System Integrators, Decide What is Your Liability Appetite

Cyber threats are ever increasing and along with it the government and private sectors are scrambling to create definitions of responsibility, regulations, and compliance.  The impact to your controls business could be devastating if you are not prepared and do not understand the implications.  Ignorance is no longer a defense.

In the good ole days of system integration, system integrators would do anything to help their customer.  This included running private IP networks so the building engineer could see their system from his computer in his office.  This required us to learn how to setup IPs and switches and crimp CAT 5 connectors.

Our customers then asked us to connect their system to the corporate network so others in the building could connect to the control system.  This was easy… Put another NIC in the frontend PC and bridge the two networks.  All we needed to know then was how to install a NIC in a PC and setup an additional IP.  Or the other solution was to migrate the entire system over to the corporate network.  All that was needed was for us to change the IPs so they would communicate on the corporate network and connect CAT 5 cables to the corporate network…

Then the building engineer wanted to be able to check their system from home at night and on the weekends so we, the system integrators, learned how to setup routers with public IPs.  This put the control system outside the firewall so no matter where the building engineer was in the world he and billions of people could see his system.  In fact system integrators would even advertise this fact as a feature.  But that was okay because who really cared about a control system anyway… Right?

We also assumed other responsibilities.  We administered their users and user rights.  We provided the PCs or servers and patched them.  We installed the antivirus flavor of the week to “protect” their control system.  We would install consumer grade switches and routers from the big box stores and setup VPNs.

Is this a bad thing?  Depends… [Read more…]

CBRE to purchase Johnson Controls’ Global WorkPlace Solutions business for $1.475 billion

MILWAUKEE – [March 31, 2015] – Johnson Controls, Inc. (NYSE: JCI) announced today it has reached a definitive agreement for the sale of its Global WorkPlace Solutions (GWS) business to CBRE Group, Inc., for $1.475 billion. The company announced its intentions to divest the GWS business in September 2014 as part of its strategy to invest in product businesses that are core to its multi-industrial portfolio and growth objectives.

The agreement includes a 10-year strategic relationship between the two companies. Johnson Controls will be the preferred provider of HVAC equipment, building automation systems and related services to the 5 billion sq. ft. portfolio of real estate and corporate facilities managed globally by CBRE and GWS. The agreement provides Johnson Controls with new channels for its offerings and when fully operational is expected to generate up to $500 million of annual incremental revenue for the Johnson Controls Building Efficiency business.

“This agreement with CBRE is a great step for both companies that will allow each of us to build upon our core strengths to create new sources of value for our customers. GWS is a natural fit with CBRE’s offerings, and together they will strategically take the business forward,” said Alex Molinaroli, chairman and CEO, Johnson Controls. “In addition, the new strategic partnership provides another new, strong channel for Johnson Controls to serve CBRE and its clients around the world with our full portfolio of buildings technologies and services.”

In connection with the agreement, CBRE will also provide Johnson Controls with a full suite of integrated corporate real estate services (including facilities management, project management and transaction services) on more than 50 million sq. ft. of Johnson Controls properties.

“The exceptionally talented GWS team will greatly enhance our service offering for occupiers around the world,” said Bob Sulentic, president and chief executive officer of CBRE. “With GWS, we further our ability to create advantages for occupier clients by aligning every aspect of how they lease, own, use and operate real estate to enhance their competitive position.”

In addition, the companies will jointly provide $40 million over 10 years to fund an innovation lab that will develop leading-edge energy management solutions to lower costs and enhance their clients’ work environments. The joint innovation lab will evaluate, connect and leverage products, services and energy data to create value for occupiers and investors of real estate.

“This agreement is much more than a transaction,” said Molinaroli. “It reflects our commitment to grow our buildings business, and is a long-term arrangement with significant mutual value and a strategic partnership that will drive sustainable growth for both companies.”

Johnson Controls noted that it had recently completed the sale of its interests in two GWS-related joint ventures to Brookfield Asset Management, Inc. Including the joint venture transactions, aggregate proceeds from the GWS business divestitures are $1.675 billion.

