The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

IT infrastructure for thermal spa operators
Experience – Information technology

The IP address for paradise

Spa operator. Tropical temperatures, metre-high palm trees and crystal-clear water – Wund Group thermal spas make dreams of the South Pacific a reality. What most guests don’t know, however, is that behind this relaxing spa experience is a highly efficient IT infrastructure from Rittal

Text Sophie Bruns and Rebecca Lorenz ––– Photography

Always on hand

There’s nothing like relaxing after a stressful week at work – and where better to do it than the South Pacific? Even more satisfying is when you don’t have to fly all the way to Fiji, Tahiti or Samoa to do so. You can also find tropical temperatures, metre-high palm trees and crystal-clear water in Germany, for instance in the 18,000 m2  Thermen & Badewelt Euskirchen. No need to worry about visas, vaccinations or flight tickets – a hand towel and bathing suit is all you need here, as transponders and IP addresses work behind the scenes to digitally control the bathing experience. The armband with a transponder chip given to each guest is an electronic data storage device. It gathers fundamental information – such as duration of stay – and ensures that guests can move about the spa without any cash and nevertheless still be able to pay for drinks, snacks, massages and the solarium. If the armband is held against a receiving device, the integrated RFID chips exchange all the necessary data. This means IT systems need to be fully operational during the opening hours – that’s up to 17 hours a day, 365 days a year. High availability is therefore an absolute must for the Wund Group, which operates thermal spas in Erding, Bad Wörishofen, Titisee, Sinsheim and Euskirchen.

Carefully controlled

Take off your jeans and get into your bathing suit. Guests can use one of the 2,400 lockers to safely stow away their clothing and valuables. There is no need for cash, as each transponder armband opens and closes exactly one locker – the one that has the same number as the armband itself. After a quick wash down in the shower, it’s off to the baths. Enjoying an internal spa temperature of a snug 33 degrees Celsius, guests can forget about the cold and rainy conditions outside.  Temperature, humidity and lighting is controlled by IT systems. To counteract fluctuations, values are consistently monitored. After all, guests should never feel too hot or too cold. And because it’s not just the guests who are highly sensitive to temperature, but the IT, too, the CMC III monitoring system from Rittal is used at four of the five WUND Group’s locations. Sensors in the server racks monitor the temperature and humidity. The measured values are then incorporated into the RiZone data center management solution and centrally monitored at the site in Munich, meaning IT staff are always equipped to quickly deal with any irregularities.

A computer-controlled irrigation system takes care of watering the 500 palm trees and 1,200 orchids. 

Reliably looked after

Before diving into the water, most guests treat themselves to a quick snooze. There’s no need to rush, as their day in paradise has only just begun. They can choose from the hundreds of white beach loungers to read, take a nap or simply relax. Surrounding them are just under 500 palm trees and around 1,200 orchids. These sensitive tropical plants can take a lot of looking after. But you’ll struggle to spot a gardener or watering can.  A cutting-edge, computer-controlled irrigation system takes care of watering the plants. For this to work, each plant is allocated its own IP address, which shows exactly when and how much water each plant has been given. In total, there are more than 3,000 IP addresses in the Euskirchen thermal spa – and the number is growing. Yet again, this requires the IT infrastructure to be as scalable as possible. The required flexibility comes in the shape of highly standardised, modular computer centres from Rittal. The components they contain – from the server racks and cooling units right through to monitoring – can be seamlessly combined and expanded as and when required. 

No waiting in queues

Restaurant or pool bar? Water or juice? Pasta or salad? The fruit cocktails are a firm favourite among the guests. But they don’t pay for food and drink with cash in the restaurant or bar – that would be time-consuming and impractical. Instead, payments are initially recorded on the transponder armband. With hundreds of transactions carried out every day, immense amounts of data are generated that need to be processed and held in the local data centre. If this doesn’t work, long queues can build up at the till. A stress factor – and for most guests a reason not to come back. To avoid delays, the Wund Group uses ­autonomous and standardised computer centres from Rittal at four of its locations. They offer short latency times, which enables data to be processed in real time. The Rittal solution offers the required level of availability and stringent data protection, too.

