Happy 20th Birthday Fieldbus Foundation

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the merger between ISP and WorldFIP as recognized by the business filings. So many things have evolved since the merger first happened and here we are 20 years later talking about a new merger between HART and Fieldbus Foundation to create FieldComm Group. Exciting times indeed. We all look forward to what the future will hold!

User Demand Drives Pace for Record Product Registration Numbers

Driving Growth

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 Registrations

The 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.

Registered FOUNDATION Fieldbus Product Types

Registered FOUNDATION Fieldbus Product Types

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.

3 Year Comparison of FOUNDATION fieldbus Product Registrations

3 Year Comparison of FOUNDATION fieldbus Product Registrations

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.

Yearly Product Registration Comparison since 1998

Yearly Product Registration Comparison since 1998

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.

Social Interaction

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.

Fieldbus Foundation Group Growth on LinkedIn

Fieldbus Foundation Group Growth on LinkedIn

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.

Fieldbus Foundation's YouTube Channel

Fieldbus Foundation’s YouTube Channel

Conclusions

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.

The Fieldbus Foundation & HART Communication Foundation Will Merge

Austin, Texas, September 5, 2014 – The final step in constructing a single organization to lead process automation communications and integration technologies was completed when the members of both the HART® Communication Foundation and Fieldbus Foundation™ approved the merger proposed by their respective boards through a voting process that concluded on August 30. This completes a yearlong study and diligence period by a dedicated team of volunteers representing each of the foundations.

The new corporation, called FieldComm Group, will be led by a board of directors composed of representatives of the collective companies from the current boards of each foundation. Hans-Georg Kumpfmueller has been elected as the inaugural chairman of the board. Mr. Kumpfmueller will lead the direction of the FieldComm Group and oversee the addition of FDI LLC in mid-2015.

Mr. Kumpfmueller has served as a leader in setting the course of device integration in his role as chairman of the FDI LLC board and as CEO of Sensors and Communication at Siemens. He is convinced the formation of FieldComm Group is “a major step forward for the process industries by leveraging the strengths of each industry-leading protocol and adding the value of the next-generation integration strategy.”

The board has appointed Ted Masters as president and CEO of FieldComm Group. He currently serves in the same capacity with the HART Communication Foundation. Mr. Masters brings a wealth of instrumentation and controls experience to bear in addition to a deep understanding of the use of data analytics in enterprise systems.

Mr. Masters believes the creation of FieldComm Group is an unprecedented opportunity to build upon existing technologies and develop a single future vision toward harmonization of standards for the process automation industry worldwide. He said, “I am excited about the opportunity to work together with distinguished leaders and technologies around the globe to integrate valuable process intelligence from devices to improve the operations of our users.”

During the transition and integration of the two organizations, Richard J. Timoney will serve as executive vice president of FieldComm Group. Mr. Timoney currently is president and CEO of the Fieldbus Foundation. He commented, “The joining of Fieldbus Foundation and HART Communication Foundation will realize the automation industry’s goal of a single, unified body to support advanced digital technology. The efforts of countless individuals and companies have helped us reach this milestone.”

FieldComm Group will consolidate offices in Austin, Texas, and function as a single entity beginning January 1, 2015. Until that time, the HART Communication Foundation and Fieldbus Foundation will continue to operate independently.

About the Fieldbus Foundation
The Fieldbus Foundation is a global not-for-profit corporation consisting of leading process end users and automation companies. Within the Fieldbus Foundation, end users, manufacturers, universities and research organizations work together to develop an automation infrastructure that allows you to view your process in high definition; manage information effectively; and optimize people, processes and technology. For more information, visit their web site at www.fieldbus.org.

About the HART Communication Foundation
The HART Communication Foundation (www.hartcomm.org) is the technology owner and standards organization for the HART Communication Protocol. Founded in 1993, the Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit, membership organization providing support for the HART Communication technology and standards worldwide. The Foundation is supported by a global membership of 320 companies. HART Communication is the leading technology for process measurement and control with more than 40 million HART-enabled devices installed worldwide.

