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Case study

Improving Aqualisa's Shower System Infrastructure with Pro Mosquitto

Company overview

Aqualisa Products Limited has been a leading UK based shower innovator since 1976. The company has consistently pushed the limits of technology to deliver the best experience to its customers. They introduced the world’s first smart shower, which utilizes app functionality to personalize showers through digital technology.

Industry: Manufacturing

Project: Smart shower

Country: United Kingdom

Project introduction

Aqualisa develops smart shower systems  consisting of a shower control panel and digital connected mixer valve that can be operated through a dedicated mobile app. One of the unique benefits is that users can remotely activate the shower and receive notifications when the water reaches a desired temperature.

Challenge

The solution that Aqualisa had in place was using an MQTT broker to ensure communication between the shower system and the cloud. However, the showers were not communicating effectively with the cloud, causing activation delays and an inability to onboard new users.

A potential cause highlighted by Aqualisa’s Head of Smart Technology, was that the shower systems were sending frequent debug messages, potentially overwhelming the broker. Unfortunately, the existing firmware on the field showers could not be modified. As a result, the Aqualisa team concluded that they needed a solution that could filter the messages. 

During their extensive search for an online MQTT filter or custom versions of MQTT brokers, Aqualisa consistently found Mosquitto at the top of their considerations.

“Cedalo’s business approach was highly personable. We had a technical conversation, and they understood the frustrations we were facing. Furthermore, when we started discussing the issue with Roger Light and the Cedalo team, it became evident that they were experts in the field. This made me feel much more confident that we would arrive at a solution.”

Aqualisa’s Head of Smart Technology

This positive experience played a pivotal role in Aqualisa’s decision to collaborate with Cedalo and reinforced their confidence in the choice of an MQTT broker.

The original solution

To address Aqualisa’s challenge, Cedalo introduced a solution to add a Pro Mosquitto MQTT broker in front of their existing one. This setup would filter out redundant messages and only transmit messages of interest to the shower system–ensuring that only necessary and relevant data is sent to its destination.

The Aqualisa team was eager to implement this new solution as soon as possible, as the system’s issues were impacting their customers and increasing the load on their support team.

The solution involved Cedalo implementing three bridges as part of the Aqualisa system, where their shower devices connect to the bridges. As a result, Pro Mosquitto started capturing all messages that were supposed to go directly to the other broker. By filtering around 90% of the total traffic, Pro Mosquitto was able to reduce the load on the other broker immensely.

“The showers were sending three messages per second, 24 hours a day–which we didn’t need. As soon as Pro Mosquitto was implemented, it was like flicking a switch. Loads of our problems went away at that point, which was a huge positive. So, the majority of the unnecessary messages could be dropped.”

Aqualisa’s Head of Smart Technology

Originally, the system involved three single-node Pro Mosquitto brokers distributing the traffic between them. Despite the problem, the number of concurrently connected clients increased from approximately 7,050 to about 7,620.

The next steps

At the same time, Aqualisa was also developing a new generation of shower devices. These new devices offer improved functionality and are designed to accommodate updates for future enhancements and features. This decision aligns with Aqualisa’s long-term commitment to supporting their products for the next 20 years.

The new generation of showers also gave Aqualisa the opportunity to redesign the service to which the showers connect. This resulted in a more robust and efficient system for the new showers but at the cost of compatibility with the existing showers. Therefore, Cedalo implemented a Pro Mosquitto translation layer to bridge the gap between the old showers and the new system, and fulfill Aqualisa’s vision of making system updates possible. 

This layer takes messages coming from each shower and translates and consolidates them into a single bigger message, which is then sent to the cloud. When commands are sent from the cloud to the showers, such as “Start or Stop the shower,” the translation layer uses that command to send the required individual messages to the shower.

Pro Mosquitto will continue to filter out the redundant messages before they reach the central broker. However, the new showers connect directly to the central broker.

The filtering feature will remain an essential aspect of the infrastructure, as showers will continue to send substantial amounts of data to the bridges. Aqualisa’s new devices will no longer rely on the old cloud system. Instead, they will directly connect to Microsoft Azure, which is intended to improve the efficiency and organization of the system.

To facilitate this process, they plan to migrate their infrastructure by replacing the existing system broker with Azure IoT. The translation layer will help manage this transition, allowing the old showers to connect to the new Azure-based system through their existing infrastructure, and without any changes to the shower itself. This bridge will effectively allow the two systems to coexist and ensure a smooth migration. 

During the transition, the old showers will continue to be supported via Mosquitto’s bridge (message filtration) and go straight to Azure. Once a sufficient number of users have migrated, the old broker will be phased out. In essence, Aqualisa’s transition plan aims to replace the existing broker with Azure IoT in the final architecture while ensuring the continued functionality and improvement of their smart shower systems.

Results

Since Pro Mosquitto was introduced to Aqualisa, there has been a substantial decrease in the number of problems and customer requests related to their system. Cedalo successfully resolved Aqualisa’s issues and provided a solution that made their devices communicate and work properly. 

“Our customer service team takes pride in delivering exceptional service, and although it’s not always possible to please everyone, we’ve noticed a significant improvement in our ability to address customer concerns since implementing this solution. I am no longer overwhelmed by complaints, and our customer service team can now concentrate on more tangible issues, enabling them to provide better support for our customers.”

Aqualisa’s Head of Smart Technology

Moreover, the positive shift resulted in substantial cost savings of around $100 per day due to the reduced load on their infrastructure. This, in turn, made it possible to downsize the required resources, including notable reductions in Amazon hosting and bandwidth expenses.

Aqualisa’s Head of Smart Technology emphasized the transformative impact on overall operations, stating: “To get to the point where now we’ve brought the cost down, resolved most of the issues, and it’s all working just by involving the right people who understand this technology. The best part is that it validates everything – I couldn’t have achieved it on my own, but I found the right people who’ve helped us achieve it, and it’s been brilliant.”

Aqualisa’s collaboration with Cedalo has not only improved operational efficiency, but also positively impacted the overall functionality of their smart shower systems.

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