The Fieldbus Foundation has released the latest version of its FOUNDATION for Safety Instrumented Functions (SIF) Interoperability Test Kit (ITK). This test solution has been updated with new test cases to verify the functionality of H1 (31.25 bit/s) fieldbus devices based on the current FOUNDATION for SIF technical specifications, including the newly introduced H1 dual-mode device capability employing powerful field diagnostics. FOUNDATION for SIF ITK 1.2 is designed for troubleshooting and debugging fieldbus instruments, and provides all hardware and software required to ensure a manufacturer's complete device interoperability as specified by the Fieldbus Foundation's official registration testing procedure. By using the test kit, device developers can run tests identical to those used by the foundation before submitting their device for registration. Fieldbus Foundation director-Fieldbus Products Stephen Mitschke said, "The updated FOUNDATION for SIF ITK verifies advanced functionality such as the new dual-mode H1 device capability allowing automation suppliers to bring new safety products to market without having to design two entirely different devices. Developers can implement H1 instruments with SIF features activated or de-activated. More importantly, this means that plants will only have to stock one type of instrument that can be used as either a process device or a safety device." According to Mitschke, multiple FOUNDATION for SIF pilot projects are underway at locations around the world with different end users. Saudi Aramco has successfully launched two pilot projects and is preparing to install working systems within operating oil and gas facilities. After these smaller pilot projects are complete, the company plans expanded deployment of FOUNDATION for SIF technology in order to exploit its benefits on larger, mega-scale projects. In addition, Shell Project & Technology has specified FOUNDATION for SIF for use on the Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM) project in the Netherlands. These companies, along with other major end users, are encouraging the automation equipment industry to develop safety-approved products for their initial installations. The FOUNDATION for SIF ITK includes a host of test cases verifying the functionality of a fieldbus device and its conformance with the FOUNDATION fieldbus function block and transducer block specifications. It also incorporates a DD "Super Viewer" allowing examination and verification of a device's DD, and a conformance test procedure for the Physical Layer. Device developers can "walk" their DD, execute methods, and render visualization elements supported by DD 5.1 technology. The interoperability test suite can be paired with an ITK automation tool designed to eliminate several manual intervention steps required when performing pre-registration testing of fieldbus devices. The tool improves ITK schedule efficiency and provides a direct reduction in the person-hours needed to complete the testing phase. It is available with a maintenance agreement to keep the test suite software up to date with the latest enhancements. FOUNDATION for SIF ITK 1.2 is available to current users with maintenance agreements, as well as for new purchases. For more information, please visit the Tools page of the Fieldbus Foundation Website or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
The Fieldbus Foundation today announced approval of a backhaul architecture model, developed in collaboration with International Society of Automation standards committee ISA100 that provides a common framework enabling multiple industrial communication protocols to run over a shared wireless backhaul network in process automation systems. Completion of this work is a key milestone supporting implementation of the Fieldbus Foundation's wireless High Speed Ethernet (HSE) backhaul included in FOUNDATION for Remote Operations Management (ROM) technology. In June 2008, ISA100 leaders established a new working group, ISA100.15—Wireless Backhaul Networks Working Group—to develop standards and technical reports to address one or more dedicated or shared wireless backhaul(s) to support technologies running multiple applications. At the same time, Fieldbus Foundation end user members identified the wireless backhaul as critical for FOUNDATION for ROM development. To expedite the work, the Fieldbus Foundation and ISA began joint collaboration on wireless networks combining Fieldbus Foundation application protocol expertise with ISA100 communication networking resources to complete the architecture model. ISA will publish the work as technical report ISA-TR100.15.01, Backhaul Architecture Model: Secured Connectivity over Untrusted or Trusted Networks, within the ISA100 family of standards. Dr. Penny Chen, principal systems architect with Yokogawa and co-chair of the ISA100.15 working group, praised the results of the wireless backhaul collaborative effort. "Working together, dedicated engineers have a developed a solution meeting industry requirements for a wireless backhaul transport network to facilitate interoperability, end-to-end security, and end-to-end quality of service in industrial wireless installations," Dr. Chen said. Dave Glanzer, Fieldbus Foundation director of technology development and co-chair of the working group commented, "The Fieldbus Foundation has consistently supported wireless advancements, and this joint initiative is crucial to FOUNDATION for ROM. Our ROM solution extends the capabilities of FOUNDATION fieldbus to countless wired and wireless devices installed in some of the world’s harshest and most remote locations. It provides a unified digital infrastructure for asset management in applications ranging from tank farms and terminals to pipelines, offshore platforms, and even OEM skids." According to Glanzer, plans are underway for a series of field demonstrations using the FOUNDATION for ROM wireless HSE backhaul. Major end users hosting the demonstrations include Reliance Industries (India), Petrobras (Brazil) and Saudi Aramco (Saudi Arabia). Additional end user sites in Japan and Europe are expected to join the program. The field demos will offer a look at the full functionality of FOUNDATION for ROM, including wireless device integration, remote I/O integration, and wireless backhaul capabilities.
