June 2005

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The Growth of Open Systems

We see many projects where two, three, and sometime four
protocols are fed through the same global controller.

Mike O'Donnell
Senior Product Manager, Marketing

Exciting changes have occurred in our industry over the past few years. Specification and installation of systems incorporating the BACnet or Echelon protocols are rapidly gaining momentum against proprietary protocols. These systems were once too complicated, and costly to apply practically on all projects. It’s now become commonplace to apply these products to reduce cost and increase occupant comfort. We see many projects where two, three, and sometime four protocols are fed through the same global controller.

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The growth of the open systems movement has been fuelled by two main industry changes.

The first major change is in the Building Managers (global controllers) offered now by many Automation Manufacturers. These new generations of global controllers are packed with features. Most notably however, they incorporate simplified toolsets which eliminate many of the challenges associated with integrating/intermingling these open protocols. Better still, this new generation of controllers eliminates the choice of which protocol to use, BACnet or Echelon are optional, and can co-exist on the same BAS system. With these changes to the global controllers, engineers are free to make controller and peripheral selection based on performance and cost rather than catalog and system offerings.

The second major change we’ve seen is a direct result of the first. Field devices were at one time almost exclusively the same brand as that of the Global Controller. This has now becoming a thing of the past. Companies are offering more intelligent, easy to integrate field devices. These devices are often application specific, yet configurable enough to cover “most used” applications. Controllers are pre-packaged with labor saving features, which simplify their installation, set-up and commissioning:

  • Standard industry wiring enumeration’s (i.e. Y,W,R,G),

  • Simplified local addressing methods.

  • Auto-Baud, this feature will align the field controller’s communication speed with the existing networks.

Many of these new controllers are offered as “wall devices” rather than the traditional controller /sensor combinations inherently saving installation labor.

We are sure to see further cost reductions through the logical evolution of today’s more intelligent field devices and controllers. Lower cost solutions combined with a shorter turn around time to achieve project ROI will ultimately succeed in accelerating widespread market acceptance and growth.


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