Smart Building Automation Leverages System-Integrated, PC-Based Control

Industrial standards for automation and control, multi-core processing and integration with media technologies offer new options for smart buildings.

Open, system-integrated control technologies are being combined into new hardware and software platforms that directly link audio/video, media and lighting technology along with device management for effective building automation. With all system information available on one platform, using multi-core processing and wireless communications to create powerful, centralized systems, solutions using industrial control standards are increasingly being used in building automation applications.

New Class of Industrial PCs

The key to these IPC-based systems is a new level of processing power and connectivity options that integrate a wide variety of I/O bus couplers/terminals, lighting and HVAC controls, along with radio-controlled actuators and sensors that use a variety of control protocols, into systems that can be effectively controlled using TCP/IP communications.

An example of how the control platform is evolving is the new ultra-compact C6015 Industrial IPC from Beckhoff which adds multi-core processor technology and PJLink support for efficient integration of video projectors in automation, visualization and communication tasks.

This control cabinet IPC is equipped with a 1.91 GHz Intel Atom CPU with up to four cores, offering performance reserves for a variety of functions. Its compact housing (82 x 82 x 40 mm), flexible installation options and fanless operation make it well-suited for high performance applications where mounting space is limited. Standard interfaces for transferring electrical signals, IP, image and audio signals also make it suitable for cost-effective control of multimedia walls, for example.

By supporting integration of PJLink technology into Beckhoff’s controls platform, in conjunction with support for typical audio/video communication standards such as AES 70 (OCA), DMX, SMPTE timecode, Crestron, Bang & Olufsen, Art-Net, streaming ACN (sACN) and PosiStageNet, all the important devices and systems for media and stage technology can be controlled using a centralized PC platform.

In addition, the CX51x0 and CX20x0 Embedded PCs are now available with a DisplayPort option. This enables direct connection of monitors with resolutions of up to 2560 x 1600 at 60 Hz, and a second monitor can be connected via a DVI interface.

direct cloud interfacing
Using PC-based control, all multimedia and building services applications are combined on a central control platform with reduced hardware/software costs and options for direct cloud interfacing. Source: Beckhoff

Standard Solutions / Redundant Control

One example of how new platforms, based on industrial control standards, is being implemented in building automation is the Sky Tower in Bucharest which stands 37 floors above the city’s skyline at a height of 137 meters.

As reliability is a primary concern, individual floors in the tower are controlled from one location, and each entry and exit is controlled via a central server on the ground floor. This provides all monitoring activities for the entire building with cycle times in the millisecond range, and a system that reads and visualizes roughly 8,500 hardware data points.

Typically, in the past, automating a manufacturing plant and a building required two completely different approaches. But now, driven by control components that are increasingly connected in pursuit of higher energy efficiency, building automation systems are becoming much more advanced and industrial standards are becoming more common in office buildings.

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