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|What is LonMark International?
LonMark International (LMI) is a global membership organization created to promote and advance the business of efficient and effective integration of open, multi-vendor control systems utilizing ISO/IEC 14908-1, ANSI/CEA-709.1, EN 14908-1, GB/Z 20177.1 and their related standards.
Members of LonMark International include the world’s leading manufacturers, integrators and users of control systems in a variety of industries, including building automation, security, lighting, elevators, mass transit, semiconductor-manufacturing equipment, consumer appliances, sunblinds, energy metering, construction, commercial real estate, and industrial automation.
The LonMark brand is one of the most-recognized marks of excellence in the world. Today, our services extend to helping member companies achieve global acceptance, whether for open system devices, programmable systems or quality processes. Manufacturers’ products certified by LonMark International benefit by the organization’s undisputed reputation as the leader in the promotion and advancement of open control systems.
|Why LonMark International?
LonMark has thrived for 23 years; first as an international, unincorporated organization (in 1994); originally named the LonMark Interoperability Association. Over those years, LonMark and its member companies created 97 functional profiles and certified around 500 interoperable products. Thousands of LonMark certified products are installed in commercial buildings, buses, mass transit systems, industrial plants and other environments worldwide.
Demand for open, interoperable products is stronger than ever before. Yet, the market remains in its infancy and even more can be done to bolster awareness and demand for open systems. Competition, resistance to change and a global recession have challenged the market potential.
LonMark International was created 14 years ago, in 2003, as a not-for-profit organization to embrace the changing needs of its members and compete more-effectively in the global marketplace. The organization encourages regional LonMark Affiliates worldwide. Each Affiliate promotes open, interoperable systems to their local market addressing unique geographic, demographic, cultural and market requirements. This strategy allows LonMark International to create value-added products and services to help each Affiliate develop their local markets.
|How do members benefit from LonMark International?
Membership is extended to any person, firm or corporation engaged in the development, distribution, or marketing of open, multi-vendor control systems utilizing ISO/IEC 14908-1 and related standards. Member categories include Sponsors, Partners, Associates, Affiliates and Individuals.
Benefits at various levels include:
- Board representation
- Company listing and profile on LonMark International web site
- Use of LonMark International logo
- Access to web-based self certification tool
- Technical support concerning interoperability
- Web access to marketing materials, promotions, specifications, success stories and sales tools
- Participation in press articles and interviews
- Co-marketing opportunities through exhibitions, case studies, seminars and conferences
|How is LonMark International different than other organizations?
The landscape of open-system trade associations is scattered and fractional. The organizations that exist today are industry-specific and geographically limited. LonMark International is one of the only independent organizations that addresses the global market for open control systems consisting of devices, connectivity products, tools, and management interfaces utilizing SOAP and XML. The dynamic nature of LonMark profiles (the object-based standard for device connectivity) provides an industry-independent architecture for connecting products from multiple manufacturers together. Devices, subsystems and systems containing LonMark certified products can be linked together to create completely open solutions using an impressive collection of tools from multiple vendors.
The key differences of LonMark International include:
- Promotion of a single leading industry solution for open systems
- Support for system-level solutions
- Global penetration through regional LonMark Affiliates
- Cross-functional System Integrator training and certification programs
- Providing ubiquitous web-based certification tools
|What does LonMark International do to drive Interoperability and Open Systems?
LonMark International develops and maintains technical design guidelines to help manufacturers build interoperable LonMark products based upon ISO/IEC 14908-1 and related standards, offering a complete, open, off-the-shelf networking technology platform for designing and implementing interoperable control networks.
LonMark International is also working to certify whole systems, simplifying the definition of open systems by combining guidelines that detail the various tools and functionality that comprise the system. Incorporating standard interfaces for machine-to-machine communications extends the footprint of an open LonMark system providing added benefits to end-users in the form of open procurement (bidding) and vendor independence.
LonMark International profiles provide guidelines to precisely layout the network interface for a particular control or system function. Functional profiles ease the specification process and enhance interoperability and open systems without compromising the ability of specifiers to call for unique capabilities, or the ability of manufacturers to differentiate products. The profiles are developed through a rigorous analysis and approval process that includes a cross-functional review to ensure that profiles not only interoperate within an individual subsystem, but also provide interoperability with other subsystems within a building. For example, the Fire profiles incorporate an Alarm network variable that is an essential characteristic of a fire system but is also available for use anywhere else in the building; for coordination of elevator control, damper control and exit lighting.
|What is a Control Network?
A control network is a group of devices that are networked together to sense, monitor, communicate and control. In some ways, a control network resembles a data network (such as a LAN). Whereas, data networks consist of computers networked together, control networks consist of sensors, actuators and controllers networked together. Similar to data networks, control networks consist of devices attached to various communications media, connected by routers that communicate to one another using a common protocol. Network management software allows administrators to configure and maintain their networks. In control networks the components are optimized for the cost, performance, size and response characteristics of control applications, enable networks to extend into a class of applications that data networking technology cannot reach.
Control networks can range in sophistication from small networks embedded in machines to large networks with thousands of nodes controlling fusion lasers, paper manufacturing machines, building automation systems, semiconductor tools and diffusion furnaces. Buildings, trains, airplanes, factories and hundreds of other entities and processes can use control networks.
Before the advent of control networks, most control systems required hundreds of meters — even kilometers — of expensive wiring to connect unintelligent components to a custom-programmed central controller. Expansion required costly rewiring and custom programming. These systems were vulnerable to failure of the central controllers — a single point of failure.
Control networks have changed all this: By distributing processing among all of the control devices on the network, the central point of failure is eliminated. By allowing free flow of information between devices, control is improved and new applications are enabled. Additionally, plugging in new devices can expand control networks.
|Why a Control Network?
