ATLANTA, GA — Visitors to the building automation booths at the recent AHR Expo caught a glimpse of the future, and that future is now.

Building automation companies have expanded their products’ capabilities and users can now manage the heating, air conditioning, and the lights in one or more buildings via the Internet from anywhere in the world, if need be.

This “Wireless Revolution” is transforming the industry. According to Nikki DeSilva, marketing communications manager for Teletrol, wireless is the next generation and where everyone is going. “The industry will change and become much more smart,” she said.

Ken Sinclair, editor of, agreed. On his website, he writes in his wrap-up of the show, “…It became clear that our building automation industry is rapidly entering the new field of dynamic information technology (IT). Rapid convergence is taking place with Internet and Intranet solutions. IT solutions abound with browser-based everything, along with fully implemented wireless to Internet to business models for our service industry.”


Product Roundup

The future is now, and here are the latest building automation products to get you there:

Alerton (Redmond, WA) de-buted several new BACnet® compliant products: the Web-based browser WEBtalk™, the VLX, and the BACtalk Integrator (BTI) at its booth. WEBTalk allows complete access to any BACnet-based equipment via a standard Web browser, according to Melinda K. Bartee, company spokesperson. One key benefit, said Bartee, is that it allows users to see real-time data of the building. The VLX base unit is designed for equipment control in large point count environments, such as central plant equipment and systems, large air-handling units, motor control centers, and large fan systems. It features up to eight different expansion modules that provide all equipment inputs and outputs. The BTI, according to Bartee, is the next-generation BACnet-compliant supervisory interface and global control device. Key features include four MS/TP LANs for connection to MS/TO devices, a built-in modem, and a 10/100 Ethernet connection. The device is also IP capable for interoperability across campuses or continents, she said.

The Evolution Series™ was featured at American Auto-Matrix® (AAM) (Export, PA), which, according to Carrie E. Chiea, company spokesperson, is designed to be a smart building control system. Key features include generation-to-generation compatibility, interoperability, an expandable design, a graphical interface, and Motorola processors. AAM also debuted its Smart Building Security™ product line, which provides interoperability and a new card access control line.

Automated Logic® Corporation (Kennesaw, GA) showcased its Web-based WebCTRL™, which, according to Troy Maeder, oem division manager, “is a true client server application.” WebCTRL is written in Java, the Internet standard language, and supports BACnet, LonWorks®, MODBUS, and SNMP. “Anyone in the world can call up information as Internet appliances can be used to monitor buildings,” said Maeder. “It frees people up to manage their building.” WebCTRL also can operate with a JDBC-compliant database, including MS Access, MS SQL Server, Oracle®, and IBM® DB2.

Building Automation Products, Inc. (BAPI) (Cross Plains, WI) debuted its Echelon combination temperature/humidity sensor, which features the LonWorks communication protocol, said Bonnie Sesolak, marketing manager. One key feature is the LCD, which is designed to toggle between temperature and humidity at a user-adjustable rate. Other features include the ability for the user to replace humidity elements in the field without the need for any recalibration, plus the ability to specify the type of sensor, such as thermistor, RTD, and semiconductor, required for the direct temperature input.

Networked Building Systems (NBS) by Cimetrics (Richmond, BC, Canada) debuted at the show. The technology features a combination of networking hardware and software systems that allows communication within a building’s systems, (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, fire-alarm, lighting control, security systems, etc.) and/or across multiple building systems into one central location, according to John James, director of sales. He said these networks allow for the integration of building management systems with information technology (IT) systems to provide centralized monitoring, control, and management for a collection of buildings.

Circon Systems Corporation (Richmond, BC, Canada) featured its new variable-speed drive LonWorks communication card (VSD-2000) that is LonMark certified for the GE Fuji drive family, said John Halliday, product manager. He said the VSD-2000 makes GE Fuji drive products interoperable with any of the company’s products, including hvac, lighting, card access, energy management, and any LonWorks-based product from third-party vendors. The company also showcased its WebControl™ 2.0 software, designed to allow users to access the system through the Internet. The company said it also allows users to link any Circon product as well as third-party devices to any IP-based LAN, WAN, VPN, intranet, and the Internet.

The Connector® 1000 Series, by Coactive® Networks (Sausa-lito, CA), is designed to allow users to add an instant Web interface to their control systems as well as receive alarms, logs, and real-time data, through LonWorks. One key feature, according to Sonia Gomez, senior marketing manager, is the ability to route twisted pair and powerline from the same box. The Internet capability allows for remote access to devices in a commercial building, and the LAN capability allows for remote monitoring in multiple buildings, she said.

Delta Controls (Surrey, BC, Canada) highlighted Orca™ (Open Real-Time Control Archi-tecture) system. The Orca is a series of native BACnet controllers for hvac, lighting, and access coordination, said Kurt Graves, B.Sc. business development manager, international markets. Users have the ability to navigate and control multiple vendor products using a drag and drop feature. Also featured was the BACstat™, which, according to Graves, is the first thermostat controller that “speaks” native BACnet.

