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HART is put to the test

14 September 2010

NAMUR and the HART Communication Foundation have joined forces to conduct a field test at the BASF plant in Ludwigshafen, Germany. The test, supported by Pepperl+Fuchs, was said to have yielded positive results albeit with certain areas for improvement.

The NAMUR recommendation NE124 defines the requirement for wireless communication in process automation. One of the stipulations is an open and interoperable standard that is supported by many vendors. Today, products based on only one standard – WirelessHART – are available. In order to seamlessly operate the network, all WirelessHART devices must be compatible and interoperable with each other. To ensure this, the HART Communication Foundation (HCF), NAMUR, and BASF teamed up with manufacturers of WirelessHART products, including Pepperl+Fuchs, for a field test. With the help of BASF, NAMUR examined WirelessHART in terms of NE124. Pepperl+Fuchs took part in the field test with the WirelessHART Gateway and the WirelessHART Temperature Converter. The co-operation partner, Endress+Hauser, provided the WirelessHART Adapter, which will also be offered by Pepperl+Fuchs.

The results of the field test were positive, but also revealed areas for improvement. The wireless communication and the security mechanisms proved to be extremely robust. However, there was some negative feedback regarding complete field device integration and plurality of battery solutions. As an improvement, BASF and NAMUR proposed a reduction in the amount of key performance indicators to enable easy network diagnostics instead of relying on vast amounts of statistics. Furthermore, the progress to eliminate all negative aspects is moving ahead at full speed.

Pepperl+Fuchs says the result is positive. The core technology is established, and the wireless communication between devices of different vendors works well. Therefore, there is no fundamental obstacle that would hinder the use of WirelessHART. HOST integration has to be improved, but can be realised today as Pepperl+Fuchs offers all necessary DTM and DD versions.

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