I’ve been doing a lot of work lately with Johnson Controls Metasys Building Automation and Control System. It looks kind of like an HMI but it’s a lot more. It brings all sorts of building data together, wired data, wireless, sensors, actuators, systems and all sorts of other things. It is a data collector, data organizer and IT web interface for all kinds of building devices.
JCI through its integration and service division uses Metasys on lots of big Building Automation jobs. Hospitals, universities, business centers, large story buildings and more. They recently were awarded the contract for the Empire State Building. I imagine that you’ll find Metasys there too.
In these situations, Metasys pulls all the relevant systems together for easy access in one place. Metasys will have information on the Elevators, Fire Control and Alarm System, Access and Security systems, Lighting Controls, HVAC and more. It’s the place to go to find out what going on in your building.
If you’re a small device vendor or Building Automation System Integrator, it’s likely that you’ll need to connect your devices to Metasys. I just talked with a small drives vendor for example that needs to connect to 2 drives into Metasys as part of a small fountain in the lobby of the building.
Doing that can be challenging. You, of course, have the cost challenge. Everything and I mean everything is being commoditized and commodities are cheap. This guys drive systems are commodities and price is one of his best selling weapons.
But cheap does not extend to the network interfaces. There are several common ways of moving data to Metasys. One is Lonworks. Lon has been around for a long time now and has made some significant market penetration. Lon operates as a peer network with network variables called SNVTs (pronounced snivets). There’s also N2, JCI’s traditional network interface that has been around forever. And there’s BACnet. BACnet provides an object oriented approach to Building Automation networking.
Somehow my Building Automation System Integrator friend has to find a way to make his drive data (Modbus Registers) available on one of these three more common networks where they can be easily accessed by Metasys. That’s not a trivial task and requires more consideration than you might think. For example, you not only have to move the data but convert its byte ordering, precision and length. And then you need to supply strings that describe each data point and the units for each. No small task.
Luckily, my SI Drive guy has the RTA 460MMBS. With this device he can easily configure the Modbus registers to present to Metasys, specify how to transfer them and add the string data that describes them. It’s a perfect solution for that daunting challenge.
Metasys is a dominant factor in Building Automation. Luckily, system integrators now have an exceptional tool to move data from all these other kinds of systems and devices into it.