It seems digital process fieldbus can’t get away from people saying “it’s too hard” or “growth is flat”, yet every day in other areas of people’s lives they continue to adopt more and more digital technology. While unsettling as it is to hear that, the most unsettling part is that there seems to lack any evidence to support the conclusion. Why does someone believe it’s too hard? Where can they point to prove there is a stall in digital fieldbus growth? Somehow a message gets disseminated that fieldbus has reached some peak despite data from ARC stating fieldbus is still growing at double digit rates.
Are there regions where fieldbus isn’t as widely adopted as alternatives? Certainly. But are there also areas where fieldbus is overwhelmingly the de facto standard? You bet. It’s hard to argue there have not been projects that should have gone fieldbus, and instead went 4-20mA. It’s also hard to argue there have been projects that seemed certain to go 4-20mA but ultimately stepped into modern fieldbus. There are fieldbus “physics” to be considered. For a given negative story, there is an equal and opposite positive success story to counter. So what then are we to believe?
The Fieldbus Foundation sees it this way: user demand is responsible for driving registrations of fieldbus devices… and as of August 2014, user demand has pushed manufacturers to register record setting numbers of FOUNDATION capable process instruments.
Understanding the Impact of User Demand on RegistrationsThe data below is for FOUNDATION fieldbus specifically. It is sourced directly from our registration data and reflects a growth in FOUNDATION fieldbus by way of user demand driving increased development and registration.
When digital fieldbus was first introduced, there were only a handful of available device types. Today, thanks to user demand, there is a wide array of available devices to fit nearly every possible application each with their own unique set of capabilities and advantages.
This same user demand has led to the Fieldbus Foundation registering more devices with more companies every single year as it outpaces itself in frequency and rate of registration every year over the last 3 years. The Fieldbus Foundation also averaged roughly 15 new member companies per year during that same period.
As one can see, not only has FOUNDATION fieldbus been growing, it has just had the highest product registration month in all of 2014, registering nearly 30 devices. In fact, digging back through data to 1998, growth of product registrations with FOUNDATION fieldbus has never declined or become flat even once.
Looking closer at the sharp increase experienced in August (the end of the red line in the chart above), the Fieldbus Foundation actually had the highest number of product re-registrations since 2001…and we’re only now entering the 4th quarter of 2014. Additionally, the Fieldbus Foundation just registered the 3rd highest number of new product registrations since its founding. At current trends, the organization is projected to see the largest number of device re-registrations and new registrations in the 20 year history of the foundation. Let that sink in for a minute.
So what do the spikes in registrations mean? Well for starters, it means there is a clear and present economic business model for FOUNDATION fieldbus that manufacturers are capitalizing on. As the world has long since entered the digital age in nearly every facet of its life, it is only natural the process industries do the same. Digital provides obvious advantages over traditional analog systems, and Fieldbus Foundation feels that user demand comes from stronger standardization in the areas that the users require it and more flexibility where the users need it.
As the usability and simplicity of FOUNDATION fieldbus continues to improve and meet the needs of the user community, growth will continue as users demand more information and better awareness from their devices to run efficient operations that make reliable high quality products.
Beyond the growth comparisons to the registration program, the Fieldbus Foundation has seen continued rise and involvement in social media across the globe. The official Fieldbus Foundation LinkedIn Group now has nearly 1,900 members and increases an average of 60 members per month. LinkedIn has shown itself to be a valuable way to communicate about FOUNDATION fieldbus installations with other industries experts. The level of interaction on each discussion post is impressive.
The @FOUNDATIONField twitter account has 1,885 followers as of this post with similar growth rates as the LinkedIn group. Twitter provides an immediate way people to interact with the organization and to read about current news and events natively on their mobile platform. Again, its the continued growth trend that illustrates user demand for FOUNDATION fieldbus.
The Fieldbus Foundation also utilizes a YouTube channel that has proven effective for spreading educational videos on FOUNDATION technology. It allows the organization to share great “how-to” videos and direct viewers to appropriate content they find useful when visual illustration is needed. For example, one of the most watched videos on the channel is a simple “how to” on wiring H1 fieldbus cable. This video alone has amassed over 16,000 minutes of viewing time. Growth in user demand for fieldbus has generated 50% more engagement in 2014 then in 2013. These numbers will continue to grow and expand as awareness of the channel increases.
The Fieldbus Foundation continues to see double digit growth across the globe and it shows in both the registration program and social conversations. Users demand smarter instruments, more efficient systems and real-time closed loop control. FOUNDATION Fieldbus helps achieve these demands, and in so doing, allows the user to make a salable product safely and reliably on-time and with minimal interruptions. If it wasn’t for this strong user demand, manufacturers wouldn’t have a feasible economic business model to continue delivering fieldbus products at unprecedented rates. It should be said that the Fieldbus Foundation shares its users enthusiasm in looks forward to closing out another successful year of growth and a record breaking year of device registrations. This is a great thing for the process industry.