The market for industrial wireless devices is growing rapidly, and a new report from Frost & Sullivan suggests the technology will soon be a critical part of plant optimization processes. The report, Analysis of Wireless Devices in European Industrial Automation Market, finds that the market earned revenues of $218.0 million in 2011 and estimates this to reach $539.5 million in 2016. "Wireless devices reduce maintenance costs, boost productivity and improve quality of production," said Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Anna Mazurek in a statement. "At the same time, initial implementation does not require vast restructuring or expensive machinery replacement. This combination of plant optimization, quick return on investment and easy installation is highlighting the benefits of industrial wireless automation." The study found that industrial wireless devices optimize the working of plant equipment through better asset allocation and monitoring machine health. They support plant staff with constant data access and easy communication. Constant and instant access to real-time data also supports enhanced operational flexibility and mobility. However, the perception of wireless devices as a non-critical improvement threatens to limit penetration levels. The technology provides end users with connections that are often already covered by wires and likely to last another decade. Moreover, plant managers do not yet perceive wireless technology as the harbinger of significant production process improvements. "End users need to realize that wireless technology not only replaces wires but has the potential to reshape and optimize production process," said Mazurek. "Vendor efforts to promote the technology have fallen short, particularly among the more reluctant potential wireless adopters." Wireless devices manufacturers need to educate end users not only about basic technological features, but also on the full range of usage benefits and opportunities offered by wireless communication. "Most importantly, end users will need to be educated on how the technology can be tailored to address their particular needs," said Mazurek. "The market needs another four to five years of pilot applications and technology trials to address all pending concerns about the technology performance and convince end users on the advantages of deploying industrial wireless devices."
The Fieldbus Foundation has released a major revision to its AG-181 System Engineering Guidelines.  AG-181 is a comprehensive guide that includes best practices and recommendations for a complete FOUNDATION fieldbus installation, from engineering and design through commissioning, startup, operations, and maintenance. The guide includes recommendations on topics from selecting cable to wiring installation, grounding, implementing plant asset management systems, and best practices for project management.The new edition of AG-181 has been reformatted and reorganized to make it easier to read and access information. Some content has been rewritten to include more up-to-date information. This includes sections covering the Fieldbus Intrinsically Safe Concept (FISCO) fieldbus design rules, cable length, surge protection and segment scheduling. A section on the use of existing wiring has also been added.According to Larry O'Brien, global marketing manager for the Fieldbus Foundation, the FOUNDATION fieldbus System Engineering Guidelines is "one of the automation industry's best-kept secrets" that belongs in the library of almost every process control engineer. It is a highly valuable resource for the growing number of end users, system integrators and engineering firms involved in the implementation of FOUNDATION fieldbus."One of the things we try to do at the Fieldbus Foundation is put information into the hands of those who need it around the world. We want people to become proficient in the use of our technology, from engineering and design to installation, maintenance, and operations," said O’Brien in a statement. "Our System Engineering Guidelines document contains the distilled wisdom of many of the world's leading fieldbus technology experts, from those in the engineering and construction world to end users, systems integrators, educators, and suppliers. It offers many good pointers on how to do your fieldbus project right the first time, and is an essential part of the toolbox of any FOUNDATION fieldbus professional. If you already have the older version, the latest update will look more streamlined and contains several new sections, as well as rewrites of old sections."The FOUNDATION fieldbus System Engineering Guidelines is separated into 11 sections, each covering different aspects of the fieldbus project lifecycle. Specific topics include: General Considerations, Fieldbus Definitions, Fieldbus Project Requirements, Host System Requirements, Software Configuration, Field Device Requirements, Segment Components, Network/Segment Design Guidelines, Site Installation Guidelines, Acceptance Testing, and Documentation Requirements.O'Brien indicated that the FOUNDATION fieldbus System Engineering Guidelines provides accurate and current fieldbus information in a vendor-neutral format, and is revised periodically to reflect changes to FOUNDATION technology. He said, "There is no better guide to implementing FOUNDATION fieldbus available today."To obtain the FOUNDATION fieldbus System Engineering Guidelines (Document Reference No. AG-181), visit the Fieldbus Foundation's Technical References page under the End User Resources section on The document can be downloaded in PDF format.
