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Low Cost Powerful Hybrid Edge Controllers
August 10, 2016 - Building Automation
By Ken Sinclair
Low-cost powerful hybrid edge controllers move control and data to the edge while still making both available to the cloud, enabling self learning at the device or cloud or a hybrid of both.
My five decades in the building automation industry have made it crystal clear that we are always moving towards or away from centralization, and I love this article theme that sees us moving in both directions at the same time. This is important because the success of our industry and all other industries is embedded in the balance of cloud, edge, and self-learning devices.
Very pleased to have this evolutionary article: “Data Flow Will Mirror Air Flow in the Era of Hybrid Edge Controllers.” One affordable, flexible device that can serve as either a global controller or a field DDC will go a long way to better HVAC system designs — Alper Üzmezler, BASSG LLC and Therese Sullivan, BuildingContext Ltd.
It dawned on me that this is not just true for air but all building systems processes. Chilled water, hot water, demand response, integration of renewables, etc. — everything. And that the same data may flow differently for different processes. This is part of the exciting message, all self learned, from Haystack tagging.
You need to read this article to grasp the significance of this change; here are some quotes from article.
As hybrid devices enter the market, the near future will be a transition time. Two characteristics of newer controls architectures are that:
The on site PC supervisor is becoming a thing of the past. Now, AHU controllers are more likely communicating to a cloud-hosted BMS via secured Ethernet connections.
Customers are demanding that data be freed from walled gardens protected by proprietary protocols. More and more, controls designers can count on data interoperability from their equipment through full implementations of BACnet or other industry standards.
The biggest change yet, however, will be the introduction of hybrid controllers. These will have the full stack of resources needed to host applications for graphics, trending, alarming, control logic, and advanced analytics. To a large part, they will eliminate the need for a conventional global controller. VAVs will communicate directly with their own hybrid controllers.
More recently, in March of this year, this article set the scene: “Energy Analytics Controllers.” Edge devices now have the intelligence and data storage they need for local analytics and machine decision-making. They’ll soon be the thing that the rest of the BAS universe revolves around — Alper Üzmezler, BASSG LLC
Lots of very well read articles last month about the power of the edge for control as well a data storage and self learning. Here are the July Top Reads:
“The Strategy and Payoffs of Meta-Data Tagging.” Value creation is happening in the buildings industry as systems integrators transition to an open, industry-standard methodology for meta-data tagging and data modeling — B. Scott Muench, vice president of marketing and business development, J2 Innovations.
“What’s More Important to the Building? The Device or the Cloud?” Greg Barnes, Vice President, Activelogix LLC
“Grundfos Living Lab.” Commercial building insights through Azure IoT Suite and Beckhoff standard devices — Sven Goldstein, Product Manager, TwinCAT Connectivty & IoT, Beckhoff Automation GmbH & Co. KG
“Infusing Machine Learning with Artificial Intelligence.” As anyone who endures a call with an automated customer “help line” quickly learns, robots have a frustrating inability to understand sarcasm — Sophie Loire, Ph.D., research and technology fellow, Chris Tagge, Ph.D., CEO, Igor Mezic, Ph.D., chief scientific and technical advisor, co-founder, Ecorithm, Inc.
“Controls Industry is Ripe For Disruption.” A wave of next-generation low-cost, easily deployed devices and services has hit the beach, and lots of new players are making smart buildings compelling and accessible for the other 90 percent of the market — Steve Raschke, CEO, Candi
I have provided a summary in my review: “Recent History on How We Got to the Edge.”
While reading our August lead article, "The Era of Hybrid Edge Controllers,” I gained a better understanding of the power of the edge. This is a very evolutionary article with a lot of head shakes that question how we now do stuff, and is embedded with insight to the changes coming ... great stuff.
It got me thinking about a conversation Alper and I had several years ago that inspired me to write this endless article: “The Past and Future of Control Languages” — A call to the industry to speed their evolution to open protocol for control languages.
Many industry experts contributed to this never ending article. Both Alper Üzmezler and Toby Considine talked of the movement to the edge in 2008 and 2009.
From this column by Toby Considine, “Clouds and Rain,” comes this wisdom:
For Brandl, nearly everything is a cloud; only the core control processes are on the ground. I think this is right; for buildings, only the core processes, those elements on the traditional low voltage protocols such as BACnet and LON, are on the ground.
Therefore the core control language must be on the ground and closely coupled with DDC control. The optimization of this language will come from web services in the cloud.
Optimization will no longer be contained in the DDC control language. Optimization and the necessary interaction will come from complete web services solutions and smart grid interaction from the cloud.
The complex dynamic optimizing control coding of the past will be part of actual major equipment control and part web services.
Optimization and the necessary interaction cannot exist with our existing proprietary control languages but only exist in a mash up of dynamic web services that will provide the results we are looking for.
In this 2009 article, “Future of Building Automation,” from Alper Üzmezler comes these thoughts:
Pure object oriented programming for building controls: Since every object is a real life device, programming methodologies will completely change. Every equipment manufacturer will store and build essential algorithms into their devices which will give them an edge over their competitors. For example, a VFD manufacturer will essentially create algorithms that will optimize their PID loops inside their equipment. Damper actuators will have more optimized PID loops based on their communication skills to the cloud.
I think this new "Era of Hybrid Edge Controllers” article is an evolution of the history Alper Üzmezler predicted. Wow, in 2009 he told us this was going to happen.
Then all he had to do was make it happen ... smile.
Ken Sinclair is the founder, owner, and publisher of an online resource called AutomatedBuildings.com. He writes a monthly column for FacilitiesNet.com about what is new in the Internet of Things (IOT) for building automation.