The Niagara Framework® is a software platform you can use to manage and control diverse systems and devices-regardless of manufacturer or protocol. Use it either locally or over the Internet with a standard web browser. For managing a smart building, Niagara provides all you need-visualization, integration, control and archiving of data. Niagara has worldwide appeal with close to one million instances—including those from all major controls OEMs—for applications as diverse as airports, campuses, hospitals, schools and homes. The JACE controller is an embedded hardware platform optimized for Niagara. The JACE CPU resource usage can be improved by offloading tasks, and its functionality can be enhanced with peripheral products.
While the JACE can receive or route MS/TP traffic over one of its serial ports, handling the intensive overhead of the BACnet MS/TP token passing protocol burdens the JACE's CPU and reduces its performance. This results in increased system resource usage that could be used for other functions such as trending, alarming, and graphics/dashboards.
The JACE CPU resource usage can be improved by offloading the task of MS/TP token passing to external BACnet MS/TP to BACnet/IP routers. This is especially important if you require the JACE to be connected to multiple MS/TP segments, where signal quality issues may arise. The use of BASrouter or BASrouterLX routers allows you to segment your BACnet network by using a router on each MS/TP segment and routing the traffic to IP. Use an Ethernet switch to interconnect the BACnet routers. The JACE then receives all traffic from all MS/TP segments through its Ethernet port.
Contemporary Control's BASrouters provide the solution. These routers offer stand-alone routing between BACnet/IP, BACnet Ethernet, and BACnet MS/TP networks — allowing the system integrator to mix BACnet network technologies within a single BACnet inter-network.
Although the JACE can communicate Modbus Serial over one of its serial ports, the Modbus protocol does not allow points to be discovered like BACnet points, which requires manual configuration of each Modbus register. This can be difficult and very time consuming. By using the BASgatewayLX with pre-defined Modbus device profiles, configuration of Modbus device registers is as quick as configuring BACnet points. This greatly reducing the time to configure Modbus devices in the field. Modbus Serial or Modbus TCP/IP points appear to the JACE's Ethernet port as BACnet/IP discoverable points.
Traveling to a job site to conduct a service call can be expensive, time consuming, and counterproductive, especially when the problem could be resolved remotely. Remote access to the JACE can reduce travel time and improve troubleshooting responsiveness. There are several ways this can be accomplished with either wired (Ethernet) or wireless (Cellular) IP router solutions which do not compromise network security thanks to advanced VPN (Virtual Private Network) technology.
Contemporary Control's EIPR-V – 10/100Mbps Wired VPN IP Router, EIGR-V – 10/100/1000Mbps Wired VPN IP Router, EIGR-C – 3G/4G Wireless Cellular VPN IP Router, and RemoteVPN – Secure Cloud Server products provide an array of secure remote monitoring solution options for your JACE, or any IP network. The JACE has two Ethernet ports — Primary and Secondary. The Primary port can be utilized for the local building control network and the Secondary port for remote communications. Connecting the Secondary port to one of our VPN IP routers establishes a secure connection to our RemoteVPN cloud service and provides access to the JACE from an office or other remote location without compromising security. When using more than one JACE, all the Secondary JACE ports can be networked together to create a remote access network that can be accessed through the VPN IP router.
You may be experiencing IP network errors, communication issues with your JACE, or you cannot discover a device on the IP network. It would be difficult to troubleshoot these issues without access to a network protocol analyzer such as Wireshark®, which works by capturing all network traffic and decoding the packets for analysis of the conversation between devices. Mounting a diagnostic switch next to your JACE allows you to easily perform IP network troubleshooting.
Skorpion® Diagnostic Switches assist in troubleshooting Ethernet networks by allowing a network protocol analyzer such as Wireshark to attach to an unused port on the switch and observe all traffic on the network. Skorpion Diagnostic Switches retain all the features of an unmanaged switch but perform like a repeating hub where all received messages are flooded to all other ports. There are two models of 5-port diagnostic switches with 24VAC/VDC power input and DIN rail mounting in the series which differ only by the highest data rate supported. The EISK5-100T/H supports 10/100 Mbps networks while the EISK5-GT/H can additionally support gigabit speed traffic. The EISK8-GT/H supports up to eight ports at 10/100/1000 Mbps speeds. All messages—directed, multicast, and broadcast—are flooded to all ports on the switch, providing the ability to observe all traffic on the network. This eliminates the need for a managed switch and setting up mirroring to do diagnostics – replacing it will be simple with the plug-and-play operation of the diagnostic switch. The Skorpion Diagnostic Switch can be permanently mounted next to a JACE installation or replaced with a regular Skorpion switch once the system is commissioned.
If your JACE network is sharing the main information network, you are likely to get some pushback from the IT department. Your automation network tends to generate more broadcast and multicast messages, while also requiring fixed IP address assignments. These attributes are not usually welcomed by IT departments. Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs) enable Ethernet connected systems to be divided into logical groups at the data link layer. VLANs make it easy for network administrators to partition a single switched IP network to match the functional and security requirements of their systems without having to run new cables or make major changes in their current network infrastructure. Without VLANs, grouping IP connected devices according to their resource or functionality necessitates the labor of relocating nodes, rewiring data links or adding more switches or routers. In addition, VLANs provide ease wof administration, confinement of broadcast domains, reduced broadcast traffic, and enforcement of security policies. By confining broadcast domains, end-stations on a VLAN are prevented from listening to or receiving broadcasts not intended for them which optimizes overall network performance.
The EISK8M Series offers a compact rugged managed 10/100 Mbps Ethernet switch for IP network management and efficiency with a choice of eight copper ports or a mix of six copper and two fiber ports—with fiber optic ring redundancy. Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (RSTP) is also supported providing greater redundancy over mesh configuration. Intended for cost-effective Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) applications, the unit is rated over the industrial temperature range. Fiber optic distances up to 15 km are possible with the single-mode option.
Niagara Workbench™ is an indispensable solution for programming and maintaining a Niagara system however, it is seldom used with field controllers because the controllers do not incorporate Niagara. Contemporary Control's line of Sedona controllers – the BAScontrol series and the BASremote controller/gateway – can be programmed using Niagara Workbench 3.7 and 3.8 tools, meaning that the tool can be used with both Niagara and Sedona controllers, thereby greatly simplifying commissioning/programming. This makes the Niagara Workbench™ a one-tool solution. The controllers utilize a direct 10/100Mbps Ethernet connection, utilize a web server for configuration, and are freely programmable Sedona standalone controllers. They can optionally be used as remote I/O with JACE supervision over BACnet/IP.