More on wireless

Yokogawa snubs WirelessHART users at the launch of the “World’s first” ISA100.11a wireless transmitters.

van Loon snubs WirelessHart!

by Andrew Bond, Industrial Automation Insider

“ISA100 is the standard that has been developed by the user community, and expresses the wishes of the users, rather than the approach imposed by vendors, as exemplified by WirelessHART,” said Joost van Loon, Yokogawa Europe director of industrial automation. “Additionally ISA100 is technologically superior to other approaches, in that it can cover all the wireless solutions that might be required. Users have also requested just one standard, so in the Yokogawa view this should be ISA100.”

Van Loon was speaking at the launch of a range of ISA100.11a pressure and temperature transmitters and associated system interfaces at the 5th Yokogawa User Conference, held in The Netherlands from 24-25th June. He was supported by Penny Chen of Yokogawa global marketing, who is also vice chair of the Wireless Compliance Institute (WCI). In response to a query about possible changes to ISA100.11a when the ISA100.12 committee on convergence presents its findings later this year, she asserted that “It is very unlikely that any changes would be allowed to ISA100”. The Yokogawa Q+A sheet issued alongside the releases commented on convergence issues further: “In fact, end users are not choosing WirelessHART. The ISA100.12 committee has been advised by user input that there is “no need for backward compatibility with WirelessHART as there is no significant installed base”. Quite a snub for the existing users of WirelessHART systems!

Yokogawa excludes WirelessHART

In listening to the user community, Yokogawa is aware that there has been a request for one global wireless standard, and therefore stresses that their offering includes “openness and interoperability” as prime objectives at the heart of ISA100. However “the ideal scenario is unlikely to occur, with two wireless standards in use” and the Yokogawa interoperability does not extend to including WirelessHART in their plans.

The other major player in the ISA100 camp is, of course, Honeywell, and news releases came thick and fast around the Honeywell User Group meeting held in Phoenix (AZ US), from 13-17th June: several of these related to improvements to digital video monitoring and field instrument wireless networks, that are designed to be compliant with the ISA100.11a standard. Most of the questions at the interviews, and the HUG discussions reported, related to the topic of ISA100, and whether this standard will be modified in the near future to include IEC62591, now the WirelessHART standard.

ISA100 panel: user discussions continue
From a panel discussion on the convergence of ISA100 and WirelessHART, Pat Schweitzer of ExxonMobil, also co-chair of the ISA100 committee, had been trying to establish what users would want a combined standard to offer, and said NAMUR would issue a report on this topic in late June (NE133). Meanwhile Schweitzer reported that the ISA100.11a- 2009 standard is being corrected, and will be re-issued by December. Schweitzer also commented that the convergence discussions headed by the ISA100.12 committee also hoped to report by December.

The Honeywell corporate view of wireless monitoring and control is not restricted to Honeywell Process Systems: their wireless business is cross divisional – it is a corporate initiative to drive wireless across the whole business, whether this is aerospace, health and safety, life safety or process solutions. In an interview (podcast) with Walt Boyes of CONTROL Global, Ray Rogowski, business leader for their wireless initiative, stressed that they see a far larger potential for the OneWireless applications in addition to monitoring field sensors. Add to this that the Honeywell OneWireless system is really a combination of up to five wireless systems: the Honeywell approach is to create a wireless infrastructure that will support multiple wireless networks, multiple applications, with specific sensor developments to feed in, possibly on different types of wireless system – an example of this is the support for Wi-Fi devices in addition to the field sensor network.

The inevitable conclusion is that Honeywell would have no problem with running two wireless systems into their networks, WirelessHART and ISA100, if that is needed. The Matrikon acquisition reported last month will enable the integration of third party systems into the Honeywell system via an OPC link, again possibly over OneWireless. In the theme of following the Emerson THUM and the ABB FieldKey, Honeywell showed a new OneWireless Adaptor that connects to wired HART devices, and transmits the full diagnostic info to host systems via an ISA100.11a compliant wireless network, without any significant modification to the conventional 4- 20mA loop field wiring. Yokogawa also suggested that they would be supplying such an adaptor, sourced from a suitable third party supplier.

Support for ISA100 and WCI
With the new Yokogawa products compliant with ISA100.11a and GE and Yamatake joining the Wireless Compliance Institute board, alongside Yokogawa and Fuji, Honeywell and ISA100 have gained valuable support recently. However, their spokesmen continue to stress that any ISA100 standard must be based on the total customer requirement, and that these customers are requesting a single wireless standard.

But is that what they’re really asking for? Maybe Nivis has the answer. They have now launched a new wireless gateway capable of simultaneously working on both ISA100.11a and WirelessHART protocols. Confusingly, it’s just called the “Nivis WirelessHART Gateway”, presumably because there were only really WirelessHART sensors available when they named it! Nivis were one of the major suppliers of equipment for the original Arkema ISA100 trials (YouTube Video).  Trae Harrison, vp of sales and marketing, explained: “The addition of the WirelessHART Gateway to the Nivis product line enables customers to utilize either ISA100.11a or WirelessHART using the same platform: it is exactly what the marketplace is asking for.”

You can’t halp feeling that ISA, WCI and Yokogawa have been talking to a different lot of customers, unless, of course, they’ve only been asking the questions that give the answers they want to hear! Maybe we’re fast approaching the point where users will simply adopt WirelessHART and ISA100.11a as appropriate to their particular applications.

This article first appeared in the July 2010 issue of Industrial Automation Insider

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