Open Standards Impact

I found myself reading an interesting article today from Wired.com. It was an article on the “connected home” of tomorrow. As we see more and more of our lives pushed towards automation, it just seems natural that automation would extend into a smarter home. In fact, I have a digital meter outside my home that not only provides my electricity provider the convenience of reading my meter remotely, it also allows me to view my energy consumption from a day to day basis…even down to a hour by hour basis. It’s really cool stuff. Every week I receive an email that details my electricity use each day, and even gives me the high and low temperatures in my city on those days. Even more impressive, I can compare the usage over time (last week, last month etc.). Still further, I have a Wi-Fi connected thermostat that allows me to setup, monitor and change my thermostat without ever having to get off the couch or even be at home altogether. Life is grand.

As more and more start-ups begin designing more complex advancements into our homes to automate things like our lights, TVs, dishwashers etc. the more we put ourselves at risk to cyber attacks. There is an inherent risk with opening your home to outside connections, but those risks exponentially increase with obsolete systems or buggy works done by low budget automation houses. This is where standards can help and where on line in particular from the article stuck out to me: “The best way to ward off…problems before they metastasize is to embrace openness.”

I will not argue that open standards are inherently more secure than a proprietary solution, but in general there are many reasons why it actually can be. The difference is in world-wide usage of a standard. Proprietary solutions tend to be developed and maintained by a smaller group of highly trained unique individuals. Open standards by contrast are spread widely, and are adopted and implemented by many. The benefit being that buggy back-door findings and strange anomalies get detected sooner, and can be fixed purely based on the number of individuals interacting with it. It’s the same principle that makes “group think” so powerful. 

Often, proprietary systems run by a core group of individuals lack the outside view of others. Ever heard the saying “Can’t see the forest for the trees?”. This is the same idea. The core group gets so engrained in doing what they do, that they cannot see a flaw if it exists. I’m sure the people over at Siemens would love to have prevented the Stuxnet virus that left a big black eye against their teal coloring. I think everyone can agree on that.

By adopting open standards, individuals and companies can minimize risk and ensure longevity to their investments. Open standards are owned or run by one single manufacturer so if one goes bankrupt or can’t offer the solution you need, another is there to take its place.

Long live standards-based protocols! Long live fieldbus.

P.S. For those interested in the article that started it all, check out the article posted on wired here: http://www.wired.com/2014/08/connected-home/

Fieldbus Foundation and HART Boards Support Joining to Create a New Industry Organization

Austin, Texas, July 25, 2014 – The Boards of Directors of the Fieldbus Foundation and the HART Communication Foundation are pleased to announce that they have approved unifying the two Foundations into a new industry organization dedicated to the needs of intelligent devices and their integration in the world of Process Automation.

The combined power of both organizations will serve to protect the investments that end users in Process Automation have made in HART and FOUNDATION™ fieldbus communication technologies. The mission of the combined organization will be to develop, manage, and promote global standards for integrating devices into automation-system architectures, providing functional solutions for process automation suppliers and end users. Suppliers will also profit from the increased efficiencies in resource utilization, procedure consistency, and member service and support improvements.

The Fieldbus Foundation and HART Communication Foundation have a long history of cooperation. For example, the two worked together to develop common international standards, such as Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) specifications and Field Device Integration (FDI) technology. Combining the organizations offers significant potential for harmonizing the procedures and efforts supporting the two protocols, as well as simplifying each technology’s implementation while better delivering their full benefits in plant operation and maintenance.

The Foundation Fieldbus and HART specifications will continue to exist individually, and to evolve into the future. Each protocol will retain its own brand name, trademarks, patents, and copyrights.

The new organization will continue development, support, and promotion of the two existing protocols, and will direct the development, incorporation, and implementation of new and overlapping technologies. Thus, the new organization will eventually serve as the single source for FDI, the sole integration tool for HART and FOUNDATION fieldbus technologies. The name of the proposed organization is not yet finalized.

The next step will be to complete the membership ballot by the end of summer 2014. Following a successful membership vote, legal filings for the creation of a new not-for-profit entity will take place in September 2014. As a final step, it is expected that the new organization offices will be consolidated and located near Austin, Texas, in early 2015.

