HCF Rolls Out WirelessHart Compliance Verification Tool

Vendors are targeting fourth quarter shipments for initial WirelessHart-compliant products.

With the first WirelessHart-compatible devices expected for availability in this year’s fourth quarter, the Hart Communication Foundation (HCF, www.hartcomm.org) recently announced another step aimed at supporting the market for these products.

The HCF said on Aug. 11 that it has released the new Wi-Analys Compliance Verification Receiver—a tool critical to the development and compliance testing of WirelessHart devices. The Wi-Analys receiver allows vendors that are designing new wirelessly enabled Hart devices to fully test and analyze their WirelessHart radio transmissions.

Nine vendors

The emergence of the tool comes on the heels of an “early WirelessHart implementers conference” held at HCF headquarters in mid-July, says Ron Helson, HCF executive director. Representatives from nine companies attended that event, and they are expected to be among the first to introduce WirelessHart products, Helson notes. The nine companies in attendance were ABB, Airsprite, Dust Networks, Emerson Process Management, Endress+Hauser, MacTek, Pepperl+Fuchs, Siemens and Yokogawa.

“The first introductions of WirelessHart-compliant products are likely going to be in October, or maybe November,” Helson predicts. “And probably the first ones will only be suitable for general-purpose, or non-hazardous areas.”

That timing squares with vendor projections. At Emerson Process Management (www.emersonprocess.com), for example, Steve Ekblad, director of global wireless sales and marketing, confirms that his company’s first WirelessHart-compliant products are planned for shipment in early October. Emerson’s WirelessHart adapter products will ship in early 2009, says Ekblad, who is based in Chanhassen, Minn. In line with the WirelessHart standard, the adapter products will enable users of existing Hart-enabled instruments to wirelessly capture currently unused digital diagnostic data from the devices.

WirelessHart, part of the Hart 7 Specification, was approved by the HCF board last September, and is the first wireless industrial standard developed for use in process measurement and control applications. A mesh networking technology, WirelessHart is based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard promulgated by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The ISA100 standards committee of the Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society (ISA), which is developing a family of universal industrial wireless standards, created a subcommittee last May aimed at incorporating WirelessHart.

15 channels

The newly released Hart Wi-Analys Compliance Verification Receiver “is designed to capture all 802.15.4 transmissions operating in the 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) frequency range but focuses on those from WirelessHart devices,” says Ed Ladd, HCF director of technology programs. “The receiver has the capability of capturing data on 15 WirelessHart channels simultaneously and at a speed of up to 1,000 messages per second.”

Even as a prototype, the device has proven invaluable in validating WirelessHart compliance to the standard by exposing anomalies in initial prototype devices sent to the Foundation for device registration, the HCF says. The Wi-Analys receiver has passed all required Federal Communication Commission and European CE tests and is now available to verify Hart compliance.

Emerson Process Management
www.emersonprocess.com

Hart Communication Foundation
www.hartcomm.org


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