March 2006
  
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The Winds of Change Blew at AHR Expo in Chicago

The Winds of Change Blew at AHR Expo in Chicago

  Ken Sinclair, AutomatedBuildings.com
Editor

As published
 

March Issue - Column 

The largest ever AHR Expo 2006 in Chicago was a kaleidoscope of change powered by the windy city itself. The energy and feeling of the transition into a new era was everywhere. Industry synergy abounded and the feeling of all the pieces fitting together was never greater.  When I returned from this event I wrote my 10 observations that I formulated while there which I called My 10 Takeaways from AHR Expo Chicago

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In this column I will summarize from this review and from otherís comments on our web site about the changes we saw in Chicago.

BACnet International a friendly powerful global community was born just before the show  Just before the opening of the show, members of two former organizations voted to consolidate and rename their collective assembly. BACnet International was born. The two organizations had been known as the BACnet Manufacturers Association (BMA) and the BACnet Interest Group of North America (BIG-NA).  All the hard work of achieving a consensus standard has come to a brilliant finish. The energy, no the synergy in the BACnet International booth was amazing, the sense of industry cooperation with the demonstration of a myriad of connected manufacturers products. The notion that was obvious was the fact as each of these manufacturers innovates with new BACnet products and services they add to the strength, the reach plus the cost effectiveness of their international community. Another feather in BACnet International cap was the support by the major control companies of their international standard.

Wireless Will Win Lots of real wireless products at this year's Expo. The discussion was hot about how wireless would dominate the last 300 feet adding thousands of points of intelligence to our systems. It was interesting to see that the structure cabling folks support wireless as it increases the need to have a structured back bone to accept all this new data that will be wirelessly collectedZigBee addresses the unique needs of remote monitoring, control and sensor network applications. It will play an increasing role in enabling embedded networks for building automation. ZigBee is not just low-power radio standards (802.15.4), but also wireless mesh radio protocol stack standards.

Soft Control of Hard Equipment is the future of new construction.  Why are hard equipment manufacturers and control companies merging? Two major reasons: First the new major construction business is not in North America but in India, China, Dubai and other off shore locations. Projects will be looking for complete solutions to HVAC comfort needs that include soft intelligent control of hard equipment ie chillers, air handling systems, terminal units etc. Reason number two is that hard equipment becomes more powerful and cost effective with soft controls.

Other takeaways discussed in the review:

Control Solutions, Inc Honeywell keeps Tridium's Niagara path from field to enterprise open;
Retrofit will Dominate the North American Market;
LonMark leads in re-educating our industry but we all must invest in education;
Cisco and other IT giants are studying the piece players of our industry;
Quarter baked thinking coupled with traditional marketing is eroding our markets;
CABA provides the catalyst and glue to help bind our industry;
AHR Expo's provides the annual melting pot for our converging community.

In an interview on our web site AHR and the Road to Palm Springs Anto shares these thoughts.

Sinclair:  What was your impression of AHR in Chicago this year?

Budiardjo:  The pre-show anticipation was high, but the reality was even more interesting, specially regarding the road to convergence. I met up with and spoke to around a hundred people, and it was a very accepted notion that convergence, Ethernet, IP are things that are happening now.

Sinclair:  Many were asking why Cisco is interested in building automation.

Budiardjo:  Yes, that was a dominant question being asked; why is Cisco sponsoring BuilConn in such a major way, what are their motives? The quick answer is a $25b worldwide opportunity. Whatís behind that is Ciscoís desire to partner with the industry and understand how it can participate and contribute to this emerging IP centric market. Cisco feels that BuilConn is an ideal way that they can enter this market.

The Building Intelligence Tour on Wednesday was a great success with over 100 folks showing up for this full day event. Kudos to both Paul and CABA plus a special thanks to all who volunteered their time and resources to bring this tour of intelligence to Chicago.

The AHR exposition is a true melding pot for our industry which is converging in several different ways and several different directions simultaneously.

 If you were unable to attend put this on your "must be there list" for 2007 in Dallas and 2008 in New York City. 

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