2009 AHR EXPO, January 26-28 Chicago's McCormick Place

AHR EXPO Still Strong

 
By Bill Lydon - Contributing Editor
 
 
 
The 61st AHR EXPO was among its biggest and best events of all-time with approximately 35,000 attendees and more than 19,000 exhibitor personnel for a total of 54,000.  The show featured over 1,900 exhibiting companies and now ranks as the second largest AHR EXPO, just behind the 2006 Chicago Show, in terms of number of exhibiting companies (1,911). The 2009 event also ranks as the fourth largest AHR EXPO of all-time in terms of square footage (396,048 net square feet). Since 1930, the AHR EXPO (www.ahrexpo.com) continues to be the largest Heating Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration (HVAC/R) exposition and is endorsed by HVAC/R industry associations. The Exposition is co-sponsored by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). The Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) is an honorary sponsor. ASHRAE's winter meeting is also held concurrently with the AHR EXPO. The AHR EXPO’s is endorsed by thirty-one organizations.
 
Green Focus
 
A number of ‘green’ products were displayed - building on the ‘green’ focus of last year’s show in New York.  There were several green seminars and sessions offered to attendees including:
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star Program hosted an information booth and conducted an educational session.
  • The Partnership for Environmental Leadership's HVAC Mobile Green Classroom was on the AHR EXPO Show Floor. 
  • The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) presented a full-day LEED educational program.
  • The Green Mechanical Council (GMC) provided two free educational programs.
  • The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) offered several seminars on a variety of important ‘green’ topics. 
 
 
 
 
 
Overall Impressions
 
Embedded Intelligence
More intelligence is moving into smaller field devices with examples from MAMAC, Cypress Envirosystems, and Control Solutions covered in this article.
 
WEB Servers Everywhere
Web servers are being put in small and large devices.  Plexus came back to AHR after a few years with their Web based automation.  Also, Open General, an Australian company, exhibited their Web-based automation system for the first time at AHR. The company’s system is built on the Microsoft.net architecture incorporating SQL Server and BACnet.
 
Wireless
Wireless is pervasive and has been adopted by a wide range of users because of the simple economic decision based on installation savings. The standards issue that is impeding adoption of wireless in the industrial automation market does not appear to be an issue in the building automation market.  Certainly ZigBee looks to be on track to eventually be the major standard.
 
 
Tridium
Tridium remains a phenomenon that just keeps getting larger. Tridium continues to grow as an independent business entity of Honeywell International Inc.   Tridium had two large booths at different locations on the AHR trade show floor - the Vykon booth for the system integrator market and the Tridium booth for OEM.   More information follows in this article.
 
CISCO
CISCO’s announcement of the acquisition of Richard-Zeta on the second day of the show certainly created buzz. CISCO’s move in the Building Automation Industry has the potential to ignite the biggest structural change in the industry since DDC.  More follows in this article.
 
Variable Speed Drives
There was great interest in the offerings of variable speed drive manufacturers focused on reducing physical size, increasing efficiency and lowering electrical noise that will be covered in a separate article.
 
2009 AHR EXPO Innovation Award Winners
The winners of the 2009 AHR EXPO Innovation Awards were announced and honored during the event.
  • BUILDING AUTOMATION - AEC Design Group - ArtrA BIM asset management
  • COOLING - Danfoss, Inc. - Apexx VSH Series variable speed scroll compressors for commercial air conditioning
  • GREEN BUILDING - Ice Energy - Ice Bear 30 hybrid air conditioner
  • HEATING - Unitary Products division of Johnson Controls - York Affinity 98 Percent AFUE Modulating Gas Furnace
  • INDOOR AIR QUALITY - ROTRONIC - HygroClip2 humidity and temperature probe
  • REFRIGERATION - Danfoss, Inc. - AKD 102 ADAP-KOOL Drive
  • SOFTWARE - Mc4 Software - Mc4 Suite multiuse software
  • TOOLS & INSTRUMENTS - UEi - Smart Bell Combustion Meter
  • VENTILATION - Twin City Fan Companies, Ltd. - Aero Acoustic Diffuser for Plenum/Plug Fans
 
 
Working with HomeAid Chicago, and WINGS Program, Inc., over $8,000 in entry fees from the 2009 AHR EXPO Innovation Awards Competition is being given to HomeAid Chicago to help rebuild the HVAC system in a domestic violence shelter.
 
Education
Various sessions and workshops were offered on topics ranging from achieving sustainability and energy reduction to the economics of energy, best practices and the latest trends and techniques in HVAC/R. For the first time at the AHR EXPO, a LEED Implementation for Building Operations and Maintenance Seminar was held by the USGBC. This 300-level course is designed for building operations and maintenance professionals involved in implementing LEED v2009: Existing Building Operations and Maintenance. In addition, the Green Mechanical Council hosted its Greenspeak: the Language and Culture of Green session and, CABA hosted a Building Intelligence Tour.
 
