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Hot off the Press! Spring 2014 Fieldbus Report

Be sure to check out the newly released Fieldbus Report posted today! The bi-annual Fieldbus Report is your resource for all things FOUNDATION. It has the latest news, fieldbus solutions, programs and initiatives being developed by the Fieldbus Foundation. It also contains a comprehensive list of the latest registered fieldbus products so you can be sure you keep up to date with the latest technological advances.

ImageBe sure to grab a copy and read about the new Fieldbus Foundation Usability initiative we’ve been writing about! You can find the latest Fieldbus Report (as well as past versions) by going here: Fieldbus Report

Other stories include; 20th Anniversary Update, FDI, ROM, DSP, People in Fieldbus etc.

FOUNDATION Fieldbus is the Process Industry Work Horse

It’s time we give Jim Montague over at Control Global a head nod for his recent coverage of the process fieldbuses. For those of you who have been following Jim’s writing you know he has been quite the advocate for Ethernet, but it is his most recent writings on the current state of the process industries that have been the most enlightening. “Okay, so it’s obvious that fieldbuses never went away. It turns out I was too focused on over-hyped technology trends and wasn’t paying enough attention to what was going on in the real world” said Jim.

In our current world of faster and faster processors, bigger and bigger hard drives and our unquenchable thirst to consume information, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest “sexy” new tech development that promises to be faster and better than the previous. Wireless was the sexiest new thing for a while until common sense kicked in and people started realizing that while it has some killer applications (large rotating equipment was one great example I heard), it doesn’t fit everywhere and frankly can’t be used everywhere. As with all technology, the market ultimately dictates where and how technology will be used and more often than not common sense applications drive implementation. This is the reason that Ethernet hasn’t yet grasped the process industry. It just wasn’t necessary. The killer application wasn’t there yet. FOUNDATION fieldbus’ HSE has seen slow adoption because prior to FOUNDATION for ROM, there wasn’t a strong value proposition since the increased speed alone wasn’t needed. (FOUNDATION for ROM certainly has changed the HSE landscape and a very strong value proposition exists now for HSE, but that’s a topic for another day.)

Unlike the internet service providers of the world who have to meet the demands of users streaming massive high definition video files, the process industry is a historically slow moving giant with slow moving networks. Why is that?  Simple, because faster networks have just not been needed. A “large” file in the world of FOUNDATION fieldbus is a DD download of something in the neighborhood of 2 MB. In fact, did you know that the average file size of a registered FOUNDATION fieldbus DD in 2012 was 640 KB? That’s right. Kilobytes. By comparison, the average file size for a single MP3 music file is somewhere in the ballpark of 6 MB. That’s almost 10 times larger than an average DD file. Despite the obvious sufficiency of “slow” speed fieldbus networks, Ethernet seemed to be the next “sexy” tech advancement where speed and common interface connectivity would take over the industry. Jim Montague, however, seemed to come to the realization that Ethernet may just be another big uproar that doesn’t have the strong footing it might otherwise want our industry to believe. After all, is Ethernet actually addressing a user’s needs or is it an advancement for the sake of advancement?

Jim’s take on it is that while there is a lot of media buzz going on right now about Ethernet, the true work horse of the process industries quietly lumbers along at 31.25 kbps picking up project win after project win all while meeting the needs of the user today and in future expansion projects.

Jump on over and read Jim’s article on Control Global’s website called “Fieldbus Protocols Support All Processes“.

VirtualMarshalling IS the future of Distributed I/O

While hosted our seminar in Chicago this week, I was reminded about distributed I/O alternatives out there in the industry and it warranted a bit of discussion. For those that don’t have copies of our latest Fieldbus Report (Spring 2013), you may have missed an article Larry O’Brien at the Fieldbus Foundation has recently put together a document on the future of distributed I/O. The interested thought-provoking premise behind it is that the future of distributed I/O has actually been around for quite some time with FOUNDATION fieldbus.

Why are there others who try to make physical distributed I/O smarter or better when it can be easily eliminated entirely? With FOUNDATION Fieldbus, individual physical I/O points have long been replaced by software based distributed I/O, meaning multiple signals are carried over one single H1 cable. There are no custom hardware configurations or additional hardware components to purchase. It all comes pre-canned with FOUNDATION fieldbus. Blocks can be linked together virtually in the software without the added work, cost and labor of running additional wiring. This is what we’ve dubbed “VirtualMarshalling”. It is the future that is already available today. It’s a bit like those Samsung Galaxy commercials of today that take pokes at the iPhone with their tagline “The Next Big Thing is Already Here”. In the realm of industrial process control, the next big thing is already here and it is called VirtualMarshalling. 
Check out our paper on VirtualMarshalling below and learn how returning to the basics actually provides you with the competitive edge, all built-in. Remember, FOUNDATION fieldbus was built by end users wanting a better technology built specifically for Process Control that can replace the outdated 4-20 from days yore. 
Back to Basics with VirtualMarshalling
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