Smart IoT Box Makes Loss Adjustment Simpler

19.04.2021 by Pauline Batzer

A skilled worker tries to locate water ingress with a measuring device.

Water damage in buildings costs billions every year. Dehumidifiers can limit consequential damage and electricity consumption can be measured precisely thanks to the Internet of Things.

In Cologne many people will first associate water damage with the annual high water of the Rhine River, but in reality damage due to mains water is more frequent in Cologne than in any other German city. Nowhere in Germany do water pipes burst and faucets or boilers leak more often than in the cathedral city.

Mains water damage is mostly due to errors in installation and assembly. Faulty pipe connections and defective or the wrong gaskets account for one in four damages claims. Nationwide the German Insurance Industry Association (GDV) reckons that the cost of mains water damage claims in the last reporting year exceeded a record three billion euros.

Water Damage Requires Swift and Targeted Response

Water ingress? The leak must be located and drying must be gotten under way ASAP. POLYGONVATRO GmbH, based in Olpe, North Rhine-Westphalia, is specialized in this area. It is a European market leader in dealing with fire and water damage and locating leaks in residential, local government and commercial properties. Founded in 1992 as Vatro, the company has since 2011 belonged to the Swedish Polygon Group. In Germany POLYGONVATRO has 67 branches, around 1,800 employees and about 49,000 machines.

As soon as the leak from a burst pipe has been located and sealed and the water has been pumped out, POLYGONVATRO installs its special equipment. Condensation, adsorption or refrigeration dryers, blowers, ventilators and fan heaters reduce humidity in the air and in the building structure. This is a complex process that involves a high level of power consumption. Depending on the amount of damage, the equipment is in action for up to two weeks to fully dry floors, walls and ceilings. “If the damage is covered by insurance, customers can recover the cost from their insurer,” says Cornelia Czenkusch, Head of Quality Management at POLYGONVATRO.


Smart IoT Box Documents Electricity Consumption

In the past, POLYGONVANTRO used to record the drying devices’ power consumption by reading the electricity meters on installation and de-installation and with the aid of the equipment manufacturer’s energy consumption values. They made manual notes of the drying equipment’s device numbers and the meter readings. Back in the office these figures were entered into the accounting system. That was labor-intensive, time-consuming and prone to error. Power consumption could not be determined precisely in this way.

To tackle these problems POLYGONVATRO approached Deutsche Telekom. Jointly with the drying company Telekom developed a digital Internet of Things solution: the POLYGONVATRO energy metering box. It is equipped with a wireless modem, a calibrated energy meter compliant with the Measuring Instruments Directive’s MID standard, and temperature and humidity sensors.

When the technicians set up their drying devices at the customer’s premises nowadays they simply fit the smart box between the device and the power supply. To do so they attach the hardware to the device with a magnet. They then use a smartphone app to scan an RFID code to the dryer and the box, thereby linking the two units with each other. From then on the dryer’s electricity consumption is clearly allocated to an order and the measurement can go ahead.

Secure Data Transfer to the Cloud of Things

Via a built-in LTE/GPRS antenna the energy metering box relays the latest consumption data – anonymized as required by data protection regulations – to the IoT Cloud, Telekom’s IoT platform. If the antenna has no wireless reception because the drying device is, say, in a basement or an area with poor network coverage, that is not a problem. The box stores the data and transmits it to the cloud as soon as it can connect with the cellphone network. Consumption data can there be connected for further analysis.

For both POLYGONVATRO technicians and office staff tiresome paperwork and an unnecessarily heavy workload are a thing of the past. “Totally accurate digital billing make us a preferred partner of the insurers,” says Czenkusch. “They may not instruct us in connection with a claim but they increasingly recommend us.” That is because POLYGONVATRO customers receive precise consumption data for their insurance companies and power utilities. They can thereby demonstrate that this energy consumption is a one-off and that an adjustment of their monthly electricity installment is not necessary.

Advantages for the customer

  • Automatic, error-free measurement of running time, energy consumption, temperature and humidity
  • The measured power consumption of the connected device is automatically assigned to the correct customer order.
  • Customer can submit exact consumption values to their insurance company for the claim settlement
  • Proof of the increased electricity consumption due to a damage event to be provided to the electricity supplier
  • Data from all connected devices is stored centrally in the cloud and can be linked together for further analysis.


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Pauline Batzer
Pauline Batzer

Project Manager IoT

Since 2015, Pauline has been passionate about the variety of the IoT world. She has gained a lot of experience with the Internet of Things from different perspectives by working with customers, partners, and start-up companies. For the Telekom IoT blog she writes about technological trends, products, and innovations in the Internet of Things which are implemented in different industries.