Open Systems

For many years Economy has been working with a wide variety of control systems. We have found that proprietary systems do not give you the freedom to choose other products or share technology with other products. Proprietary systems do not communicate with each other without costly adapters and / or programming. Open system technology is the opposite of a proprietary "closed" system. Open technology allows many products to communicate on the same platform, therefore opening an unparalleled realm of possibilities. You have the ability to choose between many manufacturers, which provides a more competitive market and higher standards of quality and reliability.

With all the control systems we have dealt with, we do our best to leave the customer with as much control of their facility as possible. Unfortunately, a lot of proprietary systems can make this a difficult proposition.

Now with the LonWorks platform we have solutions to the many problems in building and industrial control systems. There are multitudes of manufacturers that have chosen this platform as the standard. The IBI (Intelligent Buildings Institute) an international trade association for commercial, institutional and industrial buildings formally endorses LonWorks as "an open protocol for building automation". ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers) has formally voted to incorporate LonWorks technology in the BACnet (building automation) standard. This has become the ANSI standard (ANSI/CEA-709.1-B).

Many building automation systems have been targeted exclusively for the HVAC systems of the building, now with Honeywell products and the LonWorks platform we can accomplish complete building automation. Including lighting control, card access, elevators, and much more. Honeywell products are LonMark certified and interoperable.

Our main goal and focus at Economy is providing the best service for our customers. With technology advancing at such a rapid rate, we feel we have the best system that will keep up with technology and give us the opportunity to use the best products available. Therefore our customers are not being held back by systems that are costly to upgrade and do not communicate with other components in the complete building automation scenario.

DDC (direct digital control) is the foundation for an efficient and well-balanced building system. The growth of DDC is reaching ultimate highs since people are demanding better system management through energy savings, cleaner air, fewer repairs, peace of mind, and more productivity from employees.


Open Systems Continued

The technology has its origins with chip designs, power line and twisted pair, signaling technology, routers, network management software, and other products from Echelon Corporation. In 1999 the communications protocol (then known as LonTalk) was submitted to ANSI and accepted as a standard for control networking (ANSI/CEA-709.1-B). Echelon's power line and twisted pair signaling technology was also submitted to ANSI for standardization and accepted. Since then, ANSI/CEA-709.1 has been accepted as the basis for IEEE 1473-L (in-train controls), AAR electro-pneumatic braking systems for freight trains, IFSF (European petrol station control), SEMI (semiconductor equipment manufacturing), and in 2005 as EN 14908 (European building automation standard). The protocol is also one of several data link/physical layers of the BACnet ASHRAE/ANSI standard for building automation.

China ratified the technology as a national controls standard, GB/Z 20177.1-2006 and as a building and intelligent community standard, GB/T 20299.4-2006; and in 2007 CECED, the European Committee of Domestic Equipment Manufacturers, adopted the protocol as part of its Household Appliances Control and Monitoring – Application Interworking Specification (AIS) standards.

During 2008 ISO and IEC have granted the communications protocol, twisted pair signaling technology, power line signaling technology, and Internet Protocol (IP) compatibility standard numbers ISO/IEC 14908-1, -2, -3, and -4.

By 2006 approximately 60 million devices were installed with LonWorks technology. Manufacturers in a variety of industries including building, home, transportation, utility, and industrial automation have adopted the platform as the basis for their product and service offerings. Statistics as to the number of locations using the LonWorks technology are scarce, but it is known that products and applications built on top of the platform include such diverse functions as embedded machine control, municipal and highway street lighting, heating and air conditioning systems, intelligent electricity metering, subway train control, stadium lighting and speaker control, security systems, fire detection and suppression, and newborn location monitoring and alarming.
Two physical-layer signaling technologies, twisted pair "free topology" and power line carrier, are typically included in each of the standards created around the LonWorks technology. The two-wire layer operates at 78 kbit/s using differential Manchester encoding, while the power line achieves either 5.4 or 3.6 kbit/s, depending on frequency. [1]

Additionally, the LonWorks platform uses an affiliated IP tunneling standard -- ISO/IEC 14908-4[2] (ANSI/CEA-852[3]) -- in use by a number of manufacturers[4] to connect the devices on previously deployed and new LonWorks platform-based networks to IP-aware applications or remote network-management tools. Many LonWorks platform-based control applications are being implemented with some sort of IP integration, either at the UI/application level or in the controls infrastructure. This is accomplished with web services or IP-routing products available on the market.

An Echelon Corporation-designed IC comprised of several, 8-bit processors, the "Neuron chip", was initially the only way to implement a LonTalk protocol node and is used in the large majority of LonWorks platform-based hardware. Since 1999, the protocol has been available for general-purpose processors[5]: a port of the ANSI/CEA-709.1 standard to IP-based or 32-bit chips.

One of the keys to the interoperability of the system is the standardisation of the variables used to describe physical things to LonWorks, this standards list is maintained by LonMark International and each standard is known as Standard Network Variable Types (SNVTs, pronounced "sniv-its") so for example a thermostat using the temperature SNVT is expected to produce a number between zero and 65535 that equates to a temperature between -274 and 6279.5 degrees Celsius.

Additional Links:

Echelon Corporation

LonMark International


IEC - LonWorks Technology tutorial

LON IP/Web services integrations

DTI - Examples of mixed Ethernet and LonWorks architectures

LonWorks case study

Bright Core

Bright Core Middleware Demo