We have been following with some interests the machinations and twists and turns of the Industrial Wireless debate for this past few years. Though not as convuluted as the fieldbus wars of a decade or so ago there has still been a lot of verbiage used up to describe what is happening, and justify positions.
Last October at what turned out to be the last ISAExpo the launch of ISA100.11a was hailed with some enthusiasm and a visit to the Houston (US) Arkama plant (see Industrial Ethernet Book report), was organised after which one of the journalists proclaimed, “ISA 100 works!” This trip was also reported in the Industrial Ethernet book.
At the Emerson European of new products and their new offerings designed with facing the new paradox of inexperience of personnel and complexity of process, Peter Zornio discussed his company’s attitude to this new standard and Wireless Hart. (Described in a side box in our report Conquering Complexity). Emerson are commited to Wireless HART but that in the event of ISA100.11a “catching on,” our words not his, they will of course provide product to this standard as well.
But ISA100.11a stumbled at the ANSI fence for reasons explained in an item from the Januray 2010 issue of Industrial Automation Insider, Wireless ball back in ISA’s court.
So now what is happening?
From a recent release from ISA we learn the next act of this drama. The ISA100 standards committee, Wireless Systems for Automation, will hold a series of meetings at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, Florida, 9-11 February. Subcommittee ISA100.12 will meet each day of the event, and will address the key topic: long-term convergence of the WirelessHART specification with the ISA-100.11a standard.
The ISA100.12 subcommittee is chartered with completing numerous tasks to provide developers with meaningful information to achieve convergence and end-users with educational materials to allow for successful installations of both WirelessHART and ISA-100.11a systems in a pre-converged environment. Included in these tasks is the development of a phased convergence specification to converge WirelessHART and ISA-100.11a. Ongoing work within ISA100.12 includes:
- A recommended practice, prepared along with the ISA100 Co-Existence working group, which will describe techniques for end users for achieving best performance between WirelessHART and ISA-100.11a networks that are installed in the same facility and in overlapping radio space. This document is planned to be completed later in 2010.
- A comparison document that outlines the differences between ISA-100.11a and WirelessHART, nearing completion, which will serve two purposes: First, it will serve as an official ISA100.12 technical comparison document for end users. Second, it will provide a starting point to begin the process of converging ISA-100.11a and WirelessHART.
- An ISA recommended practice, planned for completion in the first half of 2010, which will define approaches for a single wireless field device to be provisioned or configured to run either ISA-100.11a or WirelessHART. This is an important step in the process and will help to preserve the technology investments that early adopters have incurred.
Watch this space!Other ISA100 working groups that will meet in Orlando include Factory Automation, Trustworthy Wireless, Networking, User Guide, Backhaul, Zigbee, Power Sources, and Nuclear Applications.