WEMS International has released a new product for users of the NiagaraAX Framework. The company has introduced a driver for NiagaraAX that enables WEMS wireless sensors and I/O modules to work with Tridium JACE, Centraline Hawk or Distech Controls EC-BOS hardware platforms (which run the NiagaraAX software). The driver uses a special version of the WEMS RS232/RS485 serial interface module to wirelessly enable the hardware platform. Wireless I/O modules then appear in the NiagaraAX Workbench tool as if they were wired I/O points, and can be fully configured using Workbench.

Using wireless I/O modules with NiagaraAX in a seamless manner delivers a range of benefits such as providing a cost effective way to extend existing sites, that would otherwise be too costly to wire. Another benefit is the ability to retrofit monitoring and controls to buildings where it is impossible to interfere with the fabric of the building such as heritage sites and buildings with asbestos issues.

From the perspective of the system integrator or value-added reseller (VAR), the result is faster, less disruptive project installation. Ultimately the new driver delivers more profit and/or greater opportunity to win contracts on smaller or more challenging sites where installation costs are traditionally high, such as smaller retail premises, warehouses, depots and historic buildings, for example.

A further benefit is the ability to install temperature and energy monitoring systems temporarily, so that trials and potential advantages can be more easily demonstrated. The technology makes it straightforward to remove these systems if the end user does not commit to the full project. 

WEMS has added a ‘Partner Portal’ to its website and recruited extra staff specifically to provide training, documentation and technical support. For new partners, WEMS can provide WebEx and face-to-face training as appropriate, although many will be able to make the products work straight “out of the box” after reading the user guide.

Users of the WEMS wireless I/O driver can now cost-effectively extend existing sites which feature NiagaraAX-based systems. For example, consider a retail store which has been extended into an adjacent shop unit. The cost to include the additional unit in the BMS with a wired solution is normally too high to justify, but is much simpler with the WEMS wireless modules and sensors. Similarly, a site which had a NiagaraAX system installed for HVAC control but now wants to add additional monitoring and/or metering, or to include lighting control, will find it far cheaper to do so with WEMS wireless I/O.

Ultimately, the new technology enables NiagaraAX to be used on a wider variety of existing (and new) buildings, aligning the benefits of system openness and ease of integration.

The new driver, bundled with the WEMS serial interface is now available for purchase. An introductory demo kit can also be acquired, containing one of each main product type, which allows partners to experiment with how the modules would work in specific controls projects.

The Controller 1 and Controller 4 modules each provide two thermistor inputs which can be used with conventional, low cost 10K3A1 thermistor sensors. The Controller 3 module is used where analogue inputs and outputs are required, for valve and damper modulation, and VSD control. The input side will accept 4-20mA or 0-10V sensor inputs for CO2 and other such measurement devices.

All the digital inputs accept pulse meter inputs as well as alarm and other status points, while the battery powered pulse input module can be used for water and gas meters where there is no locally available power supply.

Niagara AX is a software platform that integrates systems and devices regardless of manufacturer or communication protocol into a unified platform that makes it easy to create internet-enabled products and applications. With appropriate drivers, NiagaraAX can integrate many different building systems, including BMS, security, HVAC, lighting, energy, fire and others using network technologies such as Bacnet, Ethernet, KNX and LON to list but a few. The new wireless I/O driver has been developed by WEMS in conjunction with SSI of Switzerland and Niagara partner, Innon UK.