Control Supplement Fall 2017

Excerpt: 

Worth It's Weight

Our role at FieldComm Group has expanded since combining the Fieldbus Foundation and HART Communication Foundation. With the addition of FDI technology, our strategic importance in “simplifying the complexity” of process automation systems grows. As the integration technology of choice for many protocols, it is enabling users and suppliers to focus less on the underlying protocol and more on the data.

 

This is not to say protocols are less relevant, in fact quite the contrary. In talking to users, I hear one common theme, that regardless of IIoT initiatives, future architectures or newly available protocols, no one is “ripping out” field devices. These field devices are delivering data through robust protocols trusted by users to meet their performance, interoperability and security needs. In fact, it becomes increasingly clear that the IIoT will require many protocols.

 

So what does the future plant and enterprise look like at the field device level in the next 10 years? I think it is fair to say we will see a combination of HART, Foundation Fieldbus, HART-IP, WirelessHART and many others. Physical layers will include 4-20 mA, Ethernet, wireless and maybe more. The key to IIoT now becomes how we integrate these various protocols and what we do with the data they provide.

 

To develop standards, we use a collaborative working model that leverages hundreds of volunteer subject matter experts from more than 340 member companies. We also partner with organizations like the OPC Foundation to create “information models” that help extend field device information from the OT world to IT side where many users are less familiar with the origin and meaning of process data. FDI is one such standard that helps “simplify the complexity.” Use cases such as asset management, analytics, monitoring and diagnostic support across enterprises all require a common model to compare like information, regardless of protocol. The protocol is how it gets there, however, the use cases only care about the information!

 

Our cover article focuses on product registration and conformance services. As devices, hosts, and architectures become more complex, assured adherence to standards at the protocol and information model level is a requirement for maximizing captured value. In the past year, our verification team has completed new or updated registrations for nearly 200 products. Trust me, registration is worth its weight in gold!  

 

By continuing to build on the “gold standard” of our protocols, bridging them to the IoT and ensuring they conform to these standards, the industry can seize this data revolution to achieve improved performance in their operations and enterprises. FieldComm Group will be there to help each unique user capture the value of this revolution by meeting them where they are today and getting them there with many solutions from our technologies and from our members.  
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