After Aarau was given a new station with a futuristic-looking square in front of it in 2010, the course was very definitely set for the future in terms of urban planning. There are numerous new building projects planned for the town and the surrounding area over the coming years that include a completely new district with its own soccer stadium in the immediate vicinity of the station, for example. To ensure energy supplies for its more than 30 000 private and business customers, IBAarau is relying on future technologies.

Living sustainability

IBAarau already operates its own hydraulic power station, is offering customers more and more solar power, is renting areas for exactly that purpose in industrial buildings and farms, and supports private construction projects with sizeable contributions. By 2025, the company wants to be able to cover 20 % of the overall demand with renewable organic energy derived from water, wind and sun. Forty-six of the 284 employees are trainees, a fact that clearly underscores the company’s strong commitment to sustainability.

Ready for future challenges and bandwidths

To supply its customers in 22 communities, IBAarau has a 2000-km electricity and natural gas network with a large number of substations and distribution cabinets. A superimposed FO network ensures seamless network monitoring as well as performance – a major challenge for network operators. A geographic information system (GIS) documented down to the very last detail and FO management tool assign every fiber to the particular clients and their applications so that, in the case of failure, the company can react immediately and provide their clients with the appropriate information.

The FO network is also of use, however, for communication services such as Fiber to the Building (FTTB) and other applications. IBAarau does not act as a carrier in this area: Customers are totally independent in terms of technology and carrier. This is why the planning of the network focused in particular on the greatest possible flexibility up to the BEP (Building Entry Point). The network was designed to cater to future challenges and bandwidths. Due to the lack of space in ducts and trenches, four multitube conduits each with 144 fibers were laid in the urban area, and seven in out-of-town areas. Currently only one conduit is needed in each case; the others are simply there as backup.

Optical Distribution Frame (ODF) and Single Circuit Management (SCM) by R&M

The network is based on R&M’s Optical Distribution Frame ODF. Considerable flexibility was required as the individual stations are positioned in ancient, old and brand-new buildings. “The size and weight of the ODF posed no problems in terms of transport and installation, even in the most restricted of spaces, such as around the old Aarau town walls – the former home of markets and stables,” says Markus Thöny, project lead for telecommunications at IBAarau. “Some of the risers, for example from the lower to the upper town, are even in the old church walls!”

Modularity was another important criterion in the project. In conjunction with other building activities, the FO network is constantly being extended, effectively from duct to duct. The R&M Singe Circuit Management, that is always based on the same components, makes work easier for installation engineers who only have to be trained for the individual products once. As the amount of space available at the individual stations varies, each subproject had to be planned individually. Bruno Lehmann, Head of Telecommunications at IBAarau: “R&M offered us unparalleled service that just could not be matched by any other supplier! As we could not work with a standard solution to cover all individual cases, each substation had to be discussed individually in detail. Even deliveries were taken care of by R&M on site, which was highly constructive.”

IBAarau was familiar with R&M from earlier projects with external customers. Collaboration had always been totally satisfactory. And now finally, the two companies have managed to realize an FO project together.