Another stellar article by John Rezabek, Ashland Chemical, was published in Control’s magazine last month, and I’d like to highlight it. John, as many of you may know, is the End User Advisory Council Chairman for the Fieldbus Foundation, and a big reason for this is his experience, depth of knowledge, and motivation to understand and keep up with the latest trends in fieldbus.
His article covers the message of what some users have heard about “bitter” experiences with fieldbus in its original days. John goes on to explain the key game-changing factors in successful projects as well as advancements that have and will make things even easier for users. There is no reason fieldbus can’t be a highly-successful wonderful experience for users (John is one of many examples of a user reaping massive benefits from smart digital technology).
As usual, there is no reason to spoil the message and writing John has so eloquently put together so follow the link below to read his post.
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“.
I was attending one of our great seminar roadshows a couple of years ago and was asked by a user how they can know when new versions of their favorite products have been registered. The simple answer was to encourage them to talk to their supplier directly, but upon further digging, I realized this was something not being well addressed by the process community at large. How are the users supposed to know when a new device is available? If they don’t know they’re a newer versions available how can they upgrade an old device that may not have the full capabilities they require in their demanding application?
The answer is to track and update our members and newsletter subscribers about the latest registered products and to direct them to their appropriate registration page for more information.
If you’ve ever wanted to keep up with learning when new products are available after official registration, be sure to sign up for our electronic newsletter “Fieldbus Flash”. You can do so here: http://www.fieldbus.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=217&Itemid=387
For those of you who want to see the latest registered products as of our September newsletter you can view it through our Media Partners web hosted version of the table here: http://www.controlglobal.com/industrynews/2013/foundation-fieldbus-products/
|October Fieldbus Flash Newsletter Screen Capture|
Lee College offers certified training courses of varying lengths and depths of study and is the only one in the Southern united states to offer this type of vendor-neutral excellent training.
Our day-long seminar on November 6th will focus on the applications side of FOUNDATION technology and how the technology unlocks more power for your process so you can spend more time at operational efficiency and less time in unexpected shutdown. In case you have not ever attended one of our seminars, you definitely don’t want to miss it. Some of the best and brightest minds in FOUNDATION fieldbus are in attendance sharing their knowledge and experience. The best part of it too is that it’s completely FREE for all attendees. You can find out more information as well as register on our website: http://www.fieldbus.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=136&Itemid=371
|Typical seminar format|
Following the end user oriented seminar, we have a Sales Force Training seminar on November 7th that is geared towards salespeople of FOUNDATION fieldbus. The class is a half day training session on the latest news of the technology and how it can be a major part of a customers next installation. The course gives market data and figures for FF as well as some great resource material to help guide you and your customer on every aspect of FOUNDATION technology. Learn how the latest FOUNDATION for Remote Operations Management can help your customers see further into their process by reaching out to remote assets and integrating them into their control systems and how they can integrate wired HART, WirelessHART and ISA100.11a into their existing FF infrastructure! Also come hear about our latest announcement on Project Gemstone and how FOUNDATION fieldbus is the only open system out there focusing squarely on making the user experience easier and more intuitive, including device replacement.
We understand how valuable salespeople’s time is so we’ll have everyone out of the training day before noon so you can still make customer calls and site visits. Sign up today to refresh yourself on the latest FOUNDATION fieldbus has to offer!
Be sure to check out our Twitter page for announcements on the seminars @FieldbusEvents. You can also view videos from previous seminars on our YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/FieldbusFoundation.
These experts and others such as Alan Dewey, Klaus Erni, and Marcos Peluso of Emerson comprised the panel of fieldbus experts at the “New Generation of FOUNDATION Fieldbus Solutions” technology forum held on Tuesday afternoon, and again today from 1:15 to 2:45 PM.
A quick look at the conference catalog reveals all the FOUNDATION fieldbus related sessions. Stephen Mitschke’s session on enhancing fieldbus usability and the Gemstone continuous improvement project was held Tuesday:
Rong Gul of Shell and Bob Lattimer of Emerson were co presenters in this session. Our Project Gemstone is a continuous improvement project at the Fieldbus Foundation focused in improving the usability of the technology, helping the user realize the true economic potential. Gemstone is making things like device replacement easier. We have already made device replacement quick and easy for “like for like” devices in the latest revision of our Interoperability Test Kit.
|Get back to the basics with the new FOUNDATION fieldbus brochure|
Click on the link above to download the brochure and understand how this real-time digital communication network designed specifically for process control can help you gain the competitive edge through reduced hardware footprint, reduced device count, faster commissioning, tighter control, better signal quality and advanced diagnostics.
The Fieldbus Foundation also has many alternative resources available to help understand the value of FOUNDATION technology on an ongoing daily basis. Below are a few;
- YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/user/FieldbusFoundation
- LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Fieldbus-Foundation
- Twitter – https://twitter.com/FOUNDATIONField
- Slideshare – http://www.slideshare.net/Fieldbus-Foundation
- Fieldbus Forums – http://forums.fieldbus.org