Interoperability: the future is using gateways

May 2002 Integrated Solutions

Building automation systems have been evolving over the past 25 years from the mixture of pneumatic controls, relays, sensors and actuators of the past to the direct digital controls of the present. Many manufacturers had developed their own protocol to enable their own devices to communicate with each other.

In many buildings interoperability sometimes would mean that the front-end controls for the various systems in the building all terminated in the same room. It was up to the facility manager to study each unique control system to learn what was going on in the building.

Communications challenges in building automation today are:

* Various systems in a building must communicate with each other or to a common control system.

* No common protocol in the industry.

* No single hardware supplier can provide devices for all factory functions.

* Real world is not a controller speaking only to a chain of slave devices.

* Data must be accessible at different points for different uses.

The various control systems in a plant or building can no longer afford to operate independently. Reduced manpower, increased energy costs, increased security needs and enhanced personnel demands means that the building systems must work together to provide the optimum environment for the people and equipment within the structure. For instance, in the case of a fire or smoke alarm, it might be important to know who had access to the area, what equipment is currently operating in the area, and whether or not safety systems are activated. If there are hazardous gases in the area, it would be prudent to know what gases are flowing and that they have been remotely shut off. Also, adjustment of the ventilation system in the affected area and the adjacent areas can reduce smoke damage costs. None of these ancillary features are mandatory features for the containment and suppression of the fire, but are important features in the operation and safety of the building.

Thus, there are many reasons for interoperability of building control systems, including:

* Reduced installation costs.

* Enhanced energy management.

* Improvement of safety and security of plant, personnel and equipment.

* Single-seat user interface.

How does the integrator get these various devices to be interoperable? It would be nice if all devices used a common communication protocol, but reality is that with the large number of legacy devices worldwide, plus the many different protocols available today, a single common protocol is not usually a choice. Also, for most devices there is usually only one protocol output available. A gateway system as illustrated in Figure 1 can seamlessly integrate systems together.

Figure 1
Figure 1

One such gateway that is widely used in the building automation industry is the EST Gateway. The basic idea of the Gateway is that it is a bridge between two or more different devices. These two devices can be using the same protocol or different protocols, or even different communication busses. As the data is fetched from a server node by the EST Gateway, it is stored in a data array at a specified location. The data is then accessible by a client node at any time.

The use of the EST Gateway means that all information available through a device communications port is now accessible by the building automation system. As an example, Figure 1, shows the wide range of information available from an EST3 fire panel from Edwards Systems Technology.

Interoperability is no longer a dream of the future, it is here today. While it is not simply plug and play, it will meet the integrator's need to share data between devices and enjoy unified control. Legacy systems do not need to be left out of an integrated Ethernet based system. Using gateways enables the integrator to bring in legacy devices and enable interoperability between diverse systems. The owner can select the system and device that meets their specific need and not worry about integration by using a gateway to link devices together.





Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page



Further reading:

MySecurityApp for SME security firms
Surveillance Integrated Solutions
Solution House Software has introduced MySecurityApp, a platform that expedites security operations management for startup and growing security companies by delivering a comprehensive and user-friendly mobile app designed to simplify setting up and growing security companies’ operations.

Read more...
MySecurityApp for SME security firms
Surveillance Integrated Solutions
Solution House Software has introduced MySecurityApp, a platform that expedites security operations management for startup and growing security companies by delivering a comprehensive and user-friendly mobile app designed to simplify setting up and growing security companies’ operations.

Read more...
Card tapping turns expensive with new scam
Integrated Solutions
The ability to tap-and-go makes life easier and more convenient, but Richard Frost, Product Head at Armata, warns that it may cost consumers more than they bargained for.

Read more...
Future trends for electronic safety and security in mining
Fang Fences & Guards Mining (Industry) Integrated Solutions AI & Data Analytics
The mining industry is ever evolving, driven by technological advancements and the growing need for enhanced safety and security measures, with significant innovation seen in turnkey electronic security for mining operations.

Read more...
Unlocking enhanced security for mining
Mining (Industry) Integrated Solutions
In the dynamic landscape of African mining, security remains of paramount concern as threats evolve and challenges persist, and mining companies seek innovative solutions to safeguard their operations, assets, and personnel.

Read more...
A constant armed struggle
Technews Publishing XtraVision Editor's Choice Integrated Solutions Mining (Industry) IoT & Automation
SMART Security Solutions asked a few people involved in servicing mines to join us for a virtual round table and give us their insights into mine security today. A podcast of the discussion will be released shortly-stay tuned.

Read more...
Access and identity in 2024
Technews Publishing Gallagher HID Global IDEMIA Ideco Biometrics Enkulu Technologies neaMetrics Editor's Choice Access Control & Identity Management Integrated Solutions
SMART Security Solutions hosted a round table discussion with various players in the access and identity market, to find out what they experienced in the last year, as well as their expectations for 2024.

Read more...
Advanced security solution for high-risk areas
Secutel Technologies Surveillance Integrated Solutions
The need for a sophisticated intrusion detection system is paramount when faced with persistent security challenges, particularly in isolated battery rooms or high-risk areas prone to vandalism, cable theft, and battery theft.

Read more...
Vumacam and NAVIC enhance SafeCity initiative
Integrated Solutions Security Services & Risk Management
Vumacam and NAVIC, two of South Africa's most respected surveillance technology and vehicle intelligence providers, are proud to announce an alliance that will greatly expand the coverage and impact of the SafeCity initiative across the country.

Read more...
Gallagher Security’s achieves SOC2 Type 2 recertification
Gallagher News & Events Integrated Solutions Infrastructure
Gallagher has achieved System and Organization Controls (SOC2 Type 2) recertification after a fresh audit of the cloud-hosted services of its integrated security solution, Command Centre. The recertification was achieved on 21 December 2023.

Read more...