Advantech develops 'mini-PSIM'

Integrator ‘pushes products to the limit’ with customization
Wednesday, January 7, 2015

DOVER, Del.—Systems integrator Advantech is expanding its business with a software it developed, a driver that’s like a mini-PSIM of sorts, that uses “traditional detention PLC (program logic controller) mapping tools in other applications,” Advantech COO Dave Sweeney told Security Systems News.

Founded in 1990, Advantech is a $12 million integrator with 43 employees. Based here, it is a Security-Net member.

Advantech does a lot of work with school systems, both K-12 and higher ed, with state and local governments, corrections, courthouses and law enforcement.

As end users become more conscious of their energy consumption, Advantech has begun to offer more “building automation-driven solutions,” Sweeney said.

For example, a school is typically unoccupied for one-third of the day. When the alarm system is armed, lights should be turned off, the temperature should be turned down and the emergency lights should also be turned off, Sweeney said. “Then if the alarm system goes off, why not turn all of the lights on so the principal who’s checking out the alarm can see what’s going on?”

Sweeney calls much of what Advantech does “value-added integration. It’s not overly sophisticated integration … it’s things like deploying a graphic map at the front desk [of the school] that shows all the intrusion points. … If there’s a door that shouldn’t be open, you hit the camera icon to see what’s going on.”

Sweeney uses Advantech’s mini-PSIM-type “driver,” a proprietary software which it developed in-house, to accomplish these types of integrations. “We use a PLC on the back end [to integrate multiple subsystems],” he said. “You take the intrusion detection data and video data and present that on a map that can be customized to a customer’s needs.”

The main advantage is that it’s simple to use. The person at a school front desk using the graphic map interface does not “need eight hours of training on a VMS,” Sweeney said.

“It doesn’t add a tremendous amount of stuff,” he said. “[But] it allows you to get more value out of a system that you’ve already deployed [and] it allows more people to use the system.”

The Advantech driver is PSIM-like in that “with a PSIM you would write an integration to each subsystem,” Sweeney said. The similarity stops there, he emphasized. PSIMs are rules-based and far more complex.

The PSIM has its place, he said, but the customers who need a PSIM “are few and far between. … The middle market is where the opportunity is."

The Advantech driver can “present basic information in an intuitive format,” he said. It’s flexible enough to be deployed at a school, wastewater treatment plant or in any number of other applications.

In November, Honeywell recognized Advantech as its “Integrator of the Year.” Sweeney said that Honeywell appreciated that Advantech does “not just deploy canned solutions, that it takes the time to uniquely solve problems, to push the product to its limit [which makes] the product and solution better for the customer.”