Products of Interest 
 
Tridium
Tridium continues to grow as an independent business entity of Honeywell International Inc.   Tridium had two large booths at different locations on the AHR trade show floor. The Vykon booth for the system integrator market and the Tridium booth for OEM. Tridium was demonstrating its new NiagaraAX and Sedona Framework applications for Building and Residential Automation, Security, Video Integration and Energy Management.
New JACE-202
The company previewed its new JACE-202 XPR, Java Application Control Engines (JACE®) that is a wireless and wired embedded controller/server platform designed for remote monitoring and control applications. The JACE-200 is a member of the Vykon suite of Java-based controller/server products, software applications and tools, and incorporates the NiagaraAX Framework. The JACE-200 can be expanded with optional 16 and 34 point I/O modules. The base unit includes two Ethernet ports, one RS-232 port, and one RS-485 port. Web User Interface and Niagara Connectivity are included along with an oBIX Client/Server driver.
 
Niagara Video
Niagara Video enables the integration of video with environmental control, intrusion detection, access control, lighting and energy management to add more value in systems.  Tridium showed an example of an HVAC low temperature alarm occurring and the system directing a camera to view the area of where the alarm originated. Personnel review the video to find a leak occurring in the ceiling and remotely shutting down the HVAC system before calling for emergency repair. As I watched the demonstration, I thought of how we relied on intercom systems in early building automation systems to listen for squealing belts, etc. in equipment rooms. www.tridium.com
 
Echelon and Wonderware Partnering
Echelon Corporation and Wonderware announced they are partnering to bring energy and facility management solutions to market. As part of this partnership, Echelon joins the Wonderware Endorsed Hardware Program and the Echelon i.LON® SmartServer will be integrated with Wonderware software.  i.LON SmartServer-equipped networks that use Wonderware facility management software provide detailed insight into energy use, trends and analysis, as well as the ability to directly control remote equipment. The Wonderware Endorsed Hardware Program helps ensure that third-party hardware offerings compliment Wonderware software solutions, facilitate compatibility and improved application performance, and help lower application development costs. 
 
LonMark
 
GreenLink Alliance
LonMark International (LMI) announced its newly established, collaborative agreement with GreenLink Alliance. GreenLink Alliance is a rapidly growing, non-profit trade association focused on promoting products and services that help to conserve energy in the building environment.
 
 
According to the US Department of Energy, in 2006, the buildings sector was responsible for nearly 40% of the primary energy consumed in the United States. Buildings are also responsible for 40% of the carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. These startling figures make it evident that optimizing energy performance in new, and existing, buildings will be important to reducing America’s demand for energy.
 
The partnership provides a platform for bringing together LonMark’s recognized and industry leading work in the field of open and interoperable standards.  GreenLink’s mission is to influence policymakers to expand tax incentives for owners of existing buildings that want to improve energy efficiency using intelligent control technology. GreenLink believes that building automation systems that leverage the capabilities of the power line offer a cost effective and environmentally sound solution to retrofit legacy buildings to increase energy efficiency.
 
LonMark Americas Unveils New Online Career Center
LonMark Americas, the North American affiliate of LonMark International announced a new resource center connecting industry job seekers and employers.  The online resource center only accepts and posts résumés and jobs from within the intelligent building and control networking industry. LonMark member and non-member companies alike can use the LonMark Career Center to reach qualified candidates. Employers can post jobs online, search for qualified candidates based on specific job criteria, and create an online résumé agent to email qualified candidates daily. They also benefit from online reporting that provides job activity statistics.
 
For job seekers, the career center is a free service that provides access to employers and jobs in the industry. In addition to posting résumés, job seekers can browse and view available jobs based on their criteria and save those jobs for later review if they choose. Job seekers can also create a search agent to provide email notifications of jobs that match their criteria.
 
 
BACnet
BACnet International and the BACnet Interest Group Europe had a large booth made up of 18 kiosks for member companies. The ZigBee Alliance had a prominent display in the booth.
 
Richard Zeta Bought by CISCO
On the second day of AHR 2009, Cisco announced that it has completed its purchase of Richards-Zeta Building Intelligence, Inc. Richards-Zeta's technologies will support Cisco initiatives such as Cisco’s Connected Real Estate and Cisco EnergyWise. Moving into applications connected to the network infrastructure seems out of character for CISCO but is a growth oriented move.
 
In a recent presentation, John Chambers, Chairman and CEO of CISCO talked about EnergyWise in the context of changing business models. 
 
"I think this is the big message for the Building Automation industry to ponder. CISCO’s move in the Building Automation Industry has the potential to ignite the biggest structural change in the industry since DDC."
 
