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Building Automation, Controls Continue To Develop

March 3, 2003
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CHICAGO — If you listened carefully to what was being said by exhibitors in the designated Building Automation and Control Showcase area at the 2003 Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo), chances are the words “interoperability” and “open system” cropped up sooner or later.

To no one’s surprise, manufacturers continue to develop ways to make systems and products from multiple vendors communicate with one another, and there were plenty of new building automation systems and building controls introduced at the expo.

Like many others in the Building Automation and Control Showcase area at the AHR Expo, Novar Controls’ booth was busy throughout most of the three-day show.

LonMark Marches On

At a press conference, the LonMark Interoperability Association (San Jose, Calif.) took the opportunity to push its cause. Based on a growing demand for interoperability certification for member products, the association noted it was offering LonMark sponsor and partner members no-charge certifications.

“In response to market demand for open systems, during this past year we have seen a growing demand from our membership to certify their products as meeting the LonMark interoperability guidelines,” said Earl Gray, chairman of the association. “Our members and the integrator community have seen rising demand for LonMark-certified products — a testament to the value of the brand and the quality of our certification process — and they have rushed to fill this demand. To encourage and respond to the rise in product certifications, the board has decided to make the certification process even easier and less expensive.”

Selected association members then stepped to the podium to introduce new products and services. First in line was Echelon Corporation (San Jose, Calif.), which highlighted its i.LON 100 Internet Server, FT 3120 and FT 3150 free-topology twisted pair smart transceivers, PL 3120 and PL 3150 power line smart transceivers, LNS network operating system, and the LonMaker integration tool. According to Echelon, its i.LON 100 Internet Server is able to gather energy consumption information from pulse meters plus provide built-in applications for alarming, trending, scheduling, and data logging along with a Web server designed to enable Internet command and control of any LonWorks-based device in a building.

Bea Yormark, Echelon president and chief operating officer, was on hand for the debut of the company’s LonWorks Product Database, termed “the first iteration of an online tool for the worldwide LonWorks community which connects specifiers, integrators, and end users with over 700 LonWorks-based products.” Participating with Echelon at the expo were Honeywell (Golden Valley, Minn.), Wago (Germantown, Wis.), Distech Controls (Boucherville, Quebec), FieldServer Technologies (Milpitas, Calif.), Triatek (Norcross, Ga.), TAC Americas (Carrollton, Texas), Circon Systems (Richmond, British Columbia), Kele Companies (Bartlett, Tenn.), Yaskawa (New Berlin, Wis.), Onicon Inc. (Clearwater, Fla.), Raypak (Oxnard, Calif.), Novar Controls (Copley, Ohio), Ebtron (Loris, S.C.), and AC Technology (Uxbridge, Mass.)

“We are very pleased to join with so many leading companies here at AHR Expo to demonstrate the power and benefit of open LonWorks systems and the market momentum behind the LonWorks platform,” said Yormark. “While everyone claims these days to be open — after all, who would want to admit to customers demanding open systems that they are, in fact, buying a closed system in sheep’s clothing — we believe, as is being shown here, that only LonWorks systems and the broad array of companies offering compatible products and services deliver the vendor choice, cost savings, operational improvements, and cross-functional integration that end users expect when they ask for open systems.”

Echelon said its LNS software platform and network operating system is now available in Honeywell’s Excel 5000 Open System, that company’s flagship product line for building automation and controls.

“There’s a lot of incorrect and misleading information in the market today from both analysts and technology supporters that lead end-users to make poor choices or just plain confuse them,” said David Willett, Honeywell’s Building Control Solutions vice president. “We’re at AHR to put a stake in the ground about what really open is by showing our new LNS-based Excel 5000 Open System, Care 4.0 network management tool, and extensive line of LonWorks-based unitary automation devices in our Excel family, all of which are designed to deliver the real benefits of open systems.”

Engenuity Systems (Chandler, Ariz.) discussed its new Web site (www.engenuity.com), which is said to provide over 1,500 LonWorks products from 50 manufacturers at one Web location from one supplier.

“A lot of discussion has taken place in the HVACR market about the benefits and pitfalls of open systems based on LonWorks technology versus proprietary systems,” said Jodi Jones, sales and marketing manager. “Which approach is better? What about product availability? How can I improve my choices? For the open systems market, www.engenuity.com is the only Web site resource in the industry addressing these questions.”

Circon Systems Corp. (Richmond, British Columbia) announced the availability of its Network Integrator 3 network integration software, Site Management Controller (SMC-300), and Variable Air Volume Controller for external damper motor (UHC-302-XMV). According to the company, its SMC-300 provides “reliable and immediate alarm capture and dial-out notification to local or remote computers or pagers based on user-defined priority, alarm-type, and schedule.” The company said using its Network Integrator 3, “system integrators can create, commission, and maintain open, interoperable, multi-vendor facility automation systems.” Circon added its UHC-302-XMV “meets the need of the retrofit market where in-place damper motors must be reused and provides flexibility in situations where high-speed damper motors are required.”

Last to step up to the podium was FieldServer Technologies (Milpitas, Calif.), which showcased its Model FS-B2011 LonWorks Bridge, a protocol translator gateway designed to enable devices using “foreign protocols to communicate with the LonWorks network.”

