WirelessHART Products and Interoperability

May 21, 2013
Interested in wireless networking options? Multiple suppliers provide WirelessHART products that interoperate, and the The HART Communication Foundation wants you to know where to find them.

2013 is not only the 10th anniversary of Automation World; it also marks the 20th anniversary of the HART Communications Foundation, developers of the HART communication protocol and WirelessHART technology. HART is a global standard for sending and receiving digital information across analog wires between smart devices and control or monitoring system. More specifically, HART is a bi-directional communication protocol that provides data access between intelligent field instruments and host systems.

When Automation World recently published its E-Book Special Report on Networks, we wanted to provide a solid overview of industrial networking technology for users in the continuous process, batch and discrete manufacturing industries that went beyond individual articles and new product announcements on the topic. Regarding wireless communications, we included information from the HART Communications Foundation as well as from the ISA100 Wireless Compliance Institute, which provides support for vendors designing products to ISA100.11a, an industrial wireless sensor networking standard that is competing with WirelessHart as an enabler of smart instrumentation.

The E-Book has been well received as a solid overview, but there’s more to be said. I heard from Martin Zielinski, director of HART and Fieldbus Technology for Emerson Process Management, and he wanted to make sure users knew some additional information.   

“I have just read your article, “Wireless Protocols for the Process Industries”, that appeared in your E-Book Special Report, “Networks: Wired and Wireless”.  Your article accurately points out the philosophical differences between WirelessHART® and ISA100.11a.  WirelessHART is all about making WirelessHART easy and straightforward for the end user to deploy.  ISA100.11a is all about flexibility and forcing end users to make choices about a communication technology—choices that can lead to configuration mistakes and end user frustration.  It is clear that a device utilizing ISA100.11a will not interoperate with WirelessHART based devices,” Zielinski says. 

“While it is implied, you do not explicitly state that within the WirelessHART communication protocol there are multiple suppliers whose WirelessHART products do interoperate,” Zielinski adds. “The HART Communication Foundation posts a list of WirelessHART registered products on their web site. Please point this fact out to your readers.”

At Automation World, we’re happy to point out such links for further information and discussion. For users who what to find out additional information or ask questions of WirelessHART users and product suppliers, Zielinski notes that the HART Communication Foundation hosts a forum for the entire HART protocol, of which WirelessHART is a part.  That forum can be found by clicking the “Advance Search” button toward the upper right hand corner of the foundation’s web page and searching for WirelessHART topics. Readers are also welcome to leave comments here to continue the discussion. 

Tomorrow I’ll post information that developers of the ISA100 standard would like users to know. 

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