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Significant Fieldbus Foundation Advance

There are two questions that many have had regarding the direction of the Foundation Fieldbus specification. The first is how will the network organization use its High Speed Ethernet (HSE) protocol. The second concerns how the various wireless technologies will play in the network. Those questions found answers on Dec. 1 in Baytown, Texas at a Fieldbus Foundation Media Day at Lee College. The day was divided between announcements and discussion regarding several new specifications and technologies and a discussion and tour of Lee College’s extensive training and labs for instrumentation technicians.

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The overall technology is dubbed Remote Operations Management. The essential components of the platform which will, among other benefits, provide a more powerful SCADA experience as well as further empower the mobile worker, include ability to handle greater point-count Remote I/O and ability to incorporate various wireless standards including ISA 100.11a of the International Society of Automation and WirelessHart of the Hart Communication Foundation.

Wireless and Remote I/O

The Fieldbus Foundation (www.fieldbus.org) announced the latest progress on its Wireless and Remote I/O (WIO) technology, including a suite of solutions to assist automation suppliers in developing WIO devices. WIO will enable the utilization of an open, interoperable fieldbus automation infrastructure incorporating both Foundation fieldbus High Speed Ethernet (HSE) and industrial wireless applications.

The WIO development is part of the Fieldbus Foundation’s continuing initiative to design and deploy an infrastructure that will accommodate evolving wireless standards inclusive of WirelessHart and ISA100.11a. The foundation’s WIO gateway provides an interface to both technologies and uses Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) and Function Blocks to provide interoperability with the other WIO gateways.

The Foundation further announced that its Foundation High Speed Ethernet Remote I/O (HSE-RIO) preliminary specification is now available to its membership for review. Part of the foundation’s Wireless and Remote I/O initiative, this specification defines the first in a series of interoperable gateways (a smart RTU) to bring control I/O (both analog and discrete) back to plant automation systems over the an international standard, high-speed network.

Distributed function blocks

Within the Foundation automation architecture, H1 (31.25 kbit/s) and HSE (100 Mbit/s) provide a distributed function block capability with HSE serving as a larger pipeline offering increased speed and throughput. The WIO development expands these capabilities by establishing open, non-proprietary specifications for a wired HSE backhaul network, a wireless HSE backhaul integrating various wireless gateways, and an interface to wireless field device networks. HSE-RIO technology provides an efficient way to bring large concentrations of discrete and analog field I/O from modular devices back to the control room using a high-speed HSE connection. The addition of remote I/O further tightens the integration of process instrumentation within a Foundation control system infrastructure.

The organization further announced that it has issued a Foundation Wireless and Remote I/O (WIO) preliminary specification addressing fieldbus transducer blocks for wired Hart and WirelessHart devices, together with updates to the WIO System Architecture and WIO Data Structures related to the transducer block specification.

Part of the Foundation for Remote Operations Management solution implementing wireless and remote I/O, the new technical specification defines a fieldbus transducer block used to represent Hart devices within Foundation for Remote Operations Management devices. Both wired Hart and WirelessHart devices may be represented in this block. In addition, the specification describes the expected method for Hart configuration tools and asset-managing hosts to access Hart devices using the native Hart command protocol transported through the Foundation High Speed Ethernet (HSE) network. The specification also defines structures to identify and maintain Hart device status in wired multi-drop networks as well as in WirelessHart mesh networks connected to Foundation for Remote Operations Management devices.

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