FieldServer 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, LonWorksKNXModbus TCP/IP, Modbus RTU, Metasys N2SNMPXML, 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. Does the partner have a demonstrated and successful track record in the multiprotocol gateway business?
  2. Does the partner commit sufficient resources to maintain multi-protocol skills and certifications including staying current with evolving standards?
  3. Does the partner have specific experience with other OEMs in the product category?
  4. 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?
  5. 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?
  6. How many protocols does the protocol gateway partner support?
  7. Can multiple protocols be supported on the same gateway?
  8. 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?
  9. 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?
  10. 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?
  11. Will the partner provide the OEM a customized start up guide, along with training seminars for the OEM's sales and support staff?
  12. 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.

Products

Our leading FieldServer OEM multi-protocol converters and gateways are utilized by OEMs as their preferred protocol conversion solution, as they can be embedded within their products or connected externally.  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. The OEM and Sierra Monitor work together during the project to determine which of the following products is right for the OEM's project:

FieldServer Router:

OEM Engagement Process

With a track record of working closely and successfully with more than 100 top-tier OEMs, Sierra Monitor has refined its OEM engagement model to avoid surprises and to ensure quick time-to-market. Key steps include: 

  1. The OEM identifies the BMS protocols of interest.
  2. The Sierra Monitor team and the OEM determine which of the following FieldServer protocol gateway form factors is appropriate for the project:
    1. A ProtoCessor that plugs directly into the OEM’s redesigned electronics board - or - 
    2. A ProtoCarrier that is added on within the enclosure when the OEM is not ready to redesign their hardware - or - 
    3. A ProtoNode that is assembled in its own mechanical package and mounts outside the enclosure.
  3. The OEM provides the register list for all controllers for which they want BMS protocol support.
  4. Sierra Monitor programs all listed OEM controllers for the required protocol(s).
  5. Sierra Monitor creates a unique part number, which contains all configurations that have been developed for the OEM.
  6. OEM receives test samples of all configurations/profiles that have been developed for their product line(s).
  7. Sierra Monitor provides a 60 minute, phone-conference training to walk the OEM through the one-time startup/validation of the ProtoCessor, ProtoCarrier, or ProtoNode. Configurations must be validated before field installation.
  8. Sierra Monitor provides a BACnet Explorer capability, allowing the OEM to test their product on BACnet through a PC at their facility.
  9. Sierra Monitor creates a user manual for the OEM to provide for their customers, explaining how to install their products on the protocol(s). Manual can be used as-is or modified as OEM sees fit.

Sierra Monitor completes and freezes the programming on the validated configurations/profiles of each of the OEMs controllers for final configuration. There are three approaches for final FieldServer OEM gateway configuration; and the approach used depends on the OEM’s requirements:

  • Configuration Auto-Selector means that all pre-tested configurations are already loaded onto the FieldServer gateway and are selected via DIP switches. Various combinations of configurations are developed and loaded onto the FieldServer.
  • Advanced Auto-Discovery is designed for applications that require one or more of the same device to connect to one FieldServer module to support multiple field protocols without having to build any special configurations. Configuration files are built automatically in the field.
  • Profile Selector/Web Configuration is used for devices without a unique identifying register. The FieldServer module can be set up using the Profile Selector/Web Configurator to select the specific device profile is already stored within the module. This approach can provide the required field protocol(s) for one or more controllers connected to the module.

Protocol Drivers

Sierra Monitor's FieldServer protocol gateways for OEMs support over 140 protocol drivers, ranging from commonly used, open protocols to obscure, proprietary protocols. The embedded or external FieldServer protocol gateway (ProtoCessor, ProtoCarrier, or ProtoNode) enables the OEM's product to connect to the facility's management system or network using the required protocol. Protocols supported on the gateway include:

Resources