An increasing number of manufacturing organizations are looking at industrial networking as a discipline. Many of these companies are bringing together traditional automation engineering with corporate IT to gain a cross-functional view of how industrial network performance can be improved.In 2012, the need to reduce operations cost continues to be a pressure. As manufacturing processes become increasingly complex, manufacturers are asked to be more flexible and agile to meet their customer and global supply chain demands. At the same time, manufacturers are also pressured by the need to reduce the risk of adverse events, driving greater scrutiny and accountability. While this pressure has decreased from 37 per cent to 27 per cent, the focus on risk cannot be an afterthought. All of this translates into a greater need for timely and informed decisions, enabled by making real-time data available to more people in more locations than ever. Aberdeen used four key performance criteria to distinguish the Best-in-Class from Industry Average and Laggards, where the Best-in-Class are the top 20 per cent of performers, Industry Average are middle 50 per cent of performers, and Laggards are the bottom 30 per cent (Table 1).{nomultithumb}As Table 1 shows, the Best-in-Class companies are able to directly influence the efficiency of their network by optimizing their industrial network with an average of eight hours of network downtime per year (99.91 per cent uptime) as compared to Laggards, who experience 135 hours, or five days, (98.45 per cent uptime) of network downtime per year. At the same time, they are also able to reduce manufacturing operations costs by reducing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by 11 per cent. The Best-in-Class do this all while improving their manufacturing productivity with an OEE rate of 90 per cent and overachieving their operating margin by 25 per cent, compared to Laggards who only achieve 60 per cent and 5 per cent respectively. Business capabilities With millions of dollars invested in enterprise business and engineering systems, and millions more invested in process control and factory automation systems, companies are looking for ways to power the enterprise with a real-time capability that capitalizes on the untapped synergies of these two domains. The Best-in-Class enable this synergy by implementing the following business capabilities (Table 2). As more manufacturers are seeing the benefits of using Ethernet's Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) technology as their industrial communication standard, network architectures are changing. Manufacturers have to navigate the complex architectures and pick one that will ensure minimal network downtime, all while enabling the same productivity levels. To overcome this challenge, the Best-in-Class are first defining networking standards and then implementing those practices across their enterprise. Part of the challenge with industrial networking is that a lot of manufacturers do not know where to start. If there is a defined roadmap, it makes it much easier to implement and share best practices across the company. In addition to this, the Best-in-Class have outlined standardized practices for introducing new equipment and incorporating it into the network. When manufacturers do not properly connect their assets to the network, they risk not receiving the critical information from those assets. Providing and sharing these kinds of best practices across the company removes any frustration and doubt, and thus minimizes the time needed to implement, manage and maintain the system. At the same time, while these business processes are an important foundation, they can't be implemented without the right organizational structure. The Best-in-Class understand the importance of having an executive sponsor and ownership for improving the network architecture of the facility. Without a true budget holder, it becomes extremely difficult to find the funds needed to invest in equipment, services and training. Simultaneously, an organization needs a leader to drive the change in the culture. With the developments in technology, it has blurred the traditional lines between business (IT) domain and the real-time domain of control engineering and operations. This in turn has created a cultural battle between automation and control engineers and corporate IT. The Best-in-Class are forming cross-functional teams that include both IT and automation and control engineers to build out a network strategy that has a balanced view from all groups. Issues such as network topology, isolation, security and network management are critical - and why the Best-in-Class are developing teams with the domain knowledge to design, implement, and manage such environments. The cross-functional team needs the knowledge to make appropriate decisions around questions like: 'How are system upgrades and patches managed?' 'How should network traffic be managed to ensure mission-critical applications are getting the bandwidth they require?' Indeed, these issues cannot be overlooked and they drive the need for an organization to create better alignment between corporate IT and plant IT. The manufacturing industry is at a tipping point. As more and more facilities adopt Ethernet, it opens up the door to implementing different kinds of technologies that will only help improve manufacturing operations. Therefore, the Best-in-Class are quantifying these benefits and have the ability to calculate the cost-benefit of upgrading to new equipment and implementing the latest technology. Technology enablersIndustrial networks are a different animal from day-to-day business networks. Industrial networks differ from traditional networks in their need for determinism, reliability, and speed in the transmission of data. The network architecture is key to enabling the ability for manufacturers to gain real-time visibility into operations at the plant floor as well as at the executive level. When the network architecture isn't