LichtWART: Intelligent Illuminated Advertising with IoT

21.09.2021 by Annalena Rauen
The Berliner Bogen in Hamburg, which spans 140 meters of water.

LichtWART ensures that illuminated advertising always shines at the right intensity and that faults are reported swiftly – services that are based on Telekom’s Cloud of Things.

From shoe stores via fast food chains to movie theaters, we frequently encounter illuminated advertising on the freeway, downtown and in remote industrial areas. But strict rules apply. Ignore them and your billboard’s lighting may be switched off.

Neon signs are designed to be in use for decades and many have sent their message for ages. Maintenance and repair of their analog technology are expensive. As a rule, the signs have only a timer and a dimmer switch, so inspections, cleaning, repairs and adjustments can only be carried out manually on-site. In addition, faults and malfunctions often go unnoticed for lengthy periods. “It really becomes difficult when defective illuminated signage has a negative impact on the customer’s image,” says LichtWART founder Gregor Giataganas. Defective LEDs can transform a Drogerie (drugstore) into a Droge, or drug, and turn KAFFEE into an AFFE – a monkey. “The consequences of an outage can even impact on sales if, say, travelers on the autobahn fail to notice the Raststätte (service station) sign in time,” he says.

SME Invests in Digitization of Illuminated Advertising

LichtWART aims to put an end to mishaps of this kind by upgrading analog facilities without major installation work, maintaining them remotely and remedying outages promptly. The basis for all of these is the Internet of Things (IoT). LichtWART was founded in 2020 as a subsidiary of Bertelmann, an SME that designs, installs, repairs and maintains around 2,000 illuminated billboards all over Germany.

By launching LichtWART the SME seeks to stay sustainable by investing in the digitization of illuminated advertising. Bertelmann chose Telekom as its digitization expert. The Bonn-based Telekom Group is in charge of the digital networking of LichtWART solutions, and the Internet of Things plays a key role as the light management platform.

It did precisely that at the Berliner Bogen in Hamburg, a building that spans around 140 meters of a kilometer-long high water basin. Especially at night it is an architectural highlight and a real eyecatcher. Three lighting arrays make the Berliner Bogen’s entrance area, nearly 40 meters high, shine brightly. What is special about it is that the operator monitors the lighting remotely and in comfort on a PC, a smartphone or a tablet and not at a dizzying on-site height.

Predictive Maintenance: Repairs Without Delays

The LichtWART and Telekom IoT solution makes it possible. The system consists of a hardware module, a light sensor, an antenna, a SIM card and M2M connectivity, and this is how it works: the wireless module sends the lighting’s sensor data to Telekom's IoT Cloud, where, stored securely and highly available, it is evaluated. The lighting’s status can be monitored in real time on a Web interface, and predictive maintenance ensures that maintenance and repairs are carried out early, efficiently and inexpensively. The IoT solution reports imminent faults and malfunctions automatically, saving time and money. Repairs are dealt with faster: technicians know what the fault is before they set off, so they can take the right spare parts with them.

“Managing and maintaining the three lighting arrays is much easier now. If an outage occurs, the repair is initiated automatically: without delays and with low process costs and personnel input,” says Dennis Peizert, CEO of Hanselicht and manufacturer of the Berliner Bogen’s lighting system. A glance at the energy consumption makes his eyes sparkle. The smart solution reduces energy costs by up to 40 percent.

Gregor Giataganas, Managing Director of Lichtwart GmbH, and Sven Böse from Telekom in conversation.

Sustainable Signage Cuts Maintenance and Running Costs

Using Lichtwart and Telekom’s IoT networking solution pays off, and not just in facility management. Thanks to a retrofit solution HanseMerkur’s illuminated advertising shines brightly and reliably at Hamburg’s Dammtor railroad station. “For HanseMerkur as a mutual insurance company, doing business responsibly is a part of our DNA. So our prominently positioned illuminated advertising upgrade at Dammtor Station using a LichtWART module marked the deliberate start of a more sustainable advertising approach,” says HanseMerkur’s Sales and Marketing Director Eric Bussert.

In the course of rebranding, all of battery manufacturer VARTA AG’s locations will be fitted out with new illuminated advertising facilities in 2021. “The technology enables us to manage our illuminated advertising optimally and helps us to reduce maintenance and operating costs,” says Fabian Stock, Head of Group Business Development at Varta. “Reducing light pollution by means of smart management was another argument that convinced us.”


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Annalena Rauen
Annalena Rauen

Marketing Managerin IoT

Back in 2016, Anna worked on IoT topics at Deutsche Telekom for the first time. Since then, she has been supporting customer best practices in a wide range of industries – always focusing on the benefits that the Internet of Things can provide. Her IoT blogposts describe real use cases and the value these innovations add to market players, their business models, and even entire industries.