Interacting with the makers of Wattman- an IoT based Building Management System that optimizes energy consumption by 30%

Co-founders, Rahul Bhalla, Dr. Amarjeet Singh and Vishal Bansal, Zenatix (L-R)

This Haryana based, data-driven energy efficiency company is using advanced machine learning based models to save 10-30% of electricity for large commercial consumers. These models are built by collecting and analyzing millions of previously unseen (“dark”) data points every day from electrical assets

Zenatix launched their 1st product, WattMan, in April 2016, which is an IoT based Building Management System (BMS) tailor-made for large retail chains and banking/ financial set ups. It is built over a scalable Internet of Things (IoT) stack that includes robust connected hardware developed in-house by Zenatix through extensive research and development.

Co-founded by Rahul Bhalla, Vishal Bansal and Dr. Amarjeet Singh, Zenatix is currently operating in Indian market with a focus of expanding into the South East Asia market.

IoT India Magazine caught up with Vishal Bansal, Co-founder and COO, Zenatix, where he is responsible for leading and managing the product and operations at Zenatix. Prior to Zenatix, he has been associated with ING Insurance Asia, where he managed investment strategy for insurance portfolios globally. An expert in financial analytics, he has developed statistical models for construction and optimization of equity portfolios. A graduate from  IIT-Delhi and alumni of IIM Ahmedabad, Vishal is a sports enthusiast and has an interest in Indian politics.

IoT India Magazine- Zenatix is a leading provider of IoT based energy monitoring and control products. Could you tell us about the products it offers?

Vishal Bansal- People at Zenatix are passionate about sustainability and strongly believe in power of technology and data and wanted to leverage these to make a meaningful contribution towards a sustainable planet.

Energy Efficiency is one critical element for sustainability and a lot of work is being done in this domain. However, the primary focus has been on retrofits (build more energy efficient light bulbs, air conditioners, etc.), but the operational energy efficiency (use of existing infrastructure optimally) has been largely overlooked.

In this respect, Zenatix has developed an innovative product called WattMan. It is an IoT based Building Management System (BMS) tailor-made for retail chains and banking set-ups to help them in reducing their electricity consumption by up to 30%.

IoT India Magazine-  Could you explain in detail how Zenatix is using machine learning based models to deliver 10 to 30% energy efficiency to large commercial consumers of electricity? How is WattMan addressing various challenges?

Vishal Bansal- Given the distributed nature of retail/banking set-ups (100s of thousands of outlets/branches, spread across the country), having a control over the electricity spend and providing the right customer experience at the same time, is a big challenge. Our product, WattMan, addresses these challenges in an automated manner through its cloud-based intelligent controls driven by advanced machine learning algorithms. It employs our proprietary firmware for performing automatic sensing and control. Collected data is used to develop machine learning driven models deciding optimal operational settings based on external factors like weather and footfall, thus allowing sophisticated control.

Besides automated control, we use various machine learning and Artificial Intelligence techniques for anomaly detection and predictive and preventive maintenance of electrical assets.

IoT India Magazine- The company says that “the models are built by collecting and analyzing millions of previously unseen (“dark”) data points every day from electrical assets”. What do you mean by that?

Vishal Bansal- Data has shown that increase in electricity generation over the years has not been able to keep pace with increasing demand. Moreover, more than 70% of generation is from fossil fuels. Further, the extensive research done by our co-founder and CTO, Dr. Amarjeet Singh has shown that commercial buildings typically waste more than 30% of electricity that they use. Therefore, we decided to disrupt the traditional energy efficiency market by focusing on operational energy efficiency and using technology and advanced data analytics to achieve that.

Until we came up with our innovative product, the operational energy data was not available and hence this is previously unseen or dark data. We collect millions of such data points everyday to derive useful insights from the data that can eventually help our clients in better control and therefore less wastage of electricity.

IoT India Magazine- What are the major industries that Zenatix caters to? Would you like to exemplify with few use cases how Zenatix’s solutions are being used in these industries?

Vishal Bansal- WattMan is an innovative IoT based Building Management System (BMS) for retail chains and banking set-ups. Given the distributed nature of retail/banking set-ups (100s of thousands of outlets/branches, spread across the country), having a control over the electricity spend and providing the right customer experience at the same time is a big challenge. For example, in a Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) or a supermarket, maintaining the right temperature in customer areas, kitchen areas and cold storages is crucial. Also, they need to make sure that all their air-conditioning, kitchen and refrigeration appliances are working optimally all the time. They may have different On/Off schedules for appliances in different areas. WattMan addresses these challenges in an automated manner through its cloud based intelligent controls.

Further, the electrical appliances may break down and that can have direct impact on sales. With our Machine Learning based models, we can predict the breakdown of appliances in advance.

IoT India Magazine- “Zenatix aims to address the energy efficiency problem across a range of customers and eventually help grids turn smarter”. How has the company been working to achieve this?

Vishal Bansal- Zenatix’ current product is aimed for retail chains and banking set-ups. We are currently working on building a smart IoT based Building Management System (BMS) for large commercial buildings such as offices, hotels, hospitals, etc.

One of the key problems for utilities (power distribution companies) is managing their peak load. With our automated control already installed at 1000s of locations, we can help them run a Demand Response program that can reduce their peak load and help manage their energy portfolio in a smarter and dynamic manner.

Demand Response basically means incentivizing the consumers to reduce their consumption at a particular time, so that utilities can reduce their peak load.

IoT India Magazine- What are the major challenges at your disposal?

Vishal Bansal- Both IoT and machine learning are new technologies which are changing the way customers consume energy. Our biggest challenge is adoption of our state of the art product by customers. While the customers clearly see the benefits of our product, there is an adoption curve for any new technology or product.

IoT India Magazine- WattMan is one its kind product in the market? Do you see any competition in the market?

Vishal Bansal- There is fragmented market with some hardware automation companies who have outsourced software and cloud infra capabilities. Similarly, there are software companies which are getting hardware done from third parties.

Zenatix is the only company which has built the entire product stack – hardware, firmware and software including the IoT platform. We believe that having a complete control of the product stack is key to the hardware robustness, and supporting additional use cases for customers.

IoT India Magazine- How has the growth story been? What are the company’s expansion plan?

Vishal Bansal- WattMan was launched about 1 year ago and has been embraced by some of the leading retail chains and banks in India. The product clearly provides value in terms of centralised governance and energy efficiency (resulting in RoI from the first month itself).

Our team is continuously developing and adding use cases to our products so as to deliver more value to our customers, while simultaneously innovating technologies to reduce costs of hardware and improve its robustness.

We also envision expanding from energy efficiency to smart retail as we increase our install base. With robust hardware, connected to cloud and with good processing capabilities, already in place, we envision developing several other industry specific applications taking our customers to a smart retail solution.

We are also developing channel partnerships with other players who provide orthogonal solutions to our target market segment e.g. those providing electrical panels. Such partnerships will help us achieve faster growth in a shorter span of time.

IoT India Magazine- Would you like to talk about funding? How does the company plan on utilizing these funds?

Vishal Bansal- We are a well funded company with backing from leading funds in India – Blume Ventures and pi Ventures. We have also raised money from some of the most reputed angel investors in India, namely, Rajan Anandan, Rahul Khanna, Kunal Bahl, Rohit Bansal and others.



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