brand name Ourican. In an exclusive Interview with Smart Home World he shares his journey and his company’s contribution to the Smart Automation Industry.
Messung entered the field of Automation in 1981 by designing India’s first Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), the Meprolog-H. Their initial focus was on automating machines, and replacing electro-mechanical relay panels with more flexible and space-efficient PLCs. Over the years, Messung expanded their expertise in industrial automation.
In 2016, they made a strategic decision to venture into Home Automation, opting for a wired solution using the KNX platform. Through extensive research and collaboration with European suppliers, Messung became proficient in designing and manufacturing KNX-based products. Their journey began with the development of a 4-channel ceiling fan controller and a 16-point actuator.
Despite the challenges of working with a decentralized KNX platform, Messung successfully designed, manufactured, and certified their KNX products under the brand name Ourican. With ten more products in the pipeline, they aim to establish themselves as the first Indian company with a certified range of KNX products. Their goal is to provide world-class KNX solutions at competitive prices in India and expand their presence internationally, including the Middle East, by collaborating with system integrators seeking affordable KNX products.
Can you provide our professional readers with an overview of Messung Ourican, highlighting its key areas of expertise and focus in the field of home automation?
Ourican, the Indigenous Smart Home Automation product, is built upon the KNX platform. For those new to this technology, let me provide a brief introduction to the KNX platform.
KNX.org is a Brussels-based forum formed around the year 2000, it was the initiative of more than 40 world-class home automation manufacturers, to help standardize the commonly used elements like programming software, cables, connectors, and most important interoperability.
One of the primary benefits of the KNX platform is its rigorous certification and registration process. When manufacturers successfully navigate this stringent procedure, it opens the door for seamless compatibility and interoperability between any KNX product, regardless of the manufacturer.
For example, if a company has good and beautiful front ends, and another company has very good actuators and sensors, you can use both of the products seamlessly and program all of the varieties with the common ETS programming software which is the sole property of KNX.org.
Presently there are more than 400 manufacturers of KNX-based products and provide a huge variety of solutions to System Integrators and OEMs.
Congratulations on the recent KNX certification for two flagship products. Could you provide in-depth professional insights into these certified products?
We began our journey in manufacturing KNX-based products about two years back and at that time we were distributing the products of some other manufacturers from Europe. We noticed that no one in the KNX field had the Ceiling fan controller in their portfolio. So, we began the process of making this product. We also noted that the 16-point actuator is the most commonly used hardware in the back end of any KNX installation.
Our design team then started this process and in two years we fine-tuned both the products and got them certified and registered.
We have many more products in the final stage of design and development and shortly all of them will go for certification. They include the KNX power supply, input modules, phase-cut dimmers, analog dimmers, a very innovative front-end User interface device with six keys and a colour display providing 32 functions. (its a proper room controller).
We have in the pipeline a very comprehensive IR four-channel interface to connect to Air-conditioners, and TV and music systems and overhead projectors to substitute the conventional IR remote.
Next in line is a full-fledged KNX to IP interface with a Server functionality to provide customers with a Messung mobile App but also be able to connect to Apple Home Kit, Google Home Kit and Alexa.
What stringent quality standards and manufacturing processes does Messung Ourican adhere to when designing and producing its KNX products, ensuring reliability and performance?
The important elements that we focused on while working on the quality aspects in the manufacturing was to set up our own in-house manufacturing line including SMT machines, optical inspection machines, reflow oven, dry heat chamber, wave soldering machine and automatic test jigs. Next in line was to implement strict ISO-9000 standard operating practices. We also implemented a complete lead free soldering environment and achieved ROHS certification.
All our products are certified for CE as per the EN standards by the TUV laboratories, including undergoing the mandatory ESD test, Anechoic chamber test for EMI radiation and brown out tests.
This helps certify the products made by us will be able to withstand the harsh electrical and environmental conditions, all as per the EN Standards.
Since the conducted EMI/EMC noise is the most critical element in the EN standard testing methodology, we have procured our own in-house EMI-EMC conducted and capacitive coupled testing system, this enables us to test this most critical element in noise immunity at the design stage itself. We also have mandated that during production all products will go through this conducted noise test by sampling method (10 products out of 100 are tested on this test setup).
All products after completion are put through the in-house environment chamber. Here all products are kept at an elevated temperature of 50 deg.C, for 12 to 24 hours. This eliminates what is known as infant mortality rates.
We’d like to learn more about the 16-channel multi-function actuator, MES-DO-16R, and the 4-channel ceiling fan controller, MES CFC-4PRO. Can you provide detailed professional information about these products, their features, and applications?
The 16-channel multi-function actuator is designed to provide a lot of universality to the customer. All relays have 16 amps contact rating which enables them to put on LED lamps which can generate a surge of more than 80 amps. All relays are bi-stable means that the relay changes its state by a 5 msec pulse given to the coils enabling the relay coil to be cool even if the operation is on for several hours or days.
We have implemented a large number of functions like On/Off, scenes, Curtain controls, and so on which are normally required by all the system integrators.