Johnson Controls said it will treat GWS as a discontinued operation in the second quarter of fiscal 2015. The transaction is expected to close near the end of its 2015 fiscal year and is subject to regulatory clearance. BofA Merrill Lynch acted as the financial advisor to Johnson Controls, with Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz serving as legal advisor. The company will host an analyst call Tuesday March 31 at 10 a.m. CDT. It is available via webcast in the investor section of

About Johnson Controls: Johnson Controls is a global diversified technology and industrial leader serving customers in more than 150 countries. Our 170,000 employees create quality products, services and solutions to optimize energy and operational efficiencies of buildings; lead-acid automotive batteries and advanced batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles; and interior systems for automobiles. Our commitment to sustainability dates back to our roots in 1885, with the invention of the first electric room thermostat. Through our growth strategies and by increasing market share we are committed to delivering value to shareholders and making our customers successful. In 2014, Corporate Responsibility Magazine recognized Johnson Controls as the #12 company in its annual “100 Best Corporate Citizens” list. For additional information, please visit or follow @johnsoncontrols on Twitter.

About Johnson Controls Global WorkPlace Solutions
Johnson Controls Global WorkPlace Solutions (GWS) is a leading provider of facilities, corporate real estate and energy management for many of the world’s largest companies. The company creates business advantage for its customers through tailored solutions that optimize their real estate performance and employee productivity while reducing total occupancy costs. Its 16,000 employees have delivered over $3 billion in savings for its customers over the last 10 years and ensures the business continuity for the 1.2 billion square feet of real estate that the company manages in 55 countries.

Fraser Engerman

2014 ControlTrends Awards Highlight: The Peripheral Product of the Year

Congratulations to George Thomas and the team at Contemporary Controls for winning the Peripheral Product of the Year Award at the 2014 ControlTrends Awards.

Functional Devices Announces Improvements to their Air Handling Unit Fan Safety Alarm Circuits

NewRIBOur AHU Fan Safety Alarm Circuits feature a 24 Vac/dc power input, one master relay, and a choice of either six (RIBMNLB-6NO), four (RIBMNLB-4NO), or two (RIBMNLB-2NO) alarm circuits. Below is a list of new features and their benefits:


* The bypass switch moved from the coil of the alarm input relays to the relay’s N/O contact controlling the master relay.
* If an alarm input relay is bypassed, the coil is not continually energized.
* If an alarm input relay should fail, it can be bypassed and the alarm input moved to a spare relay.
* The status output contact of an alarm input relay changed from N/C to N/O.
* This provides a fail safe signal to the control panel. The control panel will know if a safety trips or if a wiring circuit is open.
* The main output contacts (from the master relay) changed to two independent N/O contacts. Through the use of board mounted jumpers, the output terminals for these independent N/O contacts can be made wet or dry.
* Both supply and return fan VFDs can be controlled without the use of additional relays.
* Fixed terminal connections have been replaced with removable terminal connections.
* Easy termination
* Input safeties and status outputs can easily be moved from one alarm input relay to a different alarm input relay, if needed.
* Removable terminals provide better conductor isolation from other board components, greatly reducing the possibility of accidental shorts during the termination process.

For further information, fill out this short form, and you will be directed to a PDF download link.

Building a Great Experience with Niagara 4! OPEN 4 INNOVATION

open4We’re just a week away from the Niagara Forum!Tridium has been hard at work on Niagara 4 and is excited to share their progress with the Niagara community, so they sat down with president Nino DiCosmo to give us a sneak peek at what’s to come ahead of the Forum.

With nearly half a million instances across the globe, the Niagara Framework is harnessing the power of the Internet of Things for buildings, data centers, manufacturing, smart cities and more.

With Niagara 4, the opportunity to optimize performance and achieve operational excellence will be greater than ever.

ABOUT TRIDIUM: For more than 15 years, Tridium has led the world in business application frameworks—advancing truly open environments that harness the power of the Internet of Things. Our products allow diverse monitoring, control and automation systems to communicate and collaborate in buildings, data centers, manufacturing systems, smart cities and more. We create smarter, safer and more efficient enterprises and communities—bringing intelligence and connectivity to the network edge and back.

Easy IO’s Gordon Chan Wins ControlTrends Executive of the Year Small Manufacturer

Congratulations to Gordon Chan. Easy IO’s chief won Executive of The Year Small Manufacturer. Gordon was awarded this honor by the world-wide ControlTrends voting community. Easy IO is a company that has been and continues to be on the move in building automation controls. The Easy IO Beast from the East won the Plant Controller of the Year and say building automation controls systems integrators around the world use these powerful controllers. Keep up the good work Gordon.