About the Fieldbus Foundation

The Fieldbus Foundation is a global not-for-profit corporation consisting of leading process end users and automation companies. Within the Fieldbus Foundation, end users, manufacturers, universities and research organizations work together to develop an automation infrastructure that allows you to view your process in high definition; manage information effectively; and optimize people, processes and technology. For more information, visit their web site at www.fieldbus.org.

About the HART Communication Foundation

The HART Communication Foundation (www.hartcomm.org) is the technology owner and standards organization for the HART Communication Protocol. Founded in 1993, the Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit, membership organization providing support for the HART Communication technology and standards worldwide. The Foundation is supported by a global membership of 319 companies. HART Communication is the leading technology for process measurement and control with more than 40 million HART-enabled devices installed worldwide.

Forays into Fieldbus Technology Pay Off

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.

http://www.controlglobal.com/articles/2014/forays-into-fieldbus-technology-pay-off/

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.

Fieldbus Foundation’s Usability Initiative Explained

As the Fieldbus Foundation continues to develop and release enhancements to our Technical Specifications, it is important we clearly emphasize to our audience the impact that these latest (and future) improvements will have on the user experience. Next week, we plan to announce the latest release of our FOUNDATION Technical Specifications (2014.1) which largely deals with enhancements to address new the usability of FOUNDATION fieldbus. Importantly, it also refines a few of the specifications in order to prepare for the first official FOUNDATION for Remote Operations Management device registrations.

Guided by the End User Advisory Council for the Fieldbus Foundation, the organization started an initiative to quickly begin work on the usability of the technology. As we all know from experience, usability is a key factor in technology adoption. Things that are hard to work with and understand tend to never gain the traction they may rightly deserve. I rather find the iPhone parable a great example to illustrate the point. When the original iPhone was released to great fanfare, it really did nothing special. Blackberry had been allowing emails on their devices for years, every Tom, Dick and Jane had a phone with a camera on it…so what was so special? The answer is the usability of the device. It was the pure and simple beauty in a handheld device that was intuitive and effective.

For those of you that attended the Honeywell User Group down in San Antonio a couple of weeks ago, I hope you had a chance to listen to Darie Dreptate’s (Fieldbus Foundation) talk on the usability initiative. I understand it was very well received.

I hate to spoil the whole message on usability so I’ll direct everyone to an article I wrote for Industrial Automation Asia for full details…and believe me it’s exciting stuff you want to read about. I’ll give you a few hints though… Backwards Compatibility, DD Templates, Automated Device Replacement and PV Interchangeability.

Check out the article starting on page 18: http://flipbook.digiflip.com/IAA/May14/flipviewerxpress.html

 

Calgary Canada Shows it’s as Strong as Ever on Fieldbus

Success! The Fieldbus Foundation’s North American Marketing Committee participated in the first seminar of 2014 year in Calgary, AB Canada on June 5th and 6th.

The engineering offices of Fluor in Calgary started the successful week by hosting the Fieldbus Foundation for a lunch and learn for over 35 engineers from the Quarry Park and Sundance locations. The event was led by Talon Petty of the Fieldbus Foundation with subject experts Mike Clark – BusCorp, David Lancaster – Previously of Bechtel, and John Rezabek – Ashland Chemical. The event was very well received by the engineers who showed a strong understanding of FOUNDATION fieldbus, yet also a thirst for the latest information.

Mike Clark presented on the topic of what the Fieldbus Foundation dubs VirtualMarshalling. Mike’s presentation, titled “Why Make Marshalling Smarter, When You Can Eliminate It?” discusses the solutions available in the industry and how they each work from a schema perspective. Some folks often wonder how they can make marshalling smarter or more user friendly, but from the perspective of FOUNDATION fieldbus, electronic marshalling was eliminated the day FOUNDATION fieldbus was created. With FOUNDATION, the marshalling doesn’t require any hardware or software configuration changes, it’s simply all there. It’s done natively in FOUNDATION fieldbus. Devices simply tell the user what they have available, and the user configures the device as they see fit.

