Thursday, January 7, 2010

BACnet's for elevators too

Well, maybe not internally because of the life-safety issues that lead elevator manufacturers to use proprietary protocols that are (I am told) kept quite secret. Nevertheless, there is a wish to integrate them with the building automation system, mostly to pass information out much to the BAS. To that end I started working a while back with Dr. Albert So, an expert in the elevator industry.

This work was initiated by the City of Hong Kong, which uses BACnet in its buildings and wants to monitor their many thousands of elevators (the definition of which incorporates lifts and escalators). A concept demonstration project set up by Dr. So, and the Hong Kong University, using Schindler and Fujitec lifts, was succesful.

So I took Dr. So's proposal and massaged it into BACnet form, learning a lot I never knew about elevators along the way. Creating the necessary objects (Building, Room, Elevator Group, Lift and Escalator) was relatively straightforward but the volume and possible rapidly-changing collection of data that could be required, plus the critical importance of accurate time on certain data, required new concepts and services that could be useful elsewhere in building automation systems.

The resulting proposal has been reviewed in the Objects & Services working group and discussion on the presentation of the objects is ongoing. But we also realized that we need to have this material reviewed by the elevator manufacturers themselves, so Dr. So proposed a summit where the two of us could present the work so far to interested companies.

We held that summit two days ago, and the interest level seems quite high, with folks coming from Japan and Europe to attend. (One couldn't make his connection from Frankfurt due to snow and sent his apologies.) In fact, during the presentation and after the meeting several changes to the elevator-specific objects were suggested.

The materials from the meeting have been distributed to the members and will be forwarded to other elevator companies not present.

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