Liebert demonstrated how its communication card allows for a/c monitoring over the Internet.

Dave Kelly of Liebert demonstrates where the communication cards can be placed inside the company's air conditioning systems.
ATLANTA, GA — Liebert Corp., based in Columbus, OH, manufactures systems that control temperature and humidity in data centers and telecommunications facilities. As a business that provides hvac systems for high-tech environments, the company has some high-tech solutions of its own to make the monitoring process easier.

At the 2001 AHR Expo here, Liebert unveiled two communication cards that promise to make on-site and remote monitoring of air conditioning systems easier and more affordable.

The company says one communication card will make it possible to read the system from the Internet, while the other will make it possible to link the system to a building management system or alarm panels.

These new communication cards are OpenComms® Network Interface Card (NIC) and the Discrete Output (OC-DO) card. Although both cards serve different functions, they also share similarities.

According to Dave Saliaris, director of the Liebert Monitoring Group, the communication cards are very easy to use. “The cards can either be ordered as part of the system or as a retrofit,” he said.

Both cards can be used in Liebert products made since 1988. This includes the Deluxe System 3, Challenger 3000, and MiniMate 2 air conditioning models.

For Liebert systems that do not already have a communication card installed, the installation process is fairly simple. “Installation is three screws, two wire harnesses, and a network drop,” said Saliaris. “You can do it in 20 minutes.”

Just Log On

The NIC is Liebert’s answer to easier and more efficient remote monitoring. It’s so easy to use, in fact, that building personnel never have to leave their desk to find out what is going on with the air conditioning system, the company says.

When the NIC is installed to the environmental equipment, it allows monitoring to take place through http or Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). The system is monitored on demand through a Web-based browser. Common browsers that the NIC is compatible with include Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer.

According to Saliaris, the NIC makes remote monitoring efficient because it provides virtual real-time data from wherever the user can get Internet access.

Once installed and given an Internet address, the end user makes the choice to allow access via the Intranet or through the firewall to the Internet. After the user brings up the browser, s/he simply types in the address, and the various system modes can be monitored over the computer.

Again, this function can be done wherever there is access from a computer, including a computer in another state than the monitored system, or from across the world. Saliaris also says that the NIC is affordable for businesses looking to do more remote monitoring. This is due in part to the NIC’s ability to interface with existing network wiring and network management systems.

Discrete Outputs

The OC-DO interface card is for on-site monitoring, and allows Form-C contact closures for up to 16 discrete outputs that will correspond to the major alarm conditions of the environmental unit.

The card links the Liebert unit to a number of systems, which include building management systems, I/O or alarm panels, and auto-dialer devices or a telephone switch.

Some of the major contact outputs include:

  • Cooling, heating, humidifying, and dehumidifying status;
  • High- and low-temperature and humidity alarms;
  • High head pressure;
  • Loss of airflow;
  • Change filter reminder;
  • Econocycle status;
  • Unit on and off; and
  • Loss of communications.
  • Like the NIC, the OC-DO has the same benefits of being efficient, cost-effective, and easy to install, says the manufacturer.

    More On the Way

    Saliaris said that there are more devices in development that will provide even more freedom for on-site and remote monitoring. The Liebert Monitoring Group has approximately 50 individuals who are working to create the future of monitoring.

    “Down the road we are looking to push for predictive monitoring,” Saliaris explained.

    Currently, the company’s monitoring systems can inform contractors of a problem when it occurs and provide retrospective data with trending for analysis. Predictive monitoring would be able to notify support staff of an impending problem in the system.

    The group is also looking into a monitoring system that would allow for more than just monitoring. With the NIC, individuals can check the mode and other various functions over the Internet. It could be possible with some development to allow users to control parameters in the Liebert unit over the Internet.

    Saliaris said that this form of monitoring still needs to be investigated. “We are waiting to see what market demands will bring. Security is the utmost concern with many of our end-users.”

    He also explained that this kind of system could work through a password method. If a problem is found in the system, users can enter a password over the website, which would enable them to alter the functions of the unit.

    Monitoring with control, according to Saliaris, can work, but it comes down to an issue of trust. Employees must keep passwords to themselves.

    Publication date: 03/08/2001