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Article - May 2001
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New Roads to Interoperability

lmhonbug.gif (1701 bytes)LonMark Interoperability Association's


 
… Oh, and don't forget 
the 
IT Industry


 

David J. Branson, PE President


New Roads to Interoperability

BACnet and LonWorks are familiar open protocols to the HVAC controls industry. They have also gained recognition in numerous other building automation industries.  But they are not alone.  The Information Technology industry (aka computer science, information science, etc.) has spawned an entirely new set of scripting languages and a generation of young workers to write them, and those workers don’t know BACnet or LonWorks from Adam’s house-cat.  They do, however, know how to code scripts that grab data and port them to other applications to do with as the programmers see fit – and they avoid the battle injuries incurred in skirmishes between the aforementioned protocol camps while doing it.  Examples of this are popping up in the world of Internet Browsing.  Additionally, with the intent of integration in mind, some development efforts are now blending these protocols and soft technologies together.  After all, the Internet is just another network….

The IT Mission

The IT industry is characteristically integrating in that it spans virtually all other industries to provide research and development, marketing and technical support.  It has grown into a field that inherently creates bridges where data can be transferred between applications for reuse.  Another way of describing this is “Interoperability” or “Integration” of systems.  A significant contribution by the IT industry is the Web Browser.  Another is the stimulation of users from the corporate to the residential levels with the impetus and training to use it as a tool.  Examples of this influence are popping up all over the world of Internet Browsing.  Additionally, with the intent of integration in mind, some development efforts are now blending BACnet, LonWorks, and other protocols and soft technologies together.  After all, the Internet is just another network…

BAS Integration 

Emerging Trends

Now that users are becoming more sophisticated in their abilities to grab data, an ever-increasing demand is arising for access to information that can be used in a myriad of ways.  Some want to assess and/or control energy usage across beyond classical boundaries of a building or campus, and now want the ability to address company-wide usage at the country- or international- level.  Some even want to negotiate the purchase of energy at the national level.  This demand has causing an elevation in the importance of technology integration.

One model that is emerging to handle large systems is the Cybernetic Building System.  You can learn more about it’s structure in (February 2001) ASHRAE Journal.

The Challenge - Coordination of Technologies

Developing a logical method by which to coordinate integration of building automation technologies

A real challenge to the building systems integration process is coordination of technologies that are available and desirable for interoperation. Plenty of help is available from the various camps that peddle integration protocols, and although that help sometimes comes at a significant time expense to the designer, the real investment can come during latter stages of construction, as installed systems are inter-connected. A methodology for coordination of integration sub processes is essential to a successful launch of the usable project. Some avenues to achieve the integrated systems goal are explored during the AHR Expo sessions.

KMC Controls Wireless Usage in Building Automation

Building Automation Industry is Perfect Recipient for Intra- and Inter-Building Use

Device level - Bluetooth, etc.
System level – protocols

The application of wireless technology has accelerated, and is predicted to continue steady growth for the foreseeable future. The building automation industry is a perfect recipient for use of this technology, both internally (intra-building) and externally (inter-building).

Many sensors could be more easily and cost-effectively networked in and around buildings without wiring and conduit. These wireless connections are particularly attractive in retrofit projects, or on challenging aesthetic masterpieces.

IP-based BAS protocols typically work well over Internet, and allow for administration and monitoring of protocol-compliant systems from a centralized location. Wireless technology is sometimes a cost-effective method for communication of building systems information at a campus, within a school district, or in other building groupings within the reach of a system’s RF signals, while avoiding multi-point wiring expenses to get to the Internet.


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