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Fieldbus Foundation announces wireless and remote progress

03 May 2011

The Fieldbus Foundation has recently announced the latest progress on its Wireless and Remote I/O (WIO) technology, including a suite of solutions to assist automation suppliers in developing WIO devices.

WIO will enable the utilisation of an open, interoperable fieldbus automation infrastructure incorporating both FOUNDATION fieldbus High Speed Ethernet (HSE) and industrial wireless applications.

The WIO development is part of the Fieldbus Foundation’s initiative to design and deploy an infrastructure that will accommodate evolving wireless standards inclusive of WirelessHART and ISA100.11a. The foundation’s WIO gateway provides an interface to both technologies and uses Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) and Function Blocks to provide interoperability with the other WIO gateways. WIO continues to broaden the automation infrastructure capabilities of FOUNDATION technology by providing interoperable gateways for wired and wireless HSE devices.

According to Fieldbus Foundation global marketing manager, Larry O’Brien, “FOUNDATION technology has been built from the ground up for openness, and can support the rapidly changing world of technology in process automation. With WIO, we now have the ability to bring in the valuable diagnostic information from wireless devices, regardless of whether they are WirelessHART or ISA 100.11a, into the open and standardized infrastructure of FOUNDATION fieldbus.

“Combined with the ability to handle remote I/O, this greatly extends the range and capabilities of FOUNDATION technology to encompass many more devices throughout the entire plant or facility, regardless of their communications technology. The business value lies in taking the large amounts data from these devices through HSE and turning it into useful information in an open environment. You will be able to enjoy the benefits of wireless networking and remote I/O along with the powerful infrastructure of FOUNDATION technology.“

Within the FOUNDATION fieldbus automation architecture, H1 (31.25 kbit/s) and HSE (100 Mbit/s) provide a distributed function block capability with HSE serving as a larger pipeline with increased speed and throughput based on industry standard Ethernet technology. WIO technology expands these capabilities by establishing open, non-proprietary specifications for a wired HSE backhaul network, a wireless HSE backhaul integrating various wireless gateways, and an interface to wireless field device networks.

Tools and resources available to support the development of WIO devices currently includes:
* High Speed Ethernet Wireless and Remote I/O Specification: Defines a series of interoperable gateways to bring control I/O (both analog and discrete) back to plant automation systems over an international standard, high-speed network.

* HSE Interoperability Test Kit (HSE ITK): Tests the functionality of an HSE device and its conformance with the FOUNDATION fieldbus function block and transducer block specifications. The HSE ITK’s test cases have been updated to Device ITK Profile 6.0 and now support the VC++ 2008 (v9) standard. The test kit also employs an all-new, intuitive user interface and updated HSE test function device application.

The WIO solution encompasses the existing HSE-RIO specification, allowing industrial plants to access high data requirement devices directly in the fieldbus host system via HSE. Utilizing gateways functioning much like a smart remote terminal unit (RTU), it brings all forms of conventional I/O into the native fieldbus environment easily. This solution makes discrete-in, discrete-out, analog-in, analog-out and FOUNDATION H1 available over a common Ethernet network.

The next steps in the WIO program will include final validation of the wired HART and WirelessHART interface specifications. This development will give automation suppliers the opportunity to develop full WIO gateways initially running on a wired HSE backhaul. At the same time, the Wireless Sensor Interface Team and Fieldbus Foundation/ISA Cooperation teams will work to finalize the first draft of the wireless backhaul specifications and address key requirements such as security.


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