The Fieldbus Foundation announced significant progress in its discussions with the HART Communication Foundation (HFC) on the potential for merging the two organizations into a single industry foundation dedicated to the needs of intelligent device communications in the world of process automation.
Following the signing of a memorandum of understanding on September 25, 2013, study teams representing both organizations have been investigating the implications of a merger in terms of: the potential benefits to both end users and suppliers, the organizations themselves, and extensive and often common membership; the possible structures that a combined organization could take and how it would be integrated; and the exploratory work with regard to due diligence in the financial and legal aspects.
Preliminary evaluations support the combining of the two organizations and confirm that many synergies already exist.
The Fieldbus Foundation and HART Communication Foundation have worked extensively together in the past and have a long history of cooperation. For example, the two organizations worked together on the development of common international standards such as Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) and, most recently, the development of the Field Device Integration (FDI) specification. The merger offers significant potential to harmonize many aspects of the two protocols, making it easier for end users and suppliers to implement the technology and obtain the full benefits of each technology in plant operations and maintenance.
In particular, the harmonization of the test and registration processes and procedures and the simplified and single access to a shared IP portfolio, would streamline product development, increase efficiencies, and reduce the suppliers' cost to market.
The chairmen of the two organizations—Dr. Gunther Kegel of the Fieldbus Foundation and Mr. Mark Schumacher of the HART Communication Foundation—issued the following statement on behalf of their Boards of Directors:
"As we move forward with the evaluations, we are increasingly confident that a single organization will offer significant benefits on all levels. End users would receive the combined power of the two complementary technologies providing a full solution that addresses every conceivable aspect of field communications and intelligent device management for the process industries. For suppliers, a single organization would create efficiencies in resource utilization, consistency of processes and procedures, and would deliver significant improvements in member services and support."
Endorsed by the presidents of the two organizations, Richard J. Timoney of the Fieldbus Foundation and Ted Masters of the HART Communication Foundation, added: "As the study teams conclude their evaluations and due diligence considerations, they will present each board of directors with a report and recommendation. The boards then vote individually whether to proceed or not. Only if both boards vote to proceed will the proposal be put to the member vote in each organization."
They continued, "A final decision to merge the two organizations will be the result of a thorough and sound analysis and will represent a major step forward in the evolution of intelligent devices and the world of industrial communications. We look forward to concluding the study phase and eagerly await the outcome of the recommendations"