Okay, here we go again--FUD and non-FUD from the Wireless WAR

I haven't been posting much about the ongoing Wireless War. There are significant reasons for this, including the fact that I am a working and voting member of ISA100, and chose to do as much as I could within the committee. Recently, this incredibly disfunctional committee became even more so. The story from where we left off last year goes like this. In October at the SP100 (now (ISA100) meeting at the ISA show, the entire committee voted for convergence with WirelessHART, a standard that had just been released, in view of the fact that the ISA100 standard was at least a year away. There would be time, the majority of the committee felt, to work toward convergence. Unfortunately, using the excuse that they weren't told that they had permission to use the HART 7 standard, including WirelessHART, the team that "investigated" convergence sent the HART Foundation a curtly worded "Thanks, but no thanks!" letter that was not released to the entire committee until many months later. At this point, some major end users and almost all of the major vendors of field instruments, feeling desperate to head off a two-standard mess, decided to ballot incorporating WirelessHART NOW, and not wait until the great bye and bye. They (we, because I voted yes) saw what had happened in the back rooms of ISA100 when the majority voted for convergence-- it got shoved aside in favor of a standard which is not demonstrably better--in fact, one that doesn't even exist. Now there is a competing ballot that has been put forward to again work toward convergence-- but not now. Well, you know how that's going to work out. I'd vote for the convergence ballot, if I believed that the proponents wouldn't get torpedoed just like they (we) did in October of 2007. But once burned, twice shy, as they say. This afternoon, There were two cries from the heart from end users posted to the ISA100 listserv, and both were honest, heartfelt, and indicate what is going on. They clearly indicate that they believe this is a war between Emerson and Honeywell. And they begged for it to stop. That just is not the case. It isnt' Emerson vs. Honeywell. And here's some evidence. I received this press release from "Four HART Members" a little while ago. Yes, Emerson is a signatory, but PLEASE READ what they are saying. WirelessHART is not only for real, but it isn't going to go away, despite a lot of wishing and hoping on the ISA100 committee. I am adding my voice to the voices of the end users. MAKE IT STOP!!!  In order to be an effective standard, ISA100.11a MUST include WirelessHART. Not maybe later, NOW. Every study that has been done (my own, VDC, ARC, Forrester Research, Global Foresight Group, and others) has shown that a wireless standard war will reduce the market for wireless products.     From the release: April 28, 2008  To: Customers, Suppliers, Media and Organizations in the Automation Industry As leading suppliers of HART based process automation products, we are frequently asked about our position on the WirelessHART standard, which was released as part of the HART 7 specification. We would like to take this opportunity to share with you our enthusiastic belief that WirelessHART is the solution that will help customers enjoy the benefits of wireless today and for years to follow. Background on WirelessHART A multi-vendor, interoperable wireless standard, WirelessHART was defined specifically for the requirements of Process field device networks. The standard was initiated in early 2004 and developed by 37 HART Communications Foundation (HCF) companies. WirelessHART was approved by a vote of the 210 member general HCF membership, ratified by the HCF Board of Directors, and introduced to the market in September 2007. The companies comprising the HCF represent 90+% of the field devices and control systems sold in the industry today. HCF membership is open to any company wishing to join. The HCF technology is also available for license to non-members.   Following its completed work on the WirelessHART standard in September 2007, the HCF offered ISA an unrestricted, royalty-free copyright license, allowing the ISA100 committee access to the WirelessHART standard.   A Powerful Solution…Ready Today The HCF team which developed this interoperable, multi-vendor standard took great effort to ensure it would provide a solid platform for the future.   The standard was designed and field proven for reliability, power consumption, security, expandability, and other factors against many use cases, including wireless based control.   Backward compatibility with the HART “user layer” allows transparent adaptation of HART compatible control systems and configuration tools to integrate new wireless networks and their devices, as well as continued use of proven configuration and system-integration work practices.   On September 27, 2007, the Fieldbus Foundation, Profibus Nutzerorganisation, and HCF announced a wireless cooperation team to develop a specification for a common interface to a wireless gateway, further protecting users' investments in technology and work practices for leveraging these industry-pervasive networks.   All of these factors and more give us great confidence that the WirelessHART standard will fully meet the needs of the process industries for a wireless field device network -- now, and for many years to come. (To learn more, go to http://www.hartcomm.org/ and view the white papers and articles on WirelessHART.)   The Promise of Wireless is Fulfilled Today As automation suppliers, we have a responsibility to innovate and deliver technologies that help customers realize new levels of performance, while ensuring open, interoperable technology platforms. This requires a dedicated focus on customer needs, and a spirit of collaboration to co-develop these game-changing, yet easily accessible technologies. Our customers expect no less. WirelessHART is just such a technology.   We are all delivering WirelessHART products this year and fully expect other HART member companies to do the same. Customers are gaining benefits today, and interest from the industry is extremely high. We hope you will soon realize the benefits too!   Sincerely,     Sean Keeping ABB Mark Schumacher Emerson Frank Hils Endress+Hauser Hans-Georg Kumpfmueller Siemens                    

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