Chris Irwin, VP of sales Europe and Africa at Distech Controls
It has been 30 years since I began working in the Building Automation industry. The industry has transformed dramatically over that time, but last couple of years demonstrated the greatest change due to the exponential growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) market.
Over the year at Distech Controls, I have observed a significant shift in the UK and French markets with regards to how are building management system (BMS) is being specified for new projects. Until now, the conventional BMS paradigm has been serial network connected fan coil units or VAV controllers using twisted pair cables in the ceiling. These are then connected via an IP gateway to the IP backbone network, which to which the main plant controllers and supervisory software are also connected.
Increasingly in the UK, BACnet MSTP is the specified serial network and a Tridium JACE, or equivalent, serves as the IP gateway, communicating via BACnet IP to the supervisory software. However, this is changing as IP-enabled controllers now allow devices to be connected directly to an IP network. This approach simplifies system engineering and opens up the potential for much easier integration with IoT sensors and other building related applications. For example, smartphone apps now provide occupants with a single interface for a wide range of functions, ranging from control of the local environment (temperature, lighting etc.) to room booking, car parking, cafeteria menus and local transport information.
Such integration can now be achieved directly with the use of a RESTful API interface. Just in case you are not already familiar with REST (REpresentational State Transfer), it is a standard way to enable IT web services to interact with software applications. With this level of integration, taking a unified approach will ensure that we can actively enhance and maintain the system infrastructure during the building life cycle.
The new Distech Controls ECLYPSETM controller platform is an example of the new breed of BMS devices. It not only offers communication using open standard BMS protocols such as BACnet and Modbus leveraging wired and wireless IP connectivity, but also a RESTful API for direct integration with business applications; such applications include room booking, asset management and other IoT integrations.
The future is shaping up as one where ALL the controls in a building are accessible via IP and part of a more integrated “IoT”-style system, with many disparate devices connected to each other and to the Cloud via IP.
Would your BMS benefit from being eclipsed by ECLYPSE?