Interoperability – foundation for successful products
Issue 02-2015: read all articles online read as pdf
It is one of the EnOcean Alliance’s missions to secure the interoperability of devices based on EnOcean technology – enabling cross-vendor building management systems at a safe investment. The foundation for this key property of a device is laid during its design-phase. The certification specifications of the EnOcean Alliance provide guidance and assistance to the product development team to secure a product’s characteristics.
Interoperability, as defined, will result in fluent communication between EnOcean-based devices made by different manufacturers over a certain distance and thus enable implementation of distributed functionality – provided that the existing system specifications are consistently applied at all levels.
In technical wording, interoperability requires products to be made in compliance with existing specifications and to perform in a repeatable manner at all layers:
- Physical layer: compliance of the air interface with the EnOcean standard ISO/IEC 14543-3-1X and a defined minimum transmission range
- Communication layer: scheduling and logical compliance with communication flows
- Application layer: correct coding/decoding of communication content, compliance with defined schedules and conformal processing of transmitted data
- In addition for self-powered devices: the ability to collect energy from the ambient environment over a certain timeframe to secure proper operation of the device over a defined period beyond this timeframe
EnOcean certification program
System planers, system integrators and customers demand reliable devices and procedures, which facilitate the implementation of versatile solutions with an increasing offer of use cases of EnOcean technology. The EnOcean Certification Program – linked with a corresponding marking on devices – is THE tool for the EnOcean Alliance to secure interoperability of EnOcean-based devices without major additional effort. The EnOcean Alliance’s Technical Working Group (TWG) develops all components of the Certification Program till the end of the year 2015. The objective is a self-declaration of the device manufacturer, similar to the European CE declaration. In addition, a supplementary verification by an independent and accredited test laboratory is part of the program.
Step by step towards the goal
An EnOcean self-certification requires several steps to be performed by the manufacturer of the device, which can be done without significant additional effort as part of the already required product development verification (see graphic). Applied already during the design-phase of a product, the certification specifications will support the achievement of the design goals. Supporting a device’s development process, the test cases relevant to the certification will be defined at each step of the process and device-related documents will be compiled. Especially, all information relevant to interoperability is to be reflected in the public device documentation; that way, this will become an integral part of the certification. The correct and consistent use of the test specifications ensures that all devices will undergo an identical test process, and the test coverage as well as the test results will be comparable and reproducible independently of the individual device manufacturer.
Verification of the air interface
A first major step towards the EnOcean Certification was achieved by the release of the “Radio Performance” specification in August 2013. This specification is applied already by quality-focused device manufacturers. By this, non-sensitive radio receivers and low-range transmitters are things of the past; and those manufacturers ensure a sufficient transmission range supporting interoperability.
These days, the TWG defines the specification for the certification of the air interface, based on the EnOcean standards ISO/IEC 14543-3-1X with the aim of releasing it by the end of 2015. In combination with the “Radio Performance Certification Specification” this will ensure that radio implementations of different manufacturers will communicate reliably with each other.
Reference data for communication profiles
A parallel effort of the TWG is the development of the specification for the certification of the “Communication Profiles”. This comprehensive specification will provide procedures and reference data to verify the implementation of the communication protocol chosen – EEP or Generic Profiles. It will be based on the system specifications available by the EnOcean Alliance – the EEP specification (current version 2.6.3), the specification of Generic Profiles and Remote Commissioning. By means of defined data containers, the test result will be documented and reproducibility of test cases will be achieved.
Reliable end-to-end performance
The proof of performance according to the specification of a particular device remains the responsibility of the manufacturer. The result of this proof is a mandatory component of the EnOcean Certification to deliver a reliable end-to-end performance of functionality to operators and customers. At this level, self-powered devices will be supplemented by a validation of the energy concept. Only by this, the performance of a device over a defined period of time can be adequately ensured with energy collected from the ambient surroundings.
Handbook as guideline
The “EnOcean Certification Handbook” (available early 2016) will be a kind of a bracket for the entire process and will secure a smooth execution of the certification process. On the one hand, it will support the unification and by this traceability of the certification’s documentation. On the other hand, it will be a guideline for the product development process.
Long-lasting high quality
The certification specifications existing so far can already be applied today. The TWG revises and updates these specifications continuously and thus incorporates the latest insights resulting from development activities of members of the EnOcean Alliance and latest requirements by the markets. Thus, the EnOcean Alliance substantiates and progresses step by step its promise of interoperability and secures the high level of quality of EnOcean-based products.
The Technical Working Group welcomes all members of the EnOcean Alliance to contribute their expertise to the definition and completion of the certification process.