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The Road to A Successful Network Architecture — August 2021 Newsletter

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Colorado Controls engineers, installs, and services Building Automation Systems to optimize building control schemes for mechanical, lighting, and electrical systems. We keep your Building Technology Systems, HVAC Systems, Lighting Systems, and Electrical Systems running effectively while working directly with facilities teams to meet unique building needs. We strive to assist building owners with their Building Automation System(s) to help meet their business objectives by improving occupant comfort, improving employee productivity, increasing employee morale, reducing energy costs, reducing building downtime, and reducing related system repair costs. 

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Employee Profile:

Brian Prach

What is your title and how long have you worked at Colorado Controls?

My title is Field Operations Manager, and I have been with Colorado Controls for 19 years.

What does your day-to-day look like? Tell me a little bit about your job:

My Day to day is to ensure projects are staying on track with schedules, budgets, and manpower. I am also in charge of ensuring we are actively bidding on upcoming work, reviewing estimates, and leading technical sales meetings with clients and future customers. I also provide support for our team of programmers, Systems Specialists, Design Engineers, and our Graphics Team.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

I think the most challenging part of my job is keeping up with the ever growing Building Automation industry and ensuring that we are always staying with the cutting edge for our customers while also providing them with an outstanding service and product.

Tell me a little bit about your family and where you are from:

I am married to Dayna Prach who I have known for over half my life. We have three kids, Davin (14), Savannah and Emerson who are twins (8). We live in Windsor, CO, and I am also a Native to Colorado. 

What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I have lived in Colorado for 20 years. My favorite thing about living here is being able to explore the mountains!

What is one thing on your bucket list?

I would love to ride in a fighter jet.  

Where is the best place you’ve traveled to and why?

Costa Rica was absolutely my favorite place I have ever been. The people, scenery, food and fishing are just amazing. I could live there.  A: If I could travel anywhere in the world I would choose Australia because the culture interests me and I love the mix of scenery there.

If you could switch careers today, what would you do and why?

I would really like to be a professional fishing guide. The ocean is just amazing, and I don’t think there is a better place to be.  

In your opinion, what’s the best thing about living in Colorado?

The best thing about living in Colorado is the endless amount of things to do and see. I have been here my entire life and I still feel like I have so much more to see and do. I don’t think there is a better state to be in.

The Road to a Successful Network Architecture:

Part 3

Content from The Resource — Reliable Controls’ Latest Edition

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Enterprise-level communication network

In this third and final installment in our series on building a successful network architecture, we introduce the proper infrastructure required for an enterprise-level communication network. The enterprise-level communication network includes the communication required to combine multiple buildings into a single site and is useful in different vertical markets. An enterprise-level communication network may exist to combine multiple commercial offices into a single enterprise portfolio, multiple buildings on a campus into a single school district, or any other combination where a single building is part of a larger network of buildings or systems. The enterprise-level communication network is comprised of routers, servers,
and other services designed to deliver enterprise-wide control, management, analytics, and monitoring. In the modern built environment, multiple sites often include multiple BACnet systems. For facility-level integration, a solution that combines multiple facilities that use multiple third-party vendors can be a bit intimidating, but if you focus on properly designing an enterprise-level communication network, creating a common interoperable BACnet wide area network solution is easy.

Enterprise-level communication network diagram

APPLICATION ENGINEERING

Common methods to develop enterprise-level communication networks have evolved since the introduction of the digital direct control system. Although still quite common, BACnet Broadcast Management Devices and BACnet Distribution Tables in enterprise-level communication networks can be difficult to set up and maintain for both IT experts and control professionals. Proper communication protocols and ports must be defined throughout the implementation, and security and network health are often compromised in pursuit of an interoperable solution. In modern enterprise-level communication networks, RC-RemoteAccess® resolves these concerns and is a key component in wide area networking, access, and management.

An enterprise-level communication network can quickly grow to include multiple sites, hundreds or thousands of controlled devices, and an enormous amount of building automation data. The need for a simple, flexible, sustainable enterprise user interface is paramount. RC-Archive® and RC-WebView are designed to provide maximum value at the enterprise level. Consider a group of commercial buildings managed by a property manager. The ability to action improvements or decide where capital improvements are need by analyzing data and ranking buildings by key performance indicators is a great benefit realized and actioned using RC-Reporter. These products allow for robust, reliable enterprise-level communication networks that are a practical solution to historical enterprise problems.

When you begin to design an enterprise-level communication network, it is important to understand the potential capabilities of your system. In the Reliable Controls recommended architecture, an enterprise-level communication network can include up to 512 networks, 64,300
devices, and 5,128,000 system objects. Recalling the recommended architecture of a field-level communication network we discussed in part 1, and further expanding into the building-level communication network in part 2, you can now begin to fully appreciate the design intent of a properly implemented enterprise-level communication network. You can easily implement the topology of a home network on a building-level communication network into an enterprise-level communication network. In Figure 1, BACnet/IP1 works as a functional home network on a local area network. BACnet/IP1 and BACnet/IP2 are enabled on one controller per domain that connects two networks.


Figure 1: A local area network on BACnet/IP1. BACnet/IP2 functions as a bridge between networks.

Figure 1: A local area network on BACnet/IP1. BACnet/IP2 functions as a bridge between networks.

Figure 2 depicts the concept of the home network on a local area network configured on BACnet/IP1. From here you can use BACnet/IP2 to create a network dedicated to connecting domains. Notice how controllers 75000, 150000, and 225000 are all configured on BACnet/IP2 for network 19 and UDP port 47800. This configuration allows traffic to flow only to the devices that require the information, preventing any network bottlenecks where traffic may be slowed due to increased bandwidth.

Figure 2: Home network on the BACnet/IP 1 local area network. BACnet/IP2 connects to the local BACnet/IP network on BACnet/IP1 and the BACnet/IP internetwork on BACnet/IP2.

Figure 2: Home network on the BACnet/IP 1 local area network. BACnet/IP2 connects to the local BACnet/IP network on BACnet/IP1 and the BACnet/IP internetwork on BACnet/IP2.

In Figure 3, BACnet/IP1 is configured as the home network on a local area network. BACnet/IP2 is not used, but rather all domains are connected via RC-RemoteAccess. This simple configuration creates a BACnet Virtual Private Network (B/VPN) on controllers 75000, 150000, and 225000. In this way all domain traffic (building to building) is securely transmitted via the B/VPN.

Figure 3: BACnet/IP1 configured as the home network on a local area network, with domain traffic connected via RC-RemoteAccess.

Figure 3: BACnet/IP1 configured as the home network on a local area network, with domain traffic connected via RC-RemoteAccess.

The ability to create simple, effective network architecture in today’s built environment requires a thorough understanding of networking principles. The sample architectures in this three-part series provided you with the knowledge you need to seamlessly integrate not only field- and building-level communication networks but also enterprise-level communication networks. Properly implemented, these strategies will give your customers the peace of mind that the valuable data they interact with daily are not only secure but also readily available like never before. The road to network success is built with intent, one step at a time. With this intent you can truly create systems that are better by design.

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