September 2008

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EMAIL INTERVIEW  Bob Ofenstein & Ken Sinclair

Bob Ofenstein, Cimetrics

BACnet and OPC

Iíll take an order of BACnet, with a side of OPC to go please

New Products
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Sinclair:  Bob, it was fantastic to see you out at Connectivity week this year. I noticed that you spent a great deal of time with the folks from MatrikonOPC. As I understand things, Cimetrics and MatrikonOPC worked together to produce an OPC server which is fully BACnet and BACstac compliant. Can you tell me a little about the project?

Ofenstein:  If you look at the current trends in the world there is one common theme. Knowledge is powerful, and those who have more useful knowledge stay ahead of the curve. Throughout the 90ís Cimetrics saw a significant take up and interest in the use of BACnet in North America as well as numerous world markets. Building Automation System vendors realized that when it comes to interoperability of systems, the BACnet standard dominates in the building Automation vertical. Now imagine for a moment if we took the best attributes of the process control world communications (OPC) and combined that technology with BACnet. The result is a communications mechanism that opens huge doors to BACnet device users. Users can now easily integrate the robust tools in the OPC arsenal directly into their building automation systems. Users can take data into Excel, trenders, historians, or visualization tools with ease.

Sinclair:  Why do you think that OPC has been gaining popularity within the Building Automation Control Vertical?

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Ofenstein:  I have been seeing quite a few industrial applications that are interested in including HVAC data into their process. These are the situations where a limited number of BACnet points are being included. The other use case is where people are using SCADA workstations and visualization packages in Building Automation because these vendors have added additional features unique to the BAS vertical. Some of the SCADA packages with drag and drop graphics have proven themselves to be a very flexible workstation alternative outside of the pure industrial applications.

Sinclair:  What are some of the other advantages to using OPC and BACnet together?

Ofenstein:  We find that the installation company has already chosen their technology due to existing equipment or for business reasons. But, since both BACnet and OPC are well known standards, they still offer the flexibility of being able to create larger systems using both. Imagine being able to create an architecture where data is collected from HVAC systems, elevators, security systems, via BACnet, then shared with any of the interested parties using Web Services for the IT department, and OPC connecting to an HMI like Wonderware or Indusoft. Users are able to take advantage of all of the real-time visualization packages available from the BACnet world or the OPC world to monitor buildings that are geographically separated by a few miles, or a few thousand miles. Due to open standards like BACnet and OPC, building automation professionals now have all of the subsystems required to control and monitor all aspects of both commercial and industrial facilities.


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