Award Winners

Honeywell Building Control Solutions was recognized by the AHR Expo for its HVAC Service Assistant, “a tool the service technicians can use to diagnose and improve the performance of cooling systems.” The product earned an Innovation Award in the “Instruments, Tools and Software” category.

“We’re thrilled that the Honeywell HVAC Service Assistant has been recognized for its advanced and multiple innovations,” said Bob Sundberg, marketing manager. “With this product, the change in the contracting service business is as dramatic as the move from calculators to a personal computer from automobile carburetors to fuel injection.”

According to Sundberg, the HVAC Service Assistant can be used when commissioning a new cooling system to prove that the air conditioning system is performing properly, designed to avoid expensive callbacks. He also noted the product can be used when servicing equipment to diagnose problems, increase energy savings, reduce unexpected or emergency repairs, and help commercial building owners plan capital expenditures based on life expectancy of the equipment.

Meanwhile, Novar Controls (Copley, Ohio) was proud to take an Honorable Mention in the “Energy” category for its IQ-SBS, which the company said “brings large building controls to the small building market.”

According to general manager and vice president Dean Lindstrom, the IQ-SBS offers small buildings HVAC, lighting, and card access control and security monitoring. The Web-based monitoring system features patent-pending automatic configuration technology “that eliminates costly engineering and programming typically associated with advance control systems.”

In addition, Novar introduced its IQ3xcite controller, designed to communicate via Ethernet. It also noted its Envoi executive module has been enhanced to offer multi-site small building facility managers “many of the features formerly available only to large building operators.”

Dennis Suchomski (right) and Christopher J. Duchesneau (left) help a potential customer at Setra’s booth.

New Developments

  • Maxitrol (Southfield, Mich.) said its new DFM14 and DFM44 temperature control systems are for use with recirculating direct gas-fired modulating air heaters and are designed to comply with new ANSI Z83.18 specifications. One of the control methods used is the “Auto-calibrate” feature.

    “‘Auto-calibrate’ is a simple calibration process that gathers damper position data and the corresponding airflow data,” said Maxitrol senior development engineer Mark Masen. “This information is then used to generate each unit’s air flow characteristic. With air quality becoming more of an issue, our new systems allow the use of the highly efficient, direct-fired recirculating heaters while still maintaining, or exceeding, an acceptable level of air quality.”

  • Teletrol Systems (Manchester, N.H.) announced the release of its newest version of eBuildings, an Internet-powered, BACnet-compliant building automation system. According to senior vice president Joseph Klotz, this release includes improvements in scheduling, alarm management, trending, and extended support for multiple sites.

  • Automated Logic Corp. (Kennesaw, Georgia) released its latest version of WebCTRL, the company’s Web-based building control technology. According to the company, new for this year is a new generation of control hardware “with dramatically improved speed and memory, a Web services interface utilizing SOAP/XML technology for cross-platform data sharing with other computers systems, and an improved multi-lingual operator interface.”

  • Onicon (Clearwater, Fla.) introduced its System-30 Btu measurement system. Incorporating a built-in inline flow sensor and matched temperature sensors, each System-30 is individually calibrated using N.I.S.T. traceable standards, said the company. It is designed to deliver accurate, reliable energy data for small tenant energy billing applications.

  • Alerton (Redmond, Wash.) said it expanded its BACnet-compliant product line with the addition of its new BACtalk Integrator 100 (BTI-100) global controller. Features include a 32-bit processor and 10/100 Mbps Ethernet connections “for enhanced performance and reliability,” it said. Alerton also noted its redesigned Web site, www.alerton.com.

  • Phoenix Controls (Acton, Mass.) noted it has relocated its offices and manufacturing operation to a new facility to permit a marked increase in production capacity. Phoenix Controls also said it plans to bring wireless technology to the laboratory environment with a demonstration of a wireless sash sensor prototype. Designed for hoizontal sashes, the patent-pending product uses a radio frequency transmitter and a receiver, designed to detect, calculate, and communicate sash position in less than one second, it said.

  • Tridum (Richmond, Va.) introduced Vykon BACnet Supervisor, a Web-based, vendor-independent BACnet workstation solution “providing users with the ability to view, manage, and control multi-vendor BACnet systems and devices from a common system,” it said. Also introduced at the expo was the JACE 403, its latest Java application control engine device, designed “to provide supervisory control for LonWorks products workstation, on-board I/O for auxiliary monitoring and control, and connectivity to other open and proprietary devices via optional drivers,” it said.

  • Setra (Boxborough, Mass.) featured its pressure transducers. Newest to the family are the 267-MR and 267-Static Probe. Setra said its 267-MR can supply ranges as low as 0.1-in. W.C. Meanwhile, the 267-Static Probe is designed to be mounted directly into the duct and is now available with an integral static probe.

  • Kele (Bartlett, Tenn.) put a spotlight on its Frontier Wireless I/O System, which the company said “brings wireless technology to the building automation system marketplace.” The products are pre-configured and in stock, ready for plug-and-play operation, it said.

    Publication date: 03/03/2003

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