Thoroughly monitored

Off the lounger and into the water – and there’s plenty of choice here, too. Thermen & Badewelt Euskirchen has a total of four different swimming pools. Each of them has a different water temperature, ranging from a refreshing 24 to a tropical 33 degrees Celsius. What’s more, there are more than 50 jacuzzi-style loungers, four healthcare pools, a diving platform and numerous whirlpools and massage jets. Anyone hoping to try it all out is bound to back for more. After all, there also sauna facilities waiting to be discovered. IT systems control the temperature of both the air and water. Given its important role for ensuring guests are comfortable, the monitoring system sends an alarm signal as soon as the temperature in the pools experiences a dramatic rise or fall. But besides the guests, the IT is also greatly affected by fluctuations in temperature. That is why Liquid Cooling Packages and cool aisle containment systems from Rittal ensure a constant operating temperature in the data center’s servers. If the central monitoring system at the site in ­Munich nevertheless detects a fault, the staff trigger a continuous alarm system, meaning their colleagues on site can quickly deal with the issue. 

Enjoy cashlessly: Payments are recorded easily on the transponder armband. 

Rapid service

Guests at Thermen & Badewelt Euskirchen have ten different saunas and two steam rooms to choose from. There are up to 70 events and sauna infusions spread over the course of the day – relaxation is guaranteed. The transponder arm band registers entry into the sauna area, too. After all, just as is the case with beauty treatments, sunbeds and massages, using the thermal baths is classified as an extra. No cash is needed here, either – customers only have to pay when they leave. To enable customers to book and use additional services, the IT needs to function perfectly. But were a failure to happen, the spa operator could count on rapid service from Rittal, as no matter which of the five spa locations are affected, Rittal technicians are on site in next to no time thanks to the company’s nationwide service network. Regular training means all technicians are experts in maintaining and repairing cooling units and data center solutions. One additional advantage is that the highly standardised components that make up the Rittal solution are available around the clock – including any urgently needed spare parts.

  • Three Questions to

    Three Questions to

    Franz Hofstetter
    IT Manager of the Wund Group

    Mr Hofstetter, why did you choose IT solutions from Rittal? Because the IT systems at our five locations are independent from each other even though they are centrally monitored, all potential solutions had to satisfy a minimum of four criteria. We wanted to manage the monitoring and fault messages across all sites, benefit from ­especially high-quality system technology, standardise the IT infrastructure as much as possible and have access to a nationwide service network. Rittal offers all of these things. In addition, the specialists at Rittal were able to provide us with in-depth expert advice. We always felt as if they understood the challenges to running a spa company of this size and one that had different sites. The fact that, despite the high degree of standardisation, setting up and expanding the IT is as flexible as possible, confirms we made the right decision.

    Why did you opt for an edge solution, rather than a central computing centre? This decision was actually difficult to make. Besides ­rapid scalability, a central computer centre offered reduced maintenance outlay and high energy efficiency. The edge solution, on the other hand, offered autonomous operation with short latency times and stringent data security. Given that huge amounts of data produced at each of our locations 365 days a year need to be processed in real time, high availability ultimately swayed us. After all, high availability is not a luxury in our spas, but vital for business. Guests have zero tolerance for downtimes and don’t want to have to wait long at the till. We could only avoid this by using the autonomous edge solution.

    How will you continue to work together in the future? We are already planning the next steps with Rittal, as ­ever-advancing digitization means we need to expand our existing IT infrastructure. The racks, climate control solutions and monitoring systems from Rittal are highly standardised, which means expanding our computer centres is not a problem. If we needed to, we could even integrate completely new sites into our IT landscape. Such flexibility has always been important to us and I am delighted that we have finally achieved this.  After all, malfunctioning IT would cause long-lasting damage to our corporate image, in addition to financial losses.

     

Complete relaxation

After a carefree day, the first guests saunter over to the till. Long queues? Stressed staff? Mistakes on the bill? To avoid all this, the data stored on the transponder armband is read off. Duration of stay, drinks consumed and usage of the sauna facilities – everything is stored and easy to follow. After settling the bill, guests head off into the rain outside and it’s not long before they’re dreaming about spending another day in paradise.  

To ensure guests enjoy every minute of their stay, the IT system works behind the scenes, completely undetectable. And because four criteria are met – central system monitoring, high-quality system technology, maximum standardised IT infrastructure and a nationwide service network – failures are a thing of the past. An important aspect for the spa operator to make sure customers are satisfied – and return. 

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