developed with both of these goals in mind, it leads to islands of disconnected networks from the field level to the manufacturing operations level to the enterprise level. In turn, this leads to many manufacturers having multiple networks at the same layer (with multiple skill sets and software) that do the same thing. As exemplified in the figure below, by using industrial Ethernet as the backbone for the network, manufactures can more easily integrate their manufacturing and enterprise network. In doing so, they are better able to connect the multiple applications from the field level to the manufacturing level to the enterprise level. In the traditional network architecture, there is a gap in the ability to bridge manufacturing and enterprise networks because manufactures are not using the same protocol. Instead, at the corporate level, they are only using TCP/IP and at the field level, they use multiple fieldbus protocols. Over the years, Aberdeen's research has seen the progression and adoption of industrial Ethernet in the manufacturing environment. In fact, Aberdeen’s Industrial Networking: Real-time Foundation for Manufacturing and the Enterprise uncovered that Best-in-Class have recognized the many benefits of industrial Ethernet and are twice as likely than their competitors to have a fully industrial Ethernet network architecture. Indeed, before an organization plans on implementing industrial Ethernet, they need to understand that it takes a combination of organization restructuring, defined best practices, and the ability to have real-time visibility from the network, to the plant level, to the executive level.Aberdeen's research has seen decision-makers at both the plant and enterprise level demand greater transparency to sense, detect, decide, and respond in time to take corrective and preventative action. Companies are looking to adopt the latest industrial networking technology to harness the real-time capability of the plant floor. To find out more about how the Best-in-Class are successfully implementing a reliable Industrial Network, read Aberdeen’s Industrial Networking: Real-time Foundation for Manufacturing and the Enterprise.Nuris Ismail is a research analyst with the Aberdeen Group. She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Reid Paquin is a research associate with the Aberdeen Group. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
The Fieldbus Foundation today announced registration of the first isolated device couplers based on its FOUNDATION H1 (31.25 kbit/s) device coupler test specification. Devices from MTL and R. Stahl successfully completed the foundation's rigorous registration process. As part of a FOUNDATION fieldbus infrastructure, isolated device couplers are installed where the fieldbus trunk (i.e., home run cable) is connected to the various device spurs. Isolated device couplers are specifically designed to allow automation end users to connect more devices per coupler while permitting live segment work in hazardous plant areas. These couplers provide isolated, conditioned power to multiple fieldbus devices and protect against short circuits caused by excess current in a spur. By enabling more devices per segment, they also help reduce controller input/output (I/O) points and associated installation costs.MTL's 9370-FB Series Fieldbus Barrier provides a range of complete integrated enclosure systems, instead of stand-alone barrier modules. All internal components are live pluggable, meaning that field maintenance can be carried out quickly and safely. Surge protection devices for the trunk and spurs can be easily fitted without requiring product re-design. The product series includes 6- and 12-spur versions in stainless steel or GRP enclosures, as well as a redundant option enabling improved system availability in critical fieldbus networks.R. Stahl's Series 9411/21 and 9411/24 isolated device couplers are suitable for use in Zone 1, Zone 2 and U.S. Division 2, and are available with plastic or stainless steel housings that can be tailored to fit customer requirements. The series also includes a unique power management feature: during the start-up of a fieldbus segment, the spurs energize one after the other. This reduces the inrush current on a segment by up to 50 percent, requiring less spare energy and making longer segment lengths possible.The Fieldbus Foundation's Stephen Mitschke, director-fieldbus products, commented, "The device coupler test specification provides a high level of robustness in fieldbus systems. And recent enhancements to the FOUNDATION fieldbus physical layer specifications provide end users with greater confidence that registered fieldbus equipment can be employed in a tightly integrated, interoperable control system architecture that is well suited to the most demanding industrial environments," Mitschke said.
The prospect of adding wireless devices to the process automation architecture is a compelling one from the perspective of tangible business benefits and incremental operational improvements. Availability of robust industrial wireless network protocols, such as WirelessHART and ISA100.11a, for use with IEEE standard technology makes the prospect even more attractive relative to past proprietary, often standalone wireless implementations. This potential is somewhat offset, however, by competition between these standards that leads customers to fear that wireless is emerging as the next platform for the automation fieldbus wars.
Virus problems in the office network are merely inconvenient when compared to expensive virus disruptions and unwanted data traffic in a production network. In order to minimize the risk of disturbances and production downtime caused by unauthorized access or malware, one leading manufacturer decided to implement greater security precautions.
With flexibility, cost savings and user-friendly characteristics, wireless technologies today can be seen in many applications and industries. One more recent arrival to the wireless scene is the automotive factory floor.
