Seeley: Using IoT solutions to remotely update air-conditioning systems
Establishing an IoT infrastructure that enables secure and reliable quality control and over-the-air updates by the manufacturer and customers.
At a glance
DiUS partnered with Seeley International to transform its Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure to enable greater quality control and over-the-Air (OTA) updates to its cooling systems already installed in residential properties here and internationally. Seeley now has new firmware to easily identify and resolve internal problems as well as the ability to roll out firmware upgrades over the air, resulting in a 20% reduction in warranty or customer issues and a reduction in carbon footprint as technicians have less need to go on site. In addition to a more resilient and scalable device provisioning process, and a continued focus on security, a targeted initiative to bolster its security between the mobile device controllers was also implemented.
Meet Seeley International
Seeley International is Australia’s largest air conditioning and ducted gas heating manufacturer and a global leader in developing ingenious, energy efficient cooling and heating products. Some of its most well known brands include Breezair, Braemar, Coolair and Climate Wizard.
The company has experienced more than 50 years of success and grown to become a global leader in the HVAC manufacturing industry. More than 80,000 products and 1,500,000 components are manufactured in Australia every year.
Having its global headquarters in Australia, over 450 employees and four manufacturing facilities, Seeley International exports to more than 120 countries around the world through its global distributor network. Together with sales offices in the USA, UK, France, Italy and South Africa, the company has delivered millions of installations around the globe.
Seeley International’s vision is to lead the world in creating climate control solutions which continue to be highly innovative, of premium quality and inspirational in their delivery of energy-efficiency.
The need for greater customer control at all times
With greater technology advancements, customers expect more than an on/off switch when it comes to controlling heating and air conditioning solutions. Customers want greater control and pre-program functionality such as temperature, time settings and room zoning at any time, from anywhere.
Maintaining software and hardware that provide these features needs to go beyond the factory floor and can’t rely only on technician site visits. Seeley recognised that focusing on their IoT solution was key to their evolution and quickly identified the need to work with a partner to support current and future products, help establish a framework, and have the credibility and capability in IoT – ensuring that its customers were at the forefront. Functionality and security shortcomings coupled with a range of legacy systems provided Seeley with the opportunity to pause, reflect and reimagine its offering.
DiUS was brought in to evaluate its current solution to better understand how we could support Seeley’s vision. To enable this, DiUS needed to lay the foundations and develop new firmware, improve security between mobile devices and the AWS services, register devices with AWS IoT Core and implement proper CI/CD with infrastructure as code, and enable the ability to update devices over the air.
What we did
Creating more value from smart connected products
DiUS began by evaluating the existing system, particularly around the cloud infrastructure to ensure the different AWS services had been engineered to allow for growth and scale. We then conducted a thorough architecture review from a security, data optimisation and resource usage perspective. This allowed us to make recommendations around new firmware changes, mobile application updates, IoT devices updates and overall backend work ensuring we had a foundation to continue to evolve the product based on Seeley’s vision.
As an initial focus was on security, we re-architected the firmware to support the updates, and the team reviewed and updated the existing mobile application to ensure greater compatibility and support for the new security changes.
As part of our engagement, we introduced Seeley to agile ways of working, which was something new to the team, to ensure better communication, collaboration and iterative development processes. This helped support a number of challenges Seeley previously encountered and allowed for a more focused and outcome-based partnership. This new way of working also provided a blueprint on how projects at Seeley will be implemented in future, which includes replacing manual testing with an automated testing framework from a device, cloud and application lifecycle.
“The DiUS team is extremely professional, and delivers quality solutions in a timely manner. They have a wealth of knowledge in the AWS space and offer expertise in many areas including IoT and AI/ML. The team is friendly and happy to support you to become familiar with the environment’s solutions they build so that you can get an understanding and have the ability to maintain it should you desire.”
– Barry Earl, Product Manager – Controls, Seeley International
Results for Seeley International
Seamless, automatic over-the-air updates and greater security measures
DiUS provided an OTA solution at a fraction of the cost to physically change thousands of devices, saving Seeley in excess of a million dollars. The new solution also enables the ability to securely update individual devices rather than an “all or nothing” option, and a rollback process if required. This was a pivotal achievement for the team to ensure the continued rollout and support for the current customer base with upcoming changes to the devices to ensure a better product experience, and continued growth of Seeley’s footprint in the market.
One of the challenges OTA resolved was the ability to better understand, monitor and manage the current device firmware, but also have the ability to test modifications, isolate specific device issues and lay the foundation for new devices and firmware that will be released in the market.
Supporting these current and new devices manually would have been costly and the rollout would have taken over six months to upgrade, causing disruption to end users with logistical implications that wouldn’t have been able to scale or support Seely’s vision of global rollout.
The upgrades were rolled out to over 5000+ systems already installed, without service disruption. Since the upgrades, Seeley has achieved a 20% reduction in warranty or customer issues, saving over $24,000 per year. Seeley has also reduced its carbon footprint as technicians no longer need to go onsite to replace equipment or investigate issues, estimated to be 3.9t of C02 reduction per year.
Seeley now has the scalability and flexibility to confidently grow the solution into new markets outside of Australia and New Zealand. Improved security of the devices and the system as a whole also allows Seeley to enter regions where specific security requirements are mandated such as the European Union.
These requirements include:
- reducing exposure of customer sensitive information by removing such information from the devices internal storage; and
- individual security certificates with certificate rotation and expiry to reduce the risk of services being infiltrated.
Automatic device provisioning at end of line manufacturing
Automatic procedure for a highly secure and reliable means of registering AC controllers into the system with the correct individual security measures now allows for mass production and registration of devices into the system as part of the end of line, before being sent to the customer’s site. This included developing a means to retrofit the 5000+ devices currently in the field to the more secure system, without the need to manually intervene or device recall.