Oh, for pity's sake, stop!

This came in from the recent Profibus newsletter: THE MOST SUCCESSFUL FIELDBUS IN HISTORY: PI, the umbrella organization of PROFIBUS and PROFINET, recently announced that PROFIBUS passed an important milestone in 2006. A further 3.4 million PROFIBUS-equipped devices were sold. Not only was this the largest annual total ever but it also brought the total number of installed nodes to 18.8 million. How do we know how many? We count the chips. Almost all PROFIBUS devices use an Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) to unload communication tasks from the main device CPU. These chips are available from a number of suppliers who provide us with an accounting of their numbers. No other fieldbus comes close to our total, making PROFIBUS the most successful fieldbus in history. The story gets better too, because the rate at which PROFIBUS is gaining new users is accelerating, which means that the 2004 prediction of 20 million devices by 2008 will be reached early - possibly by the time you read this! What next? 30 million? First of all, it isn't true, unless you don't count HART as a fieldbus, which is silly. The market does. Second, this sort of "I have a bigger bus than you do" nonsense is bad for the industry, bad for end users, and really bad marketing.  First the Fieldbus Foundation, now PTO... Fact is, friends, HART isn't likely to go away anytime soon. Sure, all-digital is better. But it obviously isn't enough better to blow HART away. Let's stop slinging dubious statistics, and start tending to business with the end users. End users need information, not puffery. They need training and assistance, not bloviation. Get out there and help the poor embattled end users for a change.

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  • When I was a user of automation technology I wanted to know how the technology I chose was doing. I could be more certain of continuing support if I chose a successful technology. So this article would be important to me as a user. But there are a lot of other articles in the newsletter (http://us.profibus.com/newsletters/newsletter_14/issue14.htm). In fact the node count story is one of the smallest. The newsletter also contains information on: + free webinars + free one-day training classes throughout North America + certified training class availability + free PROFINET Developer Workshops + three white papers that can be downloaded + an application story + seven new products

    To me the newsletter seems heavy on informing and educating and light on “puffery.�

    There is nothing “dubious� about the article’s statistics. It is not difficult to count the PROFIBUS ASICs which go into devices even though the ASICs come from multiple vendors. The chip vendors report their numbers and we simply add them up.

    The “market� can call HART useful, helpful for configuration, and helpful for diagnostics… and all that would be true. But by definition it is not a bus. HART is not going away, but to be truly useful it has to be connected to a control system that can take advantage of its capabilities. The overwhelming number of HART devices are not. The fact that they can be connected to such control systems through PROFIBUS and PROFINET networks allows users to take advantage of the HART devices already installed while adding the benefits of a bus.

    Carl Henning Deputy Director, PTO

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