Fieldbus Foundation, HART Communication Foundation Discuss Potential Merger

Sept. 25, 2013
Memorandum of understanding signed to explore creating a unified industrial networking organization that would focus on intelligent device communications in the world of process automation.

As industrial networks proliferate and the benefits of all-encompassing communications systems become clear, end users are expressing the need for digital fieldbus connectivity and the desire for easier interoperability among various fieldbus technologies and networking protocols. Two of the largest organizations—the Fieldbus Foundation and the HART Communication Foundation—are addressing those needs by announcing the potential for merging the two organizations.

A single industry foundation would “could better leverage the complementary benefits of the technologies [and] create more cooperation and collaboration” dedicated to the needs of intelligent device communications in the world of process automation, according to a statement. The merger offers significant potential to harmonize many aspects of Foundation Fieldbus and Hart protocols, making it easier for end users and suppliers to implement the technology and obtain the full benefits of each in plant operations and maintenance. 

The two organizations announced a memorandum of understanding to explore “a merger of equals” that, in addition to the above benefits, would provide improved economies of scale by merging the training and education, testing and registration, tradeshow and event participation, online presence and social media strategies of the two organizations. Members of both groups “should see increased efficiencies and reduced total costs as more and more standards, processes and procedures are harmonized,” said the statement.

Both the Foundation fieldbus and Hart specifications would continue to exist separately and evolve, and both would continue to support the wireless strategies that exist today within each organization. The goals of both organizations include improved products and services and increased market share of digital devices in the total device market.

The HART Communication Foundation lists a global membership of more than 285 companies. The Fieldbus Foundation's global membership includes more 350 controls and instrumentation suppliers and end users. In preliminary discussions, the presidents of the two organizations, Richard J. Timoney of the Fieldbus Foundation and Ted Masters of the HART Communication Foundation noted that many synergies already exist. “We are both confident that today's decision to investigate the merger of these two organizations provides momentum for a major step forward in the evolution of intelligent devices and the world of industrial communications,” they said in a joint statement.

History of cooperation

The two organizations have worked extensively together in the past and have a long history of cooperation. For example, they have worked together on the development of common international standards such as Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) and, most recently, the development of the Field Device Integration (FDI) specification.

The chairmen of the two organizations—Dr. Gunther Kegel of the Fieldbus Foundation and Mr. Mark Schumacher of the HART Communication Foundation—issued the following statement on behalf of their Boards of Directors:

“We believe combining the resources and capabilities of each foundation into a single organization will provide significant benefits to both end users and suppliers. For end users, a single organization that combines the power of both Fieldbus Foundation and HART Communication Foundation would provide a full solution that addresses every conceivable aspect of field communications and intelligent device management for the process industries. For suppliers, a single organization would create efficiencies in resource utilization, consistency of processes and procedures, and would deliver significant improvements in member services and support.”

For more information, users can download a Frequently Asked Questions document, or contact the Fieldbus Foundation at 512.794.8890 or [email protected].

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