Fieldbus--the Scottish Play

Nothing Shakespearean or tragic about this. Just a snip from Andrew Bond's latest INSIDER report on testing of Foundation fieldbus technology in Glasgow. Here's what Andrew reports:

The Glasgow, Scotland-based Applied Control Technology Consortium (ACTC) is to conduct a study into the advantages of Foundation fieldbus-based control in the field (CIF) compared with conventional fieldbus-based technology. The study is the first in a program of formal, quantitative evaluations of the performance, reliability and maintainability benefits associated with Foundation technology, which has been initiated following the decision by the Fieldbus Foundation through its EMEA Operations to join ACTC.

ACTC was established in 1990 to encourage end users to benefit from new control technologies and support industry-academia technology transfer. It is owned and managed by Industrial Systems and Control (ISC), the consultancy established in 1986 by Professor Mike Grimble to handle consultancy projects coming to the Industrial Control Centre at the University of Strathclyde
CIF is a key differentiator of Foundation fieldbus from other fieldbus technologies in that it allows control functions to be performed at a sensor or actuator without the data having to be transmitted back to a central DCS or PLC. The ACTC project will use theoretical and simulation-based analysis to assess the improvement in control performance resulting from the elimination of control-related data transmissions and the consequent reduction in time delays and improved determinism compared with conventional fieldbus systems. Other perceived benefits to be assessed include the improved reliability and availability of simpler control loops, improved network availability and reduced CAPEX and OPEX costs.

Because of its mutual value to the two organizations, the study will be handled as a collaborative project between the Fieldbus Foundation and ACTC with, on completion, large end users among the latter’s member companies being invited to support further field studies and field trials. “It is clearly understood that CIF is a key function of Foundation technology, but to have a formal, third-party evaluation of the deliverable benefits is very exciting,” explained Fieldbus Foundation EMEA Operations vice-chairman and Emerson Process Management Plant Web director for Europe Travis Hesketh “We are looking forward to an on-going working relationship with ACTC and further collaborative projects.”