Training Is Critical

Sidebar to "Fieldbus Reigns in Process Control" from the October 2007 issue of Automation World

Correct training can make or break a fieldbus implementation. Those with sufficient training describe fieldbus implementation as fairly painless. Not so for those who skip the training. “I was speaking to a user who was installing Profibus PA (process automation) and he definitely experienced a sharp learning curve,” says Carl Henning, associate director of the Profibus Trade Organization (PTO). “He wished he had spent a week off site in training.”

DeKalb County, Ga., water plant managers found that training made their adoption of fieldbus fairly easy. “The installation is much easier if you know what you’re doing,” says Merat Zarreii, F&T division manager at the DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management, in Stone Mountain, Ga. “Because of training, we have very competent technicians. And our integrator also sent four people to training.”

Larry O’Brien, research director at ARC Advisory Group Inc., in Dedham, Mass., also believes that training is critical to successful use of fieldbus. “One of the things I’ve been challenging suppliers to do is make the technology easy. Right now it’s not easy,” says O’Brien. “You have to prepare for fieldbus by training, and not just training the operators, but also training field personnel.”

Training on fieldbus is provided from a number of sources—from vendors who train on their products to fieldbus organizations such as Foundation Fieldbus, PTO and the Hart Communication Foundation. A number of colleges and universities also offer training. Lee College, in Baytown, Texas, offers fieldbus training as part of its two-year instrumentation and control degree. The school also offers commercial fieldbus training. “We balance our training between commercial and academic,” explains Chuck Carter, center director and principal investigator for the Fieldbus Center at Lee College. “We teach how to install, configure and troubleshoot.”

He notes that the training includes diagnostics, even though there has not yet been a big interest in that area of fieldbus use. He expects that will change as plants learn the benefits of diagnostics and asset management. “They’re interested in installation because of the savings in wring. With a reasonably trained design group, you’ll save on the installation,” says Carter. “But the real savings comes with using the data for diagnostics.”

He touts the value in his courses because of their technology independence. “The vendors do a good job with the education, but they’re going to provide an understanding of their offerings,” says Carter. “We work with all the standards and see how they apply. We don’t intend to change minds about what standard to use. We just want to make people aware of what’s out there.”

 To see the main story this sidebar was taken from  "Fieldbus Reigns in Process Control"  - please visit http://www.automationworld.com/view-3554
 

 

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