Building Automation: Wishes For A New Year
With another new year upon us, we find ourselves reflecting on the past year’s efforts and what might have made them easier or more successful. As usual, this focus centers on the use of open communications protocols in our industry. Fortunately, open protocols are clearly a success and are here to stay – the near universal support of BACnet® (and LonTalk/LonMark® to a lesser degree) by the BAS industry is a clear sign of this success. However, as with technology in general, each advance seems to reveal the need for more advances to achieve that elusive state of perfection. What are they?
- Interoperability for operator interfaces. As BACnet
continues to build on its domination of the so-called building
controller level of the market, the need for interoperability at the
next BAS component up the hierarchy continues to be missing. To date,
there still is no BTL listing for operator interface functionality,
due to the lack of sufficient protocol support for these products in
the original standard. Fortunately, the BACnet committee has been
working diligently to correct this matter for several for several
years; the addendum covering this issue completed its second public
review in October 2008.
of BACnet to Internet protocols. BAS communications with
many enterprise-level applications (e.g., Utility real-time pricing
and Microsoft server technologies, to name just two) requires that
BACnet become better adapted to Internet protocols and not the other
way around. As an attempt to make this happen, BACnet added support
for Web services to Standard 2006 (called “BACnet/WS”).
Unfortunately, this has not provided BACnet with what it truly needs
to provide enterprise-level interoperability. Instead, a second
addendum called “XML Data Formats” completed its first public
review in October 2008.
- More use of open protocols for building equipment/systems. As mentioned above, BAS manufacturers have demonstrated a near-universal support of open protocols. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the most of the manufacturers of other computerized building equipment controls and systems. These other products include the myriad of manufacturer-provided HVAC equipment controls (chillers, RTUs, etc.); fire alarm, lighting, and access control systems; and electrical systems ( UPS’s, PDUs etc.). On the surface, the support appears to be there; most of these products generally provide a BACnet, LonTalk, or Modbus communications option.
- Better support from manufacturers and representatives. Not only is the application of open communication technology for the above equipment/systems lacking, but the customer support for the technology aspect is also lacking. The documentation that describes the communications capabilities is usually terse, incomplete, or written only for in-house use.
Let’s hope the new year yields success, or at least improvements, for all of the above. ES
Building Intelligence Group provides services for clients worldwide including leading Universities, Corporations, and Developers. More information can be found at www.buildingintelligencegroup.com. We also invite you to contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.