Honeywell's Limitless WDRR Wireless Din-Rail Receiver for industrial, construction, machine, material handling and heavy transportation applications, is a din-rail or panel-mountable receiver designed to receive wireless signals from up to 14 different position-sensing switches, and communicate the individual switch status to a PLC or any controllers capable of receiving NPN/PNP inputs. The Limitless wireless network includes the WDRR and WPMM receivers, and the WLS and WGLA limit switches; uses the global, license-free RF wireless 802.15.4 WPAN protocol; provides up to a 305 m (1000 ft) line-of-sight communication range; and prolongs battery life with advanced power management technology, the company says.
Is wireless better than a wired network? The answer is no; it's different. A plethora of wireless technologies exists to suit a variety of users. Is it for every application? No. But for many, wireless can be more flexible, versatile and cost effective than wired networks. Yet, questions regarding security, reliability and capacity of wireless continue to prevent conservative end users from reaping its benefits. Can these be overcome?
Manufacturing is an industry with complex operations, where the success of any organization lies in producing high quality products at lower costs at the right time. This requires companies to enable real-time visibility into operations at the plant floor and executive levels to make intelligent decisions. The Aberdeen Group, in collaboration with Manufacturing AUTOMATION, surveyed more than 150 executives to understand how industry leaders are taking advantage of industrial networking to enable real-time visibility into data to optimize production, maintenance and safety. Below are highlights from the survey.
More than 10 years ago, an automotive customer asked us to develop an RFID system that not only controlled part of the manufacturing process, but also reported data to their production control system. While interfacing with the local machinery was done using serial communication, all data transactions with production control utilized the plant's Ethernet system. The challenge was that there was not a suitable transaction protocol available, which meant that we had to define our own language to transmit the necessary information via TCP/IP, the Ethernet-based transport mechanism available at that time.
Emerson Process Management's Smart Wireless technology saved Atlas Pipeline - Westex an estimated $725,000 US in installation costs and improved production efficiency at Atlas' Benedum natural gas processing facility near Midkiff, Texas.
Mark Jarman, president of wireless sensor networks provider Inovonics, recently outlined major trends for wireless security systems for 2011. "People and assets are mobile, so security needs to be as well. People are 'connected' thanks to mobile devices, so they can stay linked to their security and data systems in real time," he explained. "When security is mobile, you need to be able to track it. People and assets are increasingly mobile, so Real Time Location Solutions (RTLS) will become increasingly important." Jarman's additional top predictions for 2011 include: 1. Integration of access control panels, video management systems and alarm sensors with IP-based security solutions will increase substantially. Jarman said there is a convergence that's been taking place in the security world with manufacturers of access control panels and video management systems integrating their systems into a cohesive IP-based solution. In 2011, development of IP-based specifications to achieve system-wide interoperability of IP security devices will accelerate and will soon become reality, forcing vendors to shift their product strategies to comply with the new requirements. 2. Location and situational awareness in conjunction with mobile security capabilities will become a key requirement of campus-wide security systems. Today, security guards are mobile and have smart phones or two-way radios driving the growing trend toward mobility. With an increasing number of security persons and human assets mobile these days, knowing where they are within a building or campus setting when they activate a duress alarm, such as a pendant, is mission critical. Then notifying others within that same environment via an integrated, easy-to-deploy and use mass notification system ensures they will get out of harm's way quickly and safely. 3. Wireless sensor networks in commercial settings will continue to gain traction against traditional hard-wired solutions due to their ease in extending monitored sensor types, speed of installation, cost savings and mobility, as well as overall reliability. Altogether, this will improve the tangible ROI property owners expect. Increasingly, security dealers and directors are leveraging wireless throughout their organizations for these reasons, especially when a security breech occurs and the weaknesses of wired solutions are exposed. "Wireless security systems are poised to take advantage of a number of market factors in 2011," said Jeff Kessler, managing director of Imperial Capital, a security market research and advisory firm. "In the coming years ahead, we will see security directors and integrators asking vendors to better integrate access control, video analytics and external sensors into a single view to achieve true Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) capabilities. Wireless systems will play an important part in this evolution." Echoing this same sentiment, Jarman added, "Despite all the advances in technology, one thing rings clear: an integrated security solution needs to be simple, not over-featured. As elegant as many integrated solutions can be, their sheer complexity can make them fall short of expectations for usability, and therefore performance, reliability and in realizing a return on investment. That is why simple to install, easy-to-use, reliable and cost-effective wireless systems will gain growing acceptance among security directors and integrators across many markets in the years ahead."
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