In contrast with traditional networks, control network manufacturers and builders provide a single, cohesive, interoperational control system that does not depend on one proprietary vendor or require costly customization.
|Why is Interoperability so important to control networks?
With interoperable control devices, end-users and network integrators can purchase devices “off-the-shelf” from different manufacturers. Plugging-in new interoperable devices, which work together regardless of manufacturer, can easily expand control networks.
|What is an Open System?
Open Systems use industry standard network services for design, installation, and commissioning of devices. An Open System does not include proprietary vertical sub-system implementations and does not require gateways, although gateways may be used to connect legacy systems. And finally, an Open System contains interoperable, interchangeable devices from multiple manufacturers. A control network designed to be “open” according to this definition is flexible, simple, cost-effective, and competitive.
|What are the benefits of LonMark certification?
The LonMark Certification Tool (LCT) is a web-based tool designed to speed the time and reduce the cost of certifying devices. The LCT is available for licensing by all LonMark Sponsor and Partner members that manufacture devices or controllers. The tool provides members with a friendly user interface that guides them through the certification process using an intuitive checklist. In addition to testing the usual device-interface file and device resource files associated with certification, the tool supports physical testing of a device as well.
Licensed users of the tool can conduct the entire certification process online, and a web-based payment system is on its way to allow certification-testing payments to be made online. The tool supports localization and is available in multiple languages to better-support member needs around the world.
Demand for open, LonMark certified products is growing rapidly. Now you can capitalize on the growing demand for certified products by certifying your products. Products that have been verified to conform to LonMark Interoperability Guidelines are eligible to carry the LonMark Logo. Displaying the LonMark Logo on your products is an indicator that they have completed the LonMark certification tests and have been designed to interoperate with other LonMark certified products.
|What does it mean, if a product is certified by LonMark International?
Products that have been verified to conform to LonMark Interoperability Guidelines are eligible to carry the LonMark Logo. The LonMark Logo is an indicator that a product has completed the LonMark conformance tests and has been designed to interoperate across a LONWORKS® network.
|What does it mean, if a system is certified by LonMark International?
Working together, LonMark members have driven the development of a new “System Definition” that divides the systems description into five categories:
- System Behaviors,
- Device Interfaces, and
- Network Software and Tools.
Also addressed in the definition is the technique for communicating via the Internet. This allows data to be reviewed in a standard fashion using web services, such as SOAP and XML. Systems that meet the criteria as defined in this documentation are considered to be LonMark Open Systems.
|Which certification level should be used in specifications?
LonMark International recommends specifying certified products based on version 3.2 or higher of the LonMark Interoperability Guidelines. Products are currently being certified to version 3.4. There are very minor differences between versions 3.2 and 3.4.
|What are the primary markets for products and systems using LonMark certified products?
The LonMark brand is recognized worldwide as a de-facto standard for control networks in all facets of the building controls industry: access control, elevators, energy management, fire/life/safety, HVAC, lighting, metering, security, just to name a few.
In Europe, the ANSI/CEA 709.1 standard was approved as a CEN TC247 European buildings standard: EN 14908-1. The Chinese set of buildings standards is GB/Z 20177and is based on the EN standards. The global standard set is ISO/IEC 14908, also based on the EN standards.
LonWorks networks are recognized as the market leader in industrial sensors and device bus/networks, according to independent research performed by Automation Research Corporation (ARC) and Venture Development Corporation (VDC). It is also part of SEMI's standards.
Open systems based on ISO/IEC 14908-1 replace complex wiring harnesses and eliminate expensive programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and PCs, distributing control throughout a network and reducing system life-cycle costs. They serve as the brains in semiconductor fabrication plants, gas compressor stations, gasoline tank farms, oil and water pumping stations, textile dyeing machinery, pulp and paper processing equipment, automated conveyor systems, and hundreds of other applications.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) adopted IEEE-1473-L in 1999 achieving the organization's goal of the goal allowing intracar and intercar communications between products from different manufacturers. Based upon ANSI/EIA 709.1, IEEE-1473-L is widely mandated and deployed in rail vehicles throughout the United States including trains and sub-systems for public transit, commuter rail, railroads, and passenger rail applications. It's in use today for braking, positive train control, signage, fault monitoring, propulsion control, lighting, HVAC, safety, indicator lights, avionics control, runway lighting, and remote device control.
Home & Utility Automation
The home automation market is a growing arena for control networks. As a result of industry deregulation, many utilities are giving businesses and homeowners the opportunity to use automation as a method of managing energy more efficiently. From the utility perspective, automation is viewed as value-added services, which help pay for expenditures associated with demand side management, automatic meter reading, and improved energy delivery methods.
In addition to energy savings, the home automation market has embraced interoperable control networks for their ability to provide a wide array of control functions. These functions include security, remote monitoring, and white good management. These functions take the automated home from simply a novelty to an efficient, enjoyable, and manageable system.
|What are the LonMark International Task Groups?
The main driving force behind adopting guidelines is input from the LonMark members through task groups. The Association's Task Groups provide the forum for LonMark members to develop the functional profiles that define the scope of products and systems.
A Cross-Functional Review Team, which consists of Task Group Leaders, addresses issues that overlap individual task groups. The goal of the Cross-Functional Team is to harmonize design approaches in the varied task groups to avoid duplication of effort and to make functional profiles as widely applicable as possible.
Task groups meet periodically and exchange proposals and comments via the LonMark International web site. Members can subscribe to e-mail lists for each task group and receive immediate notification of new documents and opportunities pertinent to a particular group.
Visit the Task Groups page in the Membership section for the current listing.
|Where can I get information on the LonMark Certified Installer, Professional and Integrator Testing Program?
See the Certification section for details and FAQs