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The HART Protocol ecosystem is huge. There over 30 million installed devices and over 280 individual vendors who produce HART-enabled products. The ecosystem is now expanding to include manufacturers of WirelessHARTTM products and systems. At this writing, three vendors are producing the firmware and software for WirelessHARTTM, including Dust Networks. "We deliver a complete WirelessHARTTM solution to our OEM customers," says Steve Toteda of Dust Networks. "There may well be over 20 vendors in the WirelessHARTTM ecosystem already," he notes, "and we'll certainly do our part to make it easy to grow this ecosystem at a rapid pace."
Major vendors such as ABB, Emerson Process Management, Siemens, Pepperl+Fuchs, Endress+Hauser, and Yokogawa are producing WirelessHARTTM products to complement their wired HART product lines. Smaller companies, such as Moore Industries International, MACTek Corp. and others, are adding WirelessHARTTM to their wired HART product lines. New manufacturers such as e-Senza and others are joining the ecosystem with their WirelessHARTTM products. It is estimated that more than 50 manufacturers will be producing HART 7 and WirelessHARTTM products by the end of 2010.
Emerson's Karschnia says, "I don't think mandatory testing will help with reliability, but it will help with quality. The real goal of this," Karschnia continues, "is to ensure that a consistent interpretation of the spec is applied by all."
"If we didn't have a good boiler plate to follow," Moore Industries' Saunders says, "such as the one provided by the foundation, we would spend countless hours troubleshooting our devices in the field when they are installed and expected to communicate with other vendors' equipment. It is absolutely essential," Saunders goes on to say, "that HART and any other open communication protocol specification outline how manufacturers implement their firmware to ensure interoperability and interchangeability. While the up-front effort and costs of adhering to such standards may seem burdensome, it is a fraction of the time and dollars that would be spent should we have to troubleshoot devices that reach the field and that did not communicate correctly and efficiently."
"From a customer perspective, the newly upgraded HART test procedures ensure end users that the products they buy meet the high standards of the HART Communication Foundation," ABB's Cashwell says. "ABB supports the HART test system as a method to provide feedback and validation of the quality of our products and designs."
Moore Industries' Saunders notes, "Users want freedom of choice when choosing instruments. As such, back-end communication protocols like HART are only as good as their requirement and test specifications that are offered to manufacturers."
MACTek's Holmes says, "The registration process helps both suppliers and users by providing an independent audit trail to confirm compliance to the specifications. This lowers the risk for the user by supplying a HART registered device that will work according to their specifications."
Holmes goes on to give the other side's view. "From the supplier standpoint, the registration process helps us to deliver devices that will be truly interoperable and interchangeable."