A pair of “smart transceivers” by Echelon (Sunnyvale, CA) debuted at the show. According to Steve Nguyen, director of corporate marketing, both the FT3120 and FT3150 integrate a Neuron® 3120® or Neuron 3150® core, respectively, with a free topology, twisted pair transceiver to create a smart transceiver on a chip. The key benefit for users is the ability to decrease board space while being able to add more products. According to Nguyen, both the FT3120 and FT3150 are a lower cost way to add more products and are ideal for “cost-sensitive” projects.

Invensys Building Systems (Loves Park, IL) unveiled its MicroNet Express controller, which is designed for the smaller commercial building or office. Robert E. Bailey, manager of marketing communications, said the new controller offers “intelligent automation at a reasonable price.” MicroNet is designed to provide proportional and proportional plus integral control for heating and cooling applications such as rooftops, heat pumps, fancoils, unit ventilators, and similar equipment. It is LonMark compliant and can function in either standalone mode or as part of a local operating network, he said.

A number of new products by KMC Controls (New Paris, IN) debuted at the show, according to Douglas Getting, director of marketing. These include the Web-LAN™ controller; two new control set actuators, a 300 lb and 150 lb; REACT, which stands for Real Time Energy Analysis and Con-sumption Trending; and a sight-glass monitor, which, according to Getting, provides the earliest possible leak detection and is currently undergoing EPA certification.

Novar® Controls (Copley, OH) unveiled two upgraded products, Savvy™ and Lingo™. Savvy is a single-building control processor for monitoring and controlling lighting and hvac systems, comes with a remote touch screen, and has increased storage capacity over previous versions, said the company. Lingo is a building control interface that monitors energy usage, is available with a remote touch screen, and is designed for large and multi-site buildings.

The Saphir, a standalone control device, was presented by Siemens (Buffalo Grove, IL). According to Brian Keith, oem engineer and project manager, the Saphir features an optional integrated Web card which is hosted in the controller. The Saphir saves time because other controllers have to be logged onto the network, said Keith. Typical applications include building automation systems and air-handling units.

Solidyne Corporation (Rolling Meadows, IL) debuted a couple of new products, said Adam Erturk, company spokesperson. The IZAC (Intelligent Zone Automation Control) VAV is a variable-air volume controller that can be integrated into existing systems, thus providing cost effectiveness, Erturk said.

Version 2.0 of the MS1800 building automation and energy management system was showcased by Staefa Control Systems (Buffalo, Grove, IL). This updated system now supports Windows® 95, 98, 2000, and NT. The company said its system is designed for a wide range of applications, from small sites using Windows NT or Ethernet capabilities to large installations needing up to 221 nodes. The software uses version 3.1 firmware in the controllers, which is designed to improve the performance of the system.

T.A.C. (Carrollton, TX) featured a few new products and features at the show. According to Melissa Carter, company spokes-person, its Network Integrator Program is a product sales program for members of the Echelon Open Systems Alliance Network Integrators. Also featured were the I/NET 2000®, a control system designed with full integration of environmental control, access control, and energy management capabilities; and the Vista® 2000 software package, designed to control, check, and analyze the daily operation and economical running of a building.

The eBuilding facility automation system by Teletrol Systems Inc. (Manchester, NH) was unveiled at the show. According to Nikki DeSilva, marketing communications manager, eBuilding is a Web-based network controller that not only uses the BACnet protocol, but also standard Internet protocols like xml. Users can access the system through the Internet and can use it with other products. The system will collect and aggregate data on building occupancy, energy usage, and equipment maintenance status from sites around the world, she said.

Tridium (Richmond, VA) showcased its Niagara Frame-work™ v. 2.1 and Vykon™ software and control products. Niagara Framework 2.1 is a universal software infrastructure that allows companies to build custom, Web-enabled applications for accessing, automating, and controlling “smart” devices in real-time over the Internet, according to Dennis Tuft, vice president, Marketing. New features include JACE 5, an embedded Java Application Controller; and enhancements to the WebSuper-visor and WorkPlace Pro, which are designed to enable more complete support for LonWorks and BACnet devices, he said. Vykon is the first Web-enabled application powered by the Niagara Frame-work and supports LonWorks, BACnet, or other proprietary systems, said Tuft.

Both the BACnet Manufactur-ers Association (BMA) (Boston, MA) and the LonMark Interoperability Association were also well represented. The BMA, according to Franklin Cooper, executive director, has been working on a testing lab for more than a year, and hopes to begin soliciting products in a couple of months for BACnet compliance. The Lon-Mark Interoperability Association also has had a busy year, according to Liza S. Brocker, manager, Public Relations and Marketing Communications. The association hired an engineer to perform certification testing in Europe. The association plans to release 50 more certified products soon, bringing the total to 300. Membership rose 25% last year with installers and integrators joining to share information, Brocker said.


Publication date: 03/19/2001