Wireless moves! More on ISA100 from Nick Denbow

“Honeywell ‘moves on’ with ISA100 specified!” says Nick Denbow in this item from the April issue of  Industrial Automation and Process Control Insider

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Nick Denbow

Last month the INSIDER discussed the abandonment of the ISA100.12 committee deliberations, without any final result or report. This has produced no comment or reaction from the ISA directly: while they do not subscribe to the INSIDER, they were provided with an advance copy of that issue.

What is more interesting is that a correspondent with close links to Honeywell has confirmed that all “new” OneWireless instruments from Honeywell are now shipped with the ISA100.11a protocol.

Development history
The Honeywell involvement with wireless transmitters, and indeed their ‘OneWireless’ systems pre-dated the ISA100 standard. Indeed Honeywell put in a lot of expertise and specification suggestions gained from their OneWireless systems into the ISA100 standard development process. OneWireless did have a different protocol to the standard that eventually emerged as ISA100.11a. However, Honeywell made the commitment that “all OneWireless pre-ISA100 instruments supplied will be upgradable, or able to migrate to, ISA100 wireless”.

• See also Gary Mintchell’s “Puzzlement In Industrial Wireless Network Land,” written on his return from the Hannover Fair!

Latest release from Honeywell
Honeywell issued a press release early in April, announcing a new version of OneWireless, which is named as “Release 210 (R210)”. This stated to include “over-the-air field device provisioning and a Gateway General Client Interface made possible by the ISA100 standard”. Ray Rogowski, global marketing director for wireless in HPS is also quoted to say: “With OneWireless Release 210, users can benefit from the flexibility and scalability offered by the ISA100 standard….”.

This does seem to be a statement from Honeywell fairly definitely saying that OneWireless Release 210 will be using ISA100, which is a welcome change of emphasis compared to previous news releases. To interpret some of the phrases used I spoke to Soroush Amidi in their Networks and HPS Wireless Solutions Team.

The official HPS view
1wirelesshwellAmidi explained the OneWireless history, in relation to the release versions quoted. Full exproduction ISA100 compatibility came not after the addition of the Cisco Aironet 1552 access point in November 2011, as previously assumed by the INSIDER, but with Release R200, which was announced in June 2010: so actual deliveries started approx from 1-1-2011. In fact, the Cisco Aironet access point was introduced for clients who preferred to have Cisco systems in their IT structure, and needed the wifi interface also provided. Diederik Mols, introducing the Aironet at the HUG European meeting (INSIDER November 2011 page 5) specifically mentioned Shell in this context. The HPS Multinode and separate Field Device access points are both still available and offered with R210.

Prior to R200, the OneWireless R120 had offered all the functionality of ISA100, but did have a different protocol to the standard that emerged as ISA100.11a. However, Amidi stated that “all OneWireless R120 systems and instruments can be upgraded to ISA100 wireless using an over-the-air download”, if the customers have a need to move up/upgrade to this R200 level. In a similar way R200 systems can be migrated to R210 using another over-the-air software upgrade.

New OneWireless features
With R210 Amidi explained the language used in the recent press release, which originates somewhat from the detailed, somewhat esoteric wording of the ISA specification work. Field device ‘provisioning’ relates to the initial acceptance of a new device onto the network, by passing over the network access code: the ISA standard has the option for clients to do this either wirelessly, or via a local infra-red communications device, which is seen to add more security in some situations.

More interesting perhaps is the Gateway General Client Interface (GCI). HPS says  “The GCI feature, enabled by the ISA100 standard, allows operations to continue using legacy protocols and proprietary applications while making it easier to wirelessly expand those applications throughout the plant. The GCI also allows third party client applications to communicate natively using proprietary or common field protocols with wireless field instruments over the ISA100 network.”

GCI examples
Soroush Amidi explained this in terms of working with Enraf radar level gauge systems, which use a proprietary protocol to send custody transfer data to the Enraf Entis Pro software application, or GE Bently Nevada vibration monitoring systems which use a proprietary protocol to send the vibration signatures to their System 1 software application. This data can be wrapped in an ISA100 compatible packet, which is allowed within ISA100, and transmitted over the network, for unwrapping at the other end, and delivery to the appropriate analysis system: the whole process is described as ‘tunneling’ the data. Vendors such as Enraf and Bently Nevada are pleased to take advantage of this system, says Amidi, as it retains their intellectual property and proprietary information processing, takes advantage of a plant wide wireless network, but does not require the significant development work and investment by them in producing a fully ISA100 compliant sensor.

Further information on ISA100
Amidi pointed out that much of the information about ISA100 installations is passed by personal contacts, and by such routes as the ISA100 interest group on ‘Linked in’ – where Amidi seems to have been the main recent commentator. A recent addition there is a video from the ISA WCI technical seminar in Kyoto back in 2011, where Berry Mulder from Shell Global Solutions, who is also a director of WCI, explains why wireless is so important to Shell.

Wireless gas alarms
The Shell presentation laid emphasis on the need for wireless gas detection (and personnel location) which brought to mind the Honeywell wireless gas detector, a product development mentioned as essential in relation to the Shah Gas project some two and a half years ago (INSIDER November 2010 page 3, and November 2011 page 7). Still no listing for such a product on the WCI ISA100 product lists, so presumably the devices that were quoted as delivered to Shah Gas in 2012 used plain OneWireless compatibility.

GasSecure on WCI list
However, the GasSecure infra-red hydrocarbon gas detector from Norway mentioned at the Invensys OpsManage11 conference (INSIDER November 2011 page 7) does have a WCI listing, even if no approval is quoted.

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