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ISA Reports Progress on Wireless Standard

The Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society (ISA, has reported a milestone on the road to the development of a wireless industrial standard.

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At a recent ISA-SP100.11a working group meeting in Karlsruhe, Germany, 60 attendees unanimously approved the scope and systems architecture of Release 1 of the draft standard, the ISA said.

“ISA-SP100.11a Release 1 will be an open standard for anyone to implement and deploy. The standard will be simple to use, and will be focused on serving process industry applications without excluding factory automation,” said ISA-SP100.11a lead editor and co-chair Pat Kinney, of Kinney Consulting LLC, Export, Pa.


Release 1 is intended to provide technology to address Class 1 (non-critical) to Class 5 applications, such as monitoring. The standard will assure multi-vendor device interoperability, and will include only 2.4 Gigahertz (GHz) IEEE 802.15.4-2006 radios, the ISA said, in reference to the latest revision of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics
Engineers-promulgated standard. The work of the committee will adhere to a comprehensive coexistence strategy, and will use channel hopping to support coexistence and increase reliability. The standard will use a single application layer, providing both native and tunneling protocol capability for broad usability, and provide simple, flexible, and scaleable security addressing major industrial threats. The standard will also offer field device meshing and star capability.

The system architecture will include provisions to accommodate alternate physical layers in future releases, support factory automation applications, support low latency applications and will not preclude low cost implementations over the life cycle of the intended deployments.

Coming this fall

A draft of the standard will be complete by October 2007, the ISA said. “The contributions of technology and knowledge from suppliers are proving to be an invaluable part of allowing us to move our work forward. Several companies have made significant technology and resource contributions throughout the initial stages of the standard committee’s work. Likewise, the input from asset owners about their experiences and needs are critical to the work of our committee,” said ISA-SP100 Committee Chair Wayne Manges, of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Oak Ridge, Tenn. “The extensive use case data that we have collected over the past year provides a solid foundation on which we can merge user needs with practical technology solutions to achieve a useful standard.”

Evolving options

During the meeting in Germany, the working group also agreed that the second release will include critical Class 1 to 5 applications in addition to monitoring; additional gateway functionality as needed; additional network manager functionality as needed; and dual or alternate physical layers such as narrow band frequency hopping, sub-GHz, licensed bands, high speed, 5 GHz, and other options. All requirements will be user-driven.

“We expect that the technical options that we explore will evolve and change as we work on this draft. If we continually keep our goal in mind of making sure that this standard is the best possible standard for the users in the process and manufacturing communities, we’ll be successful,” said Manges.

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