CISCO views Richards-Zeta's intelligent middleware as a means to bridge building systems in the business side of organizations to achieve more effective management of energy consumption.  The Richards-Zeta acquisition fits the Cisco's "build, buy and partner" business strategy to move quickly into new markets and capture key market transitions.
 
Rob Salvagno, Senior Director, Business Development, does a whiteboard session on how the technology of new acquisition Richards-Zeta Building Intelligence works. January 27, 2009 on YouTube:
  
  
Micro BAS?   Honeywell SPYDER™ SYLK™ – Micro BAS?
Honeywell introduced the Spyder Sylk™ Enhanced, a fully programmable unitary controller, and the Zio™ wall module that works with Spyder to provide customized access to controller and network points. Together, the new controller and wall module give contractors flexibility, convenience, and easy access to heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system information. The Spyder Sylk Enhanced controller is the newest generation of Honeywell’s popular Spyder™ Controllers, which were first released in 2007. The new controller gives contractors the functionality to accommodate even more complex applications. Contractors can also customize a Zio home screen for specific applications and preferences. The heart of the Spyder is the Tridium Jace and software configuration is accomplished using the Niagara Framework running on a PC. 
 
 
 
BACnet Lighting Control Panels
Cristal Controls claims to have the first and only BACnet IP networked lighting control panels. Crtisal also supports BACnet MSTP.  www.cristalcontrols.com
 
Enocean LONMARK Alliance
LONMARK announced a collaborative agreement with the EnOcean® Alliance, a consortium of more than 60 companies working to promote EnOcean self-powered, wireless technology as an interoperable wireless standard. The partnership will provide a platform for bringing LONMARK's open, interoperable device-level protocol for wired and unwired networks together with EnOcean's RF end-device solution for low/no-power devices.
EnOcean's technology requires no battery maintenance and is designed to work with established, interoperable network technologies. The differentiator that sets EnOcean above other, wireless technologies is the use of sub-gigahertz frequencies: 868 MHz in Europe and the Middle East, and 315 MHz in the USA and the Far East. These frequencies are in contrast to wireless systems nestled in the 2.45 GHz band (i.e. Bluetooth). The lower, more optimal frequencies exhibit lower attenuation through walls and achieve about twice the range for the same transmitting power.
 
LONMARK also presented Thermokon with the Infrastructure Product of the Year award in honor of its Easysens SRC65-FTT Receiver, a radio receiver using EnOcean’s core technology combined with a LonWorks interface. The receiver directly converts all radio telegrams received to LonWorks standard network variables (SNVT), and offers predefined objects, such as various sensors and switches, with the corresponding output variables (SNVT) for communication in a LonWorks system.  
 
Contemporary Controls Expands BACnet Offerings
Contemporary Controls increased its presence in the BACnet community with new features in the BAS Remote I/O product.   The BAS Remote I/O Master now offers Modbus variable mapping to BACnet variables. In addition to the 6 universal I/O points plus 2 relay outputs (expandable to 24 universal I/O points and 8 relay outputs), the BAS Remote I/O Master is designed as a BACnet/IP server device that performs as a Modbus RTU/ASCII master and Modbus TCP gateway. BACnet objects can be mapped to Modbus registers and vice versa. Modbus register types are supported including floating point, and signed and unsigned 32-bit integer. BACnet objects will read their assigned Modbus registers at the interval users specify. The content of the Modbus register are stored in the BACnet object. The Modbus register is written each time the BACnet object changes value. The BAS Remote now supports Change of Value (COV), Read Property Multiple (RPM), and Foreign Device Registration (FDR).
 
 
Contemporary Controls’ BAS Router as been enhanced to support BACnet®/IP Broadcast Management Device (BBMD).
 
 
Solidyne – SMRT Smart Actuator
Solidyne showed a clever new actuato.  The SMRT Smart Actuator that is non-spring return direct-coupled Universal actuator for any type of modulating and offers impressive floating type of controls. The unit can also be field configured to meet a wide range of applications reducing inventory for contractors. For example the angular travel is programmable from 15 to 120 degrees. The unit is programmable for ON-OFF, Floating, 0-10 VDC, 2-10 VDC, 0-5 VDC, 4-20 mA.
 
The actuator in designed with field personnel in mind using one tri-color status LED to provide the user with a wide range of information using color and blink codes. In addition, manual control can be done with two momentary push buttons on the unit for CW and CCW.   www.solidyne.com
 
Johnson Controls - Sustainability Manager
JCI introduced the Metasys Sustainability Manager developed from the acquisition of Gridlogix acquisition in October.  Gridlogix, allows facility managers greater and more secure connectivity to open protocol IT applications. Users can also realize enhanced alarm response capabilities and increased monitoring and reporting, allowing them to aggregate data for enterprise-based reports.
 