The four-channel ceiling fan controller is to control the speed of a standard Ceiling fan (not BLDC fans). The critical issue here was to control the AC voltage to the ceiling fans without chopping the AC wave as that would result in harmonics and humming sound in the fans which is not acceptable to customers.
In our ceiling fan controllers, we are using high-quality AC capacitors and 16 amp bistable relays to increase performance characteristics and very high quality.
As an expert in the field, could you share your insights into the latest trends in the high-end smart home automation segment?
It’s very difficult to pin down what is the latest trend in Home Automation. For sure now customers are well aware that they need very reliable and ergonomically good quality products. And in this case, the KNX technology offers customers a robust solution and the customers are more than willing to pay the extra money to get a reliable product and have the luxury to not depend on ‘one’ single brand.
Customers are now able to distinguish between highly visible and gimmick-based wireless quick-fix solutions and standard and stable wired products like KNX.
Customers who got confused by the low-cost wireless products from ‘fly by night’ Chinese suppliers with zero warranty support are now more than willing to wait and buy products from reliable suppliers with proven track records and here the certification and registration regime of KNX gives a good validation for customers to standardize on.
With Google Home Kit and Apple Home Kit and Alexa providing standard and well-designed user interfaces, customers have now more options to interface third-party products and solutions like Phillips Hue and Sonos and similar solutions.
Messung is now working on a ‘Server’ based IP/KNX interface with MQTT protocols to connect to the cloud, to give all the solutions mentioned above including their own Mobile App interface.
For architects and designers specialising in smart home automation, what key investments should they consider to enhance clients’ lifestyles, security, and energy efficiency? Are there specific solutions that Messung Ourican offers in this regard?
Let’s break down your question into different parts:
‘Enhanced clients’ lifestyles’: Good quality User interfaces and well-designed keyboards and touch interface units, definitely add a look of sophistication to a client’s new apartment or home. And if the System Integrator helps choose the right products with well-thought-out aesthetics and usability of the front ends then the client will get more than enough to be able to use the home automation solution to its best potential.
A luxurious home unit designed well with proper control of Scenes and proper use of lights and curtains can give the client a very good feel of comfort and calmness and be able to go from one use of space to another by the touch of just a button.
Energy efficiency: If the System integrator uses the KNX system efficiently and utilizes the functionality given in the various hardware properly then definitely the customer can get a very efficient system. With proper use of sensors and motion control, the customer uses his electricity to its optimum usage and still does not sacrifice his comfort and luxury. A well-designed Air-conditioner maintaining the desired temperature at its appropriate and desired levels is always appreciated by clients. If the lights come on and go off when the clients is not using the various spaces definitely allows most efficient usage of energy.
KNX systems are best designed to enable a System integrator to give the customer the best possible solution, whether it’s dimming, or RGB or Air-con or curtains, the SI has now the solution with the KNX to provide all the features that a demanding client needs.
Messung’s ability to significantly reduce cost factors in the development and distribution of KNX products. Could you elaborate on the strategies and methods employed to achieve these cost reductions?
KNX products were never produced in India and all the System integrators would import them paying heavy customs duty and other taxes and costs, plus the ever-increasing foreign exchange rates. With KNX products being manufactured in India by Messung, customers now have the same technology in India that they were hitherto importing and with the quality and interoperability approved by the KNX certification and registration methods.
The products being made in India can now provide quick deliveries and a very strong RMA support. Customers who always wanted to know why their products failed can visit the Messung factory in India and quickly get their doubts sorted out. Plus now with an indigenous development team continuously improving the KNX products, Customers can now look for customized solutions to their specific requirements.
We are confident that KNX technology and the solutions for lighting and Air conditioning can give equally good solutions in Buildings and in the Industrial domains. With Messung’s strong domain expertise in the manufacturing sector we are sure that a lot of possibilities are opening up as the manufacturing sector modernizes their offices and their shop floors.
In your view, what are the primary challenges facing the KNX automation market, and how do you foresee its future growth and evolution?
The first impression that anyone gets, when they hear KNX is that it will be an expensive platform; and this is the first challenge.
Customers feel that if a fast-low-cost wireless solution can do the job, then why go for a wired and more expensive solution of KNX?
But once the System Integrator and customer see the long-term viability of KNX and the idea that all products being used are validated by a third party and that this is very reassuring to the customers, then slowly but surely KNX becomes the first option.
As more domains like the hospitality sector and the manufacturing sector get into modernization; the acceptance of the systematic way of implementing automation solutions for lighting curtains and aircon will get highlighted and more and more system integrators will get themselves attracted to this platform.
The fact that a KNX platform can integrate easily with third-party solutions gives a positive feeling to the System integrator to be sure that as he goes about adding more and more solutions to the customer’s premises he is never going to be stuck. He is sure that in the KNX platform, he will surely get a solution for integration or for supervision.
Click here to read full November issue : https://www.smarthomeworld.in/magazine-october2023/