2014 HVAC Executive of the Year Smaill Manufacturer from Eric Stromquist on Vimeo.

FieldServer Helps Levi’s Stadium Meet Environmental Expectations and Achieve LEED Gold Certification

SMC_2Recently, San Francisco’s Levi’s Stadium hosted a record-breaking 76,976 people for the World Wrestling Entertainment’s Wrestlemania 31 event. Sierra Monitor Corporation took great pride knowing that many of Levi’s Stadium’s enormous, yet intricate water systems were integrated to the BAS using their FieldServer protocol gateways (FieldServer Case Study — Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA).

Levi’s Stadium, the new home to the San Francisco 49ers, is a $1.2 billion venue with 1.85 million square feet, seating approximately 68,500 and featuring 165 luxury suites and 8,500 club seats. Levi’s Stadium is the first U.S. professional football stadium to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification, a standard rating for the design and construction of ‘green’ buildings. LEED certifications are based on points awarded for materials and resources use, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, and other factors.

Important to Levi’s Stadium’s LEED Gold certification was the ability to interconnect and centrally monitor and control the systems that keep the stadium comfortable and operating efficiently. Because Sierra Monitor can support nearly any available protocol, many providers chose Sierra Monitor products to interconnect their disparate systems.SMC_3

The stadium’s building automation system (BAS), which acts as the central controller for facility systems such as water reticulation and HVAC, was provided by Automated Logic Corp. (ALC) and installed by Sunbelt Controls. Providing interfaces—and protocol conversions—between the BAS front end and 26 different systems and devices needing control are Sierra Monitor FieldServer gateways, BACnet MS/TP protocol converters and ProtoCessor ProtoNode protocol gateways.

Not surprisingly, water is a huge issue for Levi’s Stadium, whether it’s for drinking and kitchen use, field irrigation or wastewater from the restrooms. Unitronics PLCs control the valves and VFD drives that manage the stadium’s water reticulation; the Unitronics PLCs use Sierra Monitor FieldServer QuickServer protocol gateways to connect to Automated Logic’s BAS via BACnet MS/TP for monitoring and control. Similarly, the AERCO hot-water boilers interface to the ALC system via the BACnet MS/TP interface provided by ProtoNode protocol gateways.

Stadium facilities managers can now prime water systems in anticipation of a big game day, monitor water pressure throughout the complex, and control the wastewater system to maintain optimal operation even with 70,000 visitors in attendance.

In addition to open stadium seating, Levi’s Stadium offers premium seating in its 165 luxury suites that include climate-controlled enclosed spaces and upscale catering provided by 22 kitchens. In each of these luxury suite kitchens, a Halton kitchen exhaust fan uses a BACnet MS/TP interface via ProtoNode to transmit valuable energy management and control information to the ALC system. Kitchen ventilation can be controlled based on numerous inputs, including whether luxury suites are empty or in use, or the external temperature at the stadium.

SMC_4Being awarded LEED Gold certification is a big achievement for Levi’s Stadium, and they could not have reached that goal without the intercommunication and centralized monitoring and control made possible by Sierra Monitor products.


To read more, click here.

In the Winners Circle with ACI’s Brian Statz

Check out Brian Statz in the Winners Circle at the 2014 ControlTrends Awards. ACI won the 2014 ControlTrends Awards Best Technical Support Company of the Year Small Manufacturer. Visit ACI’s website to see all the great products they make. You know you will get great support, as attested to by ControlTrends voters from around the world.

Project Haystack Conference — May 18-20, 2015 Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, CO

Haystack2015Today’s automation systems, equipment, metering systems, smart devices and IoT applications produce tremendous amounts of data. This data can be very hard to organize and use across different applications because it is stored in many different formats; has inconsistent naming conventions and very limited data descriptors. In essence it lacks information to describe the meaning of the data. And without meaning a time-consuming manual effort is required before value creation can begin.

Taking cues from other data intensive applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and others who utilize tags and semantic data models, the work developed by the Project-Haystack community addresses this challenge by defining and easy to use methodology to describe the meaning of data. This enables software applications to automatically consume, analyze and present data from devices and equipment systems.

Register here!

The open source Project Haystack effort has streamlined the interchange of data and the techniques for managing, presenting and analyzing the vast amount of data generated by today’s smart devices and building and energy systems.

Join us May 18th – May 20th for the Haystack Connect conference: The place where the community of automation and IoT professionals come together to learn and share the latest techniques for connecting systems and using data to advance the efficiency of buildings, equipment systems and processes.