Protocol Gateways for OEMs
Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) develop products and systems for heating, cooling, lighting, power generation, metering, environment control, and safety that need to communicate with each other or need to be integrated into higher-level building, industrial, or facilities management systems. Request for Proposals (RFPs) often specify the specific building, industrial automation, or other control protocols that an OEM’s products need to support in order to fit into the overall facilities control architecture. The OEMs that support the broadest range of protocols have access to the largest number of opportunities and have a competitive advantage over their peers.
OEMs need to add hardware and software to their products to support popular protocols like BACnet MS/TP, BACnet/ IP, LonWorks, KNX, Modbus TCP/IP, Modbus RTU, Metasys N2, SNMP, XML, etc. OEMs can either choose to internally develop such hardware and software, or can source and bundle third-party protocol gateways with their product. There are several good reasons why more than 190 OEMs have chosen to source and bundle proven FieldServer protocol gateway technology from Sierra Monitor rather than spend effort on internal development.
- Time-to-market: It can take between 6 and 18 months per protocol to develop, test, and certify internal implementations, and that is after the team has been fully staffed and trained. Using FieldServer protocol gateways such as the ProtoNode enables the OEMs to offer support for all popular protocols within 3-4 months, total.
- Cost: The expense of developing popular protocol interfaces, certifying them initially, and then constantly staying current with the latest protocol implementations as the standards change, can easily creep into more than a million dollars. Using Sierra Monitor’s ProtoNode is a R0I proposition - a return on zero investment.
- Risk: Protocol development and compliance testing is not the OEM’s main business. It is preferable for OEMs to minimize their risk by leveraging the industry’s best in class protocol gateways from Sierra Monitor. This allows OEMs to focus on their main business - developing the best devices or systems for their market.
Selecting the Right Partner
An OEM should consider the following critical factors while choosing a protocol gateway technology partner:
- Does the partner have a demonstrated and successful track record in the multiprotocol gateway business?
- Does the partner commit sufficient resources to maintain multi-protocol skills and certifications including staying current with evolving standards?
- Does the partner have specific experience with other OEMs in the product category?
- Does the partner offer a specific turnkey solution designed for the OEM, or does the partner offer a generic protocol gateway and expect the OEM to adapt to it?
- Is the partner able to implement a driver for the OEM’s proprietary protocol and map that into the multitude of standard protocols that must be supported?
- How many protocols does the protocol gateway partner support?
- Can multiple protocols be supported on the same gateway?
- Does the partner offer form factors that are most appropriate for the OEM - ranging from gateways that can be added as an external box to socketed cards for installation on the OEM’s electronic assembly?
- Is the turnkey solution delivered with pre-loaded and pre-tested profiles so that the OEM never has to download files in the field, and OEM’s customers can configure in minutes rather than hours?
- Does the partner’s gateway technology have the ability to auto discover the types and numbers of the OEM’s devices in the field and dynamically build the required configuration on the gateway, thereby reducing field errors and saving time for the OEM’s customer?
- Will the partner provide the OEM a customized start up guide, along with training seminars for the OEM’s sales and support staff?
- Does the partner have the expertise and manpower to provide deep technical support to the OEM through the entire life cycle - during development, deployment, and post-sales support?
Sierra Monitor’s FieldServer protocol gateways have been adopted by more than 190 OEMs for their protocol conversion and integration needs. Whether using a ProtoCessor that plugs directly into the OEM’s redesigned electronics board, a ProtoCarrier that is added on within the enclosure when the OEM is not ready to redesign their hardware, or a ProtoNode that is assembled in its own mechanical package and mounts outside the enclosure, Sierra Monitor has a FieldServer protocol gateway that is the right fit for the OEM.