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By Ron Helson, Executive Director, HART Communication Foundation
In the recent article by John Rezabek, “Users Driving the Bus”, John’s allegiance to Foundation Fieldbus is obvious, and that may be clouding his ability to properly represent the diagnostics capability of HART devices.
I’m not sure why “HART vs. Foundation Fieldbus” made the FF EUAC “Top 10” list, but I suppose it could be because users are starting to understand that the communications protocol is less and less a factor in the diagnostics capability of intelligent devices.
The term “FF-like diagnostics” as used by John is very interesting, since many of the initial and current FF registered devices are natively HART devices with an additional communication board to translate the data from HART to FF format. Consequently, the diagnostics in these devices is virtually identical.
The statement about “watered-down, fieldbus-like diagnostics” is also very ironic and misleading. Contrary to the implication, the fact is that all HART-enabled devices—dating back to the early 90s—contain device status and diagnostic information that is easily used by today’s HART-enabled automation and I/O systems without any upgrade to the device.
Users evaluating their automation system and field communication protocol options must consider many issues including, device replacement, training, project risk, infrastructure upgrades, automation and I/O system upgrades and others. In many cases, total cost vs. benefits have shown HART to be the most cost-effective option.
Users have a responsibility to their management to evaluate all their options for upgrading automation systems on brownfield sites including using the HART-enabled field devices that are currently installed. John’s implication that HART is not the most “promising technology of the day” is, we believe, incorrect.
Here are a few facts to set the record straight:
If you want to learn more about HART technology, the HART Communication Foundation can provide you with the facts to disperse the “smokescreen.”
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