Electrical Contracting News (ECN) November 2016 - Page 48

SPECIAL FEATURE HOME AUTOMATION & INTELLIGENT BUILDINGS FROM THE NINETIES TO NOW One day building controls will be everywhere, in both residential and commercial buildings. Iain Gordon of KNX UK looks at how the smart buildings industry has changed since KNX technology was launched over 25 years ago. From this point, he looks forward to the current trends, the training available and how these benefit the next generation of contractor. K NX is now in its 26th year. In itself, that’s quite some achievement and is a strong vindication of the protocol’s robustness as a building automation solution. Today, KNX is globally recognised as a protocol which enables the integration and programming of a range of products from many different manufacturers, using a single software tool. All KNX products are thoroughly tested for compliance, ensuring they operate seamlessly together on a single, simple bus system. If we go right back to the beginning, KNX began life on the 5th of May 1990 in Brussels, Belgium. Fifteen well known European manufacturers of the electrical industry founded the European Installation Bus Association, EIBA. Their idea was to make electronic installations with Bus Technology fit for the future. To ensure this, all members of EIBA agreed on using the same system, a so called ‘Standard’. In 2006, EIBA combined with the Konnex Association to form KNX Association. In 1990, building control systems were completely manufacturer dependant and almost totally exclusive to the commercial sector, largely due to cost and the rather industrial appearance of control interfaces. The controls were, as you would expect, totally independent across disciplines. For example, there was no talking between platforms or functionality within a building. The demand for a more inclusive approach was seen as a way of both maximising the control possibilities but also in rationalising what was required. This coincided with the initial years of control platforms for AV, which rather conveniently would also increase demand on a residential level for systems of all types. In mainland Europe, the density of multiple dwelling units demonstrated the benefits of controls too in keeping communal areas lit and heated but The future of building controls is looking great. without wasting unnecessary energy in doing so. This gave another good reason to have a single system approach to achieving these requirements. Finally, due to potential limitations of any single manufacturer’s portfolio of products and skills, having many manufacturers would allow companies with their own specialities to enter the market with their already developed products. A rather clever way of ensuring there was a large choice of product from the outset. Continual development for 26 years means there are over 7,000 products available which all function on the KNX BUS and standard. Since it was founded only the products have changed. The protocol and language for communication remain the same. Why is that important? It means you do not end up with building controls put in landfill on a wholesale basis. As the author, I have worked on products in installations approaching 20 years old. I have also installed new products alongside old, with no detriment 48 | November 2016 48-49 HA&IB – KNX.indd 48 13/10/2016 13:24