Advantech’s 2004 Building Automation Solutions are “Redefining the Value Proposition” |

Advantech’s 2004 Building Automation Solutions are “Redefining the Value Proposition”

January 202004
Advantech’s 2004 Building Automation Solutions are “Redefining the Value Proposition”
Cincinnati, Ohio (January 16, 2004) - Advantech Corporation, Industrial Automation Group has been a major manufacturer in the Industrial Automation arena since 1983, now enjoying a position of dominance in that field. In 2002, we made a commitment to redefine internally the value equation, as it then existed in the Building Automation field, bringing our experience and technological benefits to bear on this “new” industry. What followed has been an in-depth analysis of Building Automation, its strengths, areas where the need for improvement was apparent and its overall “value proposition”.

During the course of our analysis, we have determined that there are a number of emerging trends in personal computing as a whole which are having a direct impact on the Building Automation field as we enter what is, in essence, a new era:

Perhaps the most obvious change in Building Automation over the past decade has been a steady evolution toward open protocols and interoperability. At Advantech, we have always taken interoperability seriously. For several years now, we have supported numerous protocols, including Modbus RTU and Modbus TCP, industry standards in the industrial control field. With our entry into commercial Building Automation, we have recognized the need for a more open environment in communication protocols and have developed our Building Automation-specific control devices utilizing BACnet/IP at the system level and BACnet/MS/TP at the subsystem or device level. In addition, we support communication to LONtalk-based devices from our system-level controllers, facilitating the use of other manufacturers’ LONworks and BACnet hardware at all levels. We are unique in that we can support all three major automation protocols: LONtalk, BACnet and Modbus, at the controller level.

Web Access
Another major trend in the Building Automation field at this time is the movement toward richer, while at the same time less complex, operator access. System users, especially at the end user level, expect to be able to interface with, query and make simple changes to their installed systems using a simple web browser. All of the field-level controllers we make at Advantech have the ability to communicate with the end user via web server interface, requiring only a standard browser to communicate. This interface is affected through an integrated capability in the local controller in the field rather than through an external or additional “web server” device and requires no additional hardware or software beyond that which is supplied with the standard device.

Local Operator Interface
Additionally, many of Advantech’s control devices offer a local touchscreen interface. This, of course, is a decided improvement in terms of ease of operation versus PDA or PC plug-in requirements. The richness of the images or “pages” of information presented on the touchscreen is totally in the domain of the developer. There is an existing library of symbols and images supplied with each development package of Advantech’s graphical user interface software, designated “Advantech Studio”. Mixing and matching these symbols and images allows the developer to tailor the richness of the presentation to the requirements of the user.

Programming Environment
For the past decade or more, there have been two schools of thought regarding the most effective control programming environment. At Advantech, our approach has been that both environments, the textual and the graphical, have their merits. Generally, programmers, or developers are most comfortable with the method of developing control strategies that they originally learned. As a result, our approach has been to provide both options in our configuration and development software. Within the framework of a given control sequence, structured text, ladder logic, Booleian logic and block programming can all be utilized and can impact and enhance one another. Or, there is always the option to use any one of those methods from start to finish. We have removed ourselves from the “line vs. block” debate by offering the best of all worlds. We have also provided, with our configuration and control programming software, libraries of ready-made control sequences for such mechanical equipment as rooftop units, variable air volume boxes and built-up air handling units. The developer has the choice of utilizing these sequences or writing his or her own.

Stand-alone Modularity
Some buildings are large, some buildings are small, and many facilities are somewhere in between. The control requirements for some facilities are much more stringent than for others. The one thing all buildings have in common, however, is the need for accurate and reliable control. At Advantech, each of our devices operates on a stand-alone basis, with its own built-in CPU and real time clock. This allows for complete modularity in system design. Whether there is a requirement for control of one rooftop unit or several hundred (or even thousand) HVAC units or boxes, Advantech offers a wholly modular and ready-made solution to the application.

Legacy Upgrade Issues
As the Building Automation industry becomes more mature, and generations of installed equipment are supplanted by newer, more capable (and in many cases less costly) systems, legacy issues have arisen. In many cases, the new system being installed in a facility has not been able to communicate or share data with the pre-existing hardware, especially if it came from another manufacturer. In some cases, there have been serious legacy issues with equipment and systems supplied by the same manufacturer. At Advantech we have no legacy issues to deal with because we have been standards-based in our protocols since our inception in 1983. In fact, we manufacture a number of gateways and protocol converters, which allow other manufacturers to communicate and share data with their own legacy products.

The “Value Proposition”
The decrease in the cost of processing power over the past decade has brought about a revolution in the pricing of Building Automation systems. This broad change has allowed manufacturers to provide much lower control costs on a per-point basis to their customers. One obvious benefit of these lower costs per point has been an across-the-board change in the value equation for Building Automation, especially when contrasted with the ever-rising cost of energy. Viewed from a simple payback perspective, electronic control systems have never made more sense than they do now. From a broader value perspective, the suite of capabilities and functionality provided by a Building Automation system has improved exponentially and continues to give back to the owner at a greater and greater rate. Advantech Automation is dedicated to providing the most cost effective, and competitive, solution to the value equation in Building Automation. This based not only on price, but also on operator “friendliness”, flexibility, scalability and interoperability as well.

At Advantech, everything we do is standards based. We have learned interoperability from ten years’ experience in an industry, which has demanded open protocols since the early 1990s. Our operator interface capabilities are unequalled and our development environment is open to all users, whether they are accustomed to ladder logic, structured text or graphical “block” programming. Without legacy issues of our own, we are a pioneer in the development of legacy gateways and protocol converters for many other manufacturers. Our field devices communicate in “native” BACnet and we support LONtalk at the controller level. We offer the most operator-friendly devices in the industry. And, best of all, we do all of these things at a highly competitive price.

Talk to an authorized Advantech System Integrator and redefine the “Value Proposition” for yourself.

Founded in 1983, the Industrial Automation Group of Advantech Corporation is the only complete PC-based Industrial Automation Solution Manufacturer offering products such as Industrial PCs, Workstations, Panel PCs, Flat Panel Monitors, Heavy Environmental PCs, Customized PCs, Single Board Computers, Data Acquisition & Control Devices and Web-enabled products for a wide array of industries. Drawing on the talents of more than 1,800 people, Advantech operates an extensive sales and marketing network in 16 countries and 35 major cities to deliver fast time-to-market services to our worldwide customers. Today Advantech offers over 700 products and solutions, adding 30 new products each year. US operations for the Industrial Automation Group are based in Cincinnati, OH.


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