LonWorks crosses all levels

By Mark T. Hoske, CONTROL ENGINEERING June 1, 1999

LonWorks’ network LonMark Interoperability Association (Palo Alto, Calif.; www.lonmark.org ) suggests LonWorks eliminates problems associated with programming multiple networks by reaching across sensor, device, and field levels of protocols. (For more information, also see Control Engineering , June `99 article, ‘Software Tools Can Ease Network Setup and Use.” )

Echelon’s (Palo Alto, Calif.) LonWorks Network Services (LNS) is a network operating system that enables tools for installing, maintaining, monitoring, and controlling LonWork networks, using client-server structure. LNS handles directory management and routing. The system allows multiple installers to work on the system, simultaneously, without conflicts or synchronization problems. LNS applications can provide their own set of application services, properties, and events and access the services provided by others.

LNS also tracks the needs of each tool used on the system and informs each of configuration changes. Maintenance personnel can access any network data from any point on the network. Adding more clients and servers is transparent to the end-user. LNS has LonWorks Component Architecture extensions that use an Microsoft ActiveX interface. The system is host-independent and works across multiple platforms: embedded microcontrollers, Microsoft Windows PCs and Unix workstations. LonMaker for Windows Integration tool allows users to monitor, control, manage, and maintain LonWorks networks over the Internet. Echelon provides a number of developer kits and components; see www.lonworks.echelon.com .

CISCO (San Jose, Calif.), a sponsor member of the LonWorks’ association, is among companies extending LonWorks’ reach. IOS software has an interface to LonWorks to provide a standard way to manage and control Echelon’s control network devices (and other networks) over an IP network; see www.cisco.com .

Metra Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.) offers MetraVision, LonWorks’ network management and HMI software. Version 4.1 features a node toolbar and node browser for quicker development of device-specific plug-ins. see www.metra.com .