LonWorks Protocol

LonWorks is a networking platform specifically created to address the unique performance, reliability, installation, and maintenance needs of control applications. The platform is built on a protocol created by Echelon Corporation for networking devices over media such as twisted pair, powerlines, fiber optics, and RF. It is popular for the automation of various functions within buildings such as lighting and HVAC; see Intelligent building.

A technology initiated by the Echelon Corporation in 1990, the LonWorks provides a platform for the for building industrial, transportation, home automation and public utility control networks to communicate with each other. Built on the Local Operating Network, it uses the LonTalk protocol, in order to have a peer to peer communication with each other, with out actually having a gateway or other hardware.

The platform has its origins with chip designs, power line and twisted pair signaling technology, routers, network management software, and other products from Echelon Corporation. In 1999 the communications protocol (then known as LonTalk) was submitted to ANSI and accepted as a standard for control networking (ANSI/CEA-709.1-B). Echelon's power line and twisted pair signaling technology was also submitted to ANSI for standardization and accepted. Since then, ANSI/CEA-709.1 has been accepted as the basis for IEEE 1473-L (in-train controls), AARIFSF (European petrol station control), SEMIEN 14908 (European building automation standard). The protocol is also one of several data link/physical layers of the BACnetASHRAE/ANSI standard for building automation. electro-pneumatic braking systems for freight trains, (semiconductor equipment manufacturing), and in 2005 as

China ratified the technology as a national controls standard, GB/Z 20177.1-2006 and as a building and intelligent community standard, GB/T 20299.4-2006; and in 2007 CECED, the European Committee of Domestic Equipment Manufacturers, adopted the protocol as part of its Household Appliances Control and Monitoring – Application Interworking Specification (AIS) standard.

By 2006 approximately 60 million devices were installed with LonWorks technology. Manufacturers in a variety of industries including building, home, transportation, utility, and industrial automation have adopted the platform as the basis for their product and service offerings. Statistics as to the number of locations using the LonWorks technology are scarce, but it is known that products and applications built on top of the platform include such diverse functions as embedded machine control, municipal and highway street lighting, heating and air conditioning systems, intelligent electricity metering, subway train control, stadium lighting and speaker control, security systems, fire detection and suppression, and newborn location monitoring and alarming.