Here we provided answers to the questions you ask us most often:
FIN Framework is designed to be run on embedded microprocessor hardware platforms, as well as PCs, and servers. J2 Innovations do not supply any hardware, but instead we encourage our OEM partners to either manufacture their own custom platforms, or to buy-in from a third party suitable hardware platforms on which to run FIN. There are now many embedded PC manufacturers who can provide hardware that is suitable for panel mounting in buildings. There are now also several OEM controls manufacturers who have ported FIN to their custom hardware with on-board serial ports and direct I/O, so these provide additional options. We can broker an introduction if you need a hardware platform.
The first 12 months maintenance, which includes updates, extensions and upgrades, is included in the initial license price of FIN Framework. After that, payment for maintenance is charged at about 18% of the regular license per year - but is not compulsory. If an upgrade is later required, in order for example to take advantage of new features, then the maintenance fee for the intervening period must "be made up" in order to gain the upgrade. OEM partners who port FIN to their own custom hardware are not required by J2 Innovations to pay any maintenance but they may choose to charge their customers for maintenance and upgrades to cover their own costs of maintaining a custom version of FIN.
FIN Framework in its standard form, running on an embedded PC only supports IP connectivity, so yes IP capable field controllers and/or I/O modules can be directly connected to FIN via one of the supported open protocols such as BACnet IP or Modbus IP. OEMs who port FIN to their own controller platforms generally offer these with direct I/O and the ability to connect serial bus I/O to those controllers.
In North America, FIN Framework is available from a number of distributors under the "FIN Stack" brand. The list of distributors can be found on our Distributor Partners page. Furthermore, FIN Framework is available through OEM partners both in North America and worldwide. Some of these are listed on our OEM Partners page, others have chosen to use FIN without acknowledging that that is what their product or system is based on. There are various new large OEMs who have a FIN based product on their current road-map, so the list of OEMs will grow dramatically over the next few years.
FIN originally stood for "Fluid INtegration" since the focus of the business has always been on improving workflows and engineering efficiency. Now we just call it FIN!
FIN Framework is licensed according to the number of data points that are being monitored, managed and/or controlled. The J2 Innovations price list includes points bundles from 100 points up to 100,000 points which can be bought in any combination. In custom OEM applications, alternative pricing models can be considered; these are agreed on a case-by-case basis as the wide range of applications FIN can be used in often have very different requirements from the BAS market.
The impact of the Siemens acquisition has been overwhelmingly positive, as they have been invested significantly; increasing tripling the size of the business (as of May 2020). The additions to our management team have brought a greater experience to what was a relatively young company, enabling us to put in place new processes that are enabling us to rapidly scale -up the business. Furthermore, Siemens has helped to improve cyber-security and quality control in the software development process. The new version of FIN - FIN 5, is the most reliable and well tested version so far released.
FIN Framework offers the most flexible, advanced and user-friendly software for building automation currently available. For OEMs who require software as part of their overall sales proposition, FIN provides a much faster way to update their solution compared to in-house development, at lower cost with less risk. Our platform is already proven and offers a more comprehensive feature-set enabling our partners to meet a wider variety of customer requirements than would be viable with in-house development.
Our latest version, FIN 5, has been extensively Pen tested and includes the latest techniques to improve its cyber-robustness. No software is 100% proof against hackers but J2 Innovations development team have made providing excellent cyber-security a high priority. Good cyber-security is not just down to the software design but also the way it is installed and managed. Ask for our IT Security Hardening Guide and Cyber-security presentation for more details.
As the deployment of FIN Framework in embedded applications is limited by the requirement for a JVM, which sets a minimum "footprint" in terms of processor power and memory, J2 Innovations decided to re-code FIN so that it can run directly on a Linux OS, requiring far less memory and less processor power. This also means it runs in a closer to deterministic way, which is better suited for primary control applications that require very fast response times. FIN Edge only requires a 400MHz single processor and about 16MB RAM with 256MB Flash memory to function. This enables it to be used cost-effectively in application specific controllers for VAV or FCU control and similar edge applications. FIN Edge requires FIN Framework for configuration. The first release is scheduled for 2020, but is already available for early OEM engagements. This first version will not have the full web-server GUI support which will be added later.
FIN Edge2Cloud is an extension of FIN Framework's capabilities to assist OEMs in their deployment of cloud services solutions. The initial release, scheduled for 2020, provides highly secure, fully authenticated remote access via the AWS cloud. This enables OEM partners or SIs to deploy FIN on thousands of sites which can all be instantly accessed remotely in a secure way via the cloud, without requiring complexity of VPNs or the need to open firewall ports, since the data link is "pushed" from the site and all connected devices are uniquely registered. Edge2Cloud includes comprehensive user management and device status monitoring.
Many existing building controls installations support the BACnet IP open standard protocol, or can be upgraded to add that support. In many cases, the quality of the supervisory software can be problematic for users as it is often far from user-friendly, and unless it has been recently installed it is unlikely to offer the features now expected by operational personnel to adequately manage the system. There is therefore often a very good economic case for upgrading the supervisory software. FIN Framework can connect to all the existing BACnet IP controllers and will tag the BACnet data so that it is more useful for analytics and energy management purposes. Using FIN will provide new features such as the ability to run site-wide fault detection diagnostics (FDD) and user friendly dashboards which can compare data against baselines for improved performance assessment. As the process of custom graphics creation is semi-automated by the tagging, the process of re-creating plant schematics and floor plans is much less time consuming than with other software options, and the result will be much easier for the operations team to use on a day to day basis. For advice about such an upgrade project contact us or one of our distributors.
This is the name of an open-source initiative that seeks to standardize the way in which metadata relating to building automation systems is defined. See the Project Haystack website for more details. FIN Framework has been developed from the beginning to fully utilize the advantages Haystack tagging offers. FIN includes various tools and wizards that greatly simplify the process of tagging data when it is linked to FIN, and the tagging enables automation of most configuration tasks that require manual set-up in all other BMS software. For the latest information about Haystack 4.0 which expands the standard to encompass data-modeling ontologies, download the Project Haystack overview or read our blog.
Yes, FIN Framework includes a Connector framework for the rapid development of support for wireless protocols. We, and some of our partners, have already developed some connectors for wireless protocols (connected to the host hardware platform via USB transceivers or IP gateways) these include Z-wave, EnOcean and LORA*. We have included features that enable the developer to optimize the frequency and size of communication transactions to minimize power consumption in the devices since many types are battery-powered.
* available from Coster Group
FIN Framework is hardware agnostic; J2 Innovations do not supply any hardware, but instead encourage our OEM partners to either manufacture their own custom platforms, or to buy-in from a third party suitable hardware platforms to run FIN on. There are now many embedded PC manufacturers who can provide hardware that is suitable for panel mounting in buildings. There are now also several OEM controls manufacturers who have ported FIN to their custom hardware with on-board serial ports and direct I/O, so these provide additional options. Contact our sales team for advice about this. See also our Hardware Compatibility web page.
J2 Innovations have a strong commitment to training, and have been running classses for both technicians and developers in both the North American and European markets. In 2020 we have broadened the range of training options, all of which can be found by visiting our FINstitute learning hub. All classes can now be taken virtually, and our introductory course options also include a self-taught guided-learning experience.