Wonderware AHR Newbie!
Wonderware displayed at the AHR show for first time ever to promote their software to the facilities industry. Wonderware demonstrated their new Industry Application for Facilities Management as part of its Wonderware Industry Solutions for Facilities Management offerings. The new application features a library of templates, graphics, faceplates and symbols for the development of consistent, open applications across the facility enterprise. 
Wonderware’s message is that all systems, devices and assets within facilities can be modeled as templates, enabling the development of an entire solution with approved standards that support a robust and sustainable model. Wonderware offers data access servers for BACnet®, LonMark and the Echelon i.LON® SmartServer, with utilities that specifically address application development and automatic network, device and object creation services built in for system integration simplicity.
 
Echelon and ConneXSoft are now members of the Wonderware Innovation Partner Network. ConneXSoft specializes in providing BACnet and Echelon connectivity with application generators, application objects and tools. www.connexsoft.com
 
The Wonderware facilities management solution is provided through an open distribution model which is supported by multiple independent systems integrators. www.wonderware.com
 
Cypress Envirosystems Wireless Pneumatic Thermostat
Cypress Envirosystems demonstrated their new Wireless Pneumatic Thermostat that provides a quick and efficient way to retrofit buildings that have pneumatic controls. Cypress Envirosystems’s claims the Wireless Pneumatic Thermostat (WPT) can be installed in less than 20 minutes by replacing the old pneumatic.   The hybrid thermostat has an in-built Pneumatic Thermostat that control valves and dampers using the existing pneumatic air pipes.   The Wireless Pneumatic Thermostat (WPT) provides local digital readout, night setback, zone control, and occupancy override.   The WPT can be integrated with existing building automation systems via BACnet/IP using Cypress Envirosystems WPT BACnet Server.
 
 
Cypress Envirosystems claims that for a typical use of 4 setpoint changes per day and 30 minute update interval, estimated battery life is approximately 2 years. Less frequent setpoint changes and longer update intervals can extend the battery life to 4 years.
 
The WPT is directly compatible with the majority of legacy pneumatic thermostats from Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Robertshaw, and Siemens.
 
The company also demonstrated their Wireless Steam Trap Monitor (WSTM) and Wireless Gauge Reader (WGR) products.
 
MAMAC IP Sensor Appliance
MAMAC demonstrated their new Maverick IP Sensor Appliance that incorporates a web server, analog/digital inputs and relay outputs.  MAMAC has been a sensor company until introducing this control and information offering. The Maverick IP Sensor Appliance has an embedded lean TCP-IP stack including HTTP, SMTP, DHCP, DNS, FTP, and ARP. The Maverick also has XML embedded with formatted input & output data enabling the Maverick to communicate directly with any IT system which has an XML parser. Similarly, any simple JavaScript can be used to communicate and acquire HTML data. The Maverick can send email alerts to two different email addresses and datalog up to 2048 samples for each input.
 
The Maverick is available in two I/O versions. The first version has 8 analog or digital inputs and the second has 4 analog or digital inputs and 4 relay outputs. The analog inputs can be specified to be voltage (0-5 or 0-10 VDC) or current inputs. The output relays are rated for 5 Amps @ 250 VAC and can be used for pilot duty or light load switching directly.
 
Control Solutions BACnet WEB Server
Control Solutions demonstrated their new BACnet Web server designed to add server functionality to MS/TP devices. The device has a BACnet IP client and server and BACnet MS/TP client and server (master and slave). The unit will periodically poll MS/TP devices, or devices may directly write to local objects in the server. COV (Change of Value) subscriptions are supported. This is not a router; this is an object server with two ports (Ethernet and RS485) for accessing its objects.
 
The company’s goal is to provide a simple and cost effective facility management and remote monitoring solution suitable for use in small sites. The server includes data logging, time & date scheduling, and template or rule based alarm processing with email notification and/or I/O activation in response to events. Data logging simply records the contents of registers on a user specified schedule. Event logging keeps a record of alarm events. Scheduling causes register values to be set according to a schedule. The resulting register manipulation may generate network communication with remote devices, control local I/O, or change setpoints.
 
Open General - Web based Microsoft .NET, SQL Server Architecture
Open General is an Australian company that exhibited for the first time at AHR. The company’s system is built on the Microsoft.net architecture incorporating SQL Server and BACnet. The OPENXpress Web Server is the heart of the system. Their web-based graphics generation software allows users to generate web graphics without writing HTML.
 
OPENXpress is the company’s Web-based software package that enables users to create web based visual interfaces for virtually any BACnet compliant control or monitoring system. It is suitable for a wide range of applications from Building Management Systems (BMS), Security Intruder Detection, Access Control and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. OPENXpress has been designed using a pure Web-based architecture and back end. The Web database structure is in full compliance with the BACnet system specification. This open Web system architecture permits it to be used with literally any type of Web browser and other BACnet compliant hardware.