Dave Lancaster presented on the topic of Host/Device Selection. This very important step can often be under-evaluated because a few exciting device features sold a device to the user before he/she could properly understand its capabilities compared to it’s required use case in their application. Fully understanding a users application and needs, give the users the ability to make important selection choices, and when the user spends the extra time fully understanding the impact of his/her choices during the host/device selection, the project is more successful overall. Dave’s presentation offers key consideration points for users and engineers to think about during the selection phase.

A big thanks goes out to all of the engineers at Fluor that participated in the lunch and learn and the team there at Fluor that helped coordinate the activity.

The event on June 6th, hosted at Hotel Arts in downtown Calgary, was the 2nd event in as many days and was a smashing success with roughly 130 registered attendees for the day-long event. The event covers a full project lifecycle from infrastructure selection to maintenance and device replacement. You can read the full agenda here: Calgary Agenda.

Hosting some of the most knowledgeable FOUNDATION experts in North America, the seminar challenged some past notions and offered some helpful best practices based on years of experience. The 2014 seminar is all-new down to the demo system on display. In the past years, the demonstration units showed static devices on display, but in 2014 the new unit actually runs a live process during the event to fully immerse the audience and to illustrate how powerful FOUNDATION fieldbus is for process applications. One particular such instance is when we illustrate Control in the Field (CiF). After demonstrating the redundancy and robustness of the host system, a catastrophic failure is simulated via complete loss of the control system. Despite total loss of the DCS, the attendees see continued control of the process level application via CiF. To take it a step further, a dump valve is opened to show an immediate loss in level after which the valve goes full open and continues to maintain level even with this additional process disruption. It’s a powerful demonstration.

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2014 FF Seminar Demo Unit

There are 2 more seminars in North America currently scheduled for 2014. The locations are Baton Rouge, LA and Houston, TX (Sept 15-16 & Sept 17-18 respectively). If you’re in either of those areas be sure you sign up to attendee the new seminar, you won’t regret it! You can view additional information at http://fieldb.us/seminars-2014. Other global seminars can be found by going to http://www.fieldbus.org and browsing under the “Global” section of the website for specific regions.

Another big thanks goes out to all of our seminar sponsors that allow us to host these events free of charge to attendees. These guys have great FOUNDATION fieldbus solutions to showcase to attendees at each show.

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All New Seminar Series in North America

The Fieldbus Foundation, and its sponsoring companies, are running their first North American seminar for 2014 next week on June 5, 2014. The seminar to-date has nearly 110 registered attendees. It’s going to be a great event.

In 2014, the seminar series was entirely revamped from scratch. We’ve got all new presentations, a new speaker, and most importantly an all new live-process demo. A core group of volunteers helped us at the Fieldbus Foundation build a really great demo that is most certainly going to impress attendees.

Image2014 Initial Setup & Testing Phase

The seminar is a full one day event that walks attendees through a project life-cycle from inception to completion. We talk about; how to select the right technology for your application, how important having your personnel trained before a project can generate huge ROIs down the road, how making informed decisions on the front-end reduces headaches on the back-end, how simplifying segment loading eases design stages, and how good installation practices reduce intermittent issues as the plant ages. Furthermore, we discuss the advances in device configuration and commissioning as well as how to make the biggest impact with FOUNDATION Fieldbus. I’ll give you a hint, it’s in the data! Attendees will learn the importance of taking full advantage of the advanced diagnostics inherent to FOUNDATION, and how Control in the Field can be a quarterly or yearly profit-saver by reducing unplanned shutdowns.

Calgary Seminar Agenda

These seminars host some of the most knowledgeable FOUNDATION fieldbus experts in North America so be sure to not miss out if we’ll be in your area! If we’re not coming to your area, be sure to email marketing@fieldbus.org to request a visit!

The seminar also provides attendees with PDH certificates and a 10% discount for FOUNDATION Certified Training at any participating FCTP site in North America. We’ll even feed you all a nice lunch so be sure to come out and learn about the latest news and advice from the Fieldbus Foundation and its participating member companies.

A thanks goes out to all of our participation companies that help make these events possible and allow us to offer them free of charge to all of you. We’d also like to offer a special thanks to Mike Clark with BusCorp, Canada who has been instrumental in the design & setup of the new demo unit!

Be sure to REGISTER for our event in Calgary, and come see the latest technology from your suppliers (our sponsors)!

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