Echelon Corp., a control networking company for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), has introduced a converged controller for lighting, building automation, and Internet of Things applications. Incorporating feedback from its customers, Echelon says it developed the SmartServer 2.2 on open standards, allowing customers to easily add Internet of Things (IoT) applications and connect a broad range of devices for a more robust, integrated system.
The SmartServer 2.2 supports power line communication meshing, which can help maximize the capacity of a single controller. As a result, fewer segment controllers are needed, resulting in greater cost-efficiency for customers. According to Echelon, the device enables the integration of a wide range of lighting, building and IoT devices at greater distances. Thus, customers can expand the scale and the performance of their connected networks. The controller also allows the implementation of standalone networks.
SmartServer 2.2 works as a universal gateway and controller for multiple protocols including LON, BACnet and Modbus. Echelon says that the controller gives customers a broader selection of devices that can be easily integrated into, and managed through one head-end user interface.
The firm says that performance enhancements reduce commissioning time and increase the responsiveness of the Web pages that interact with the converged controller. Peer-to-peer connection capability for all applications enables integrators to use SmartServer 2.2 to form networks that rapidly respond to events. For example, parking garage lights can be programmed to automatically illuminate when a car triggers a motion sensor in that particular location, This automatic lighting can reduce energy consumption and make the garage both safer and more inviting.
The company notes that enhanced connected networks grant customers the flexibility to customize a mix of applications. One example that the company says would be possible with its controller and networking systems, would be integrating parking lot lighting with building automation for simplified installation, management, and maintenance.
Another possibility that the company mentioned, which goes beyond lighting and HVAC control for improving productivity, is tying sound masking to the operation of loud and industrial machines to enhance productivity.
A third example that the company gives is the interfacing between two or more emergency systems for improved safety. In this example, a building’s call boxes and intercom can be integrated into the building automation infrastructure for a customized security solution. In the event of an emergency evacuation, all doors could automatically unlock, and the employees can be notified internally. Additional notification can be communicated externally to first responders for a safe and rapid exit by building occupants.
While it is not clear if these last two examples have ever been implemented, the idea is clear. The new controllers and their networking capabilities can bring virtually unlimited potential and possibilities for IoT innovation and building automation.
“Having the ability to offer a solution that crosses both building automation and lighting control will give our customers more options with regard to the types of systems they can create that help support their overall business objectives. For instance, customers that have large buildings and large parking lots can now have a single control for the entire system. This can save them lots of valuable manpower,” said Alan Slabodkin, Vice President, Western Allied. “The integrated solution can also enable us to expand our customer base because we’ll be able to offer a wider range of customized, automated systems that address the needs of new and different markets.”
“The insight we have into the challenges that our partners and their customers are trying to address helped us recognize that one integrated, scalable network that they can use to manage their systems and applications would be a huge advantage,” said Rick Schuett, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales, Echelon. “Customers now have a platform on which they can easily add on smart, Internet-based applications and dynamically adjust systems to continuously meet their ever changing and growing business demands.”
SmartServer 2.2 is now available. Versions of SmartServer 2.2 are available with support for the two most common communications media for Local Operating Networks (LON), which are power line (PL) carrier using existing power lines for communication and free topology (FT) twisted pair. All SmartServer versions also support Modbus TCP devices and Modbus RTU devices. A driver is available from ConnectEx that adds support for BACnet/IP and BACnet MS/TP devices.