Cloud-Connected Network Discovery Appliance for Facility Automation
Sierra Monitor, a provider of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions that target facility automation and facility safety requirements, has announced the availability of the BACnet Explorer NG, the industry’s first cloud-connected network discovery and management solution for BACnet networks. BACnet is an industry-standard protocol that is widely used in building and facility automation.
The combination of the ‘plug-and-play’ BACnet Explorer NG appliance and Sierra Monitor’s FieldPoP device cloud enables installers and system integrators to seamlessly and remotely discover and manage BACnet MS/TP and BACnet/IP devices on an automation network, test newly installed devices, debug the network, upload device and network information to the cloud, integrate device and network data with sophisticated cloud-based software applications, and provide a control path back to the network and devices.
“BACnet is the most widely deployed and fastest growing automation and control protocol used in commercial facilities and industrial plants,” said David Nardone, Membership Manager at BACnet International, an industry association that facilitates the successful use of the BACnet protocol in building automation and control systems through interoperability testing, educational programs and promotional activities. “A new approach to exploring and integrating BACnet networks is a great advantage to system integrators, installers, and maintenance teams and can make their job more convenient and efficient.”
Traditionally, exploring a BACnet network is achieved through software that must be installed on a Windows PC connected to the automation network through additional hardware. A single installer sits at the PC and runs the application to discover and view the network. Unlike such first-generation, tethered, PC-era solutions, Sierra Monitor’s BACnet Explorer NG is a portable, pre-packaged software plus hardware appliance that can easily plug into a BACnet MS/TP or BACnet/IP automation network and concurrently into the IT network and cloud over Ethernet, WiFi, or cellular connectivity that is included with the appliance. The BACnet Explorer NG can be accessed simultaneously by multiple authorized users locally or remotely using their tablets and smartphones to not only discover and view devices, but to also securely write to those devices.
Complementing the BACnet Explorer NG’s network discovery capabilities are value-enhancing applications that run locally on the appliance. The Monitor View application allows users to monitor their entire connected network in real-time and visually track devices and data points of interest. The Historian application gives users the ability to log, store, and graphically display selected device data points over customized time intervals.
When connected to Sierra Monitor’s FieldPoP device cloud portal over the facility’s WAN or through the dedicated cellular link included in the BACnet Explorer NG, the capabilities of the on-site BACnet Explorer NG appliance can be securely and remotely accessed through the cloud by authorized users and applications. Authorized remote users can securely connect and use all the appliance-resident features for monitoring and troubleshooting. Responsible personnel can be set up to receive alerts based on defined triggering conditions in the field. Finally, solution providers can use the BACnet Explorer NG and FieldPoP REST APIs to integrate a facility’s BACnet devices into their specific solutions for energy management, maintenance management, etc.
“We have been using the BACnet Explorer NG to help us troubleshoot and fine-tune our BACnet systems and we have been very impressed,” said Matt Michniewicz, Service Manager at Halton Global Services. “The ability to manage our BACnet network anywhere – ranging from an on-site PC, the smartphone we all own, and remotely through the cloud – and adding more logic to the Explorer itself with value-added applications makes the BACnet Explorer NG a must-own tool for any system integrator and installer.”
“The BACnet Explorer NG enables integrators, facility managers, and the OEMs’ installation channels to conveniently commission new devices into existing BACnet networks.” said Varun Nagaraj, President and CEO of Sierra Monitor. “Progressive solution providers can also leverage the BACnet Explorer NG and FieldPoP device cloud to provide a range of new services to their clients such as continuous facility monitoring and maintenance-as-a-service.”