Siemens introduces WirelessHART products--Shipping in May

Here's a capsule update on the wireless standards war.

Siemens has become the latest major field device vendor to release products certified to be WirelessHART (see the press release below). Most of the major field device vendors have now got products that are either in the certification process or in the final release to shipping.WirelessHART from Siemens

ISA100.11a, although approved by ISA last October, has not been approved by ANSI as an American National Standard due to some procedural irregularities.

Shell did a test of a use case which was presented at the ISA100.11a meeting in February, which indicated that some of the technical comments that were ignored by the editorial team might have been more accurate than was thought. The use case basically did not work. Other use cases might, but this one, two temperature transmitters and a gateway, did not.

Faced with this information, and rather than continue the argument with ANSI, the ISA100 committee is balloting on a "maintenance activity" to clean up the technical issues and handle the procedural violations that have kept the standard from being approved by anybody but ISA. Assuming that the ballot passes, which it certainly will, the plan is to have a revised and more robust field device standard available for approval in October.

Other ISA100 activities are far less problematic. The ISA100.15 Backhaul committee has done truly yeomanlike work so far, as have several others.

The problem, of course, is that the end user community has gotten so fed up with the wireless standard war that they spoke out vigorously at the ARC Forum/ISA100 meeting in February on behalf of a single wireless standard.

Everybody once believed that ISA100 would be that standard. Now however, with all but one of the major automation companies, including EVERY major field device vendor, on the WirelessHART bandwagon, it is becoming difficult to see where a revised ISA100.11 standard fits.

If vendor politics would permit, the sensible thing is to declare WirelessHART the field device standard, and continue with the less tendentious Backhaul, Power Harvesting, Discrete Manufacturing and other committees.

One field device standard is clearly what the end users want...even the end users that would prefer something like ISA100.11a. Maybe we should do something for the industry, and the end user community.

My belief is that wireless sensor network success depends a great deal on how easy it is to select and install them. Multiple sensor network standards clearly disrupt  and damage the market.

Understand me clearly. There are things I wish WirelessHART would do that ISA100 was supposed to do, and probably will, when the "maintenance activity" and the activity of the private Wireless Compliance Institute are completed. But that is going to take another 6 months to a year before working products are released.

Let's think about the possibility of doing something for the end users, shall we?

Here's the press release from Siemens:

ATLANTA, March 25, 2010 -- Siemens Industry, Inc. today announced the U.S. introduction of a new family of WirelessHart products for wireless communication, including two new transmitters, the Sitrans P280 and the Sitrans TF280. This product family is a new line of WirelessHart products to be introduced to wireless communication within the process industry.

The Sitrans P280 transmitter for pressure measurement and the Sitrans TF280 transmitter for temperature have a WirelessHart interface as well as a graphical display with backlight functions and are easy to operate via push buttons. An integrated battery supplies the transmitters with power for up to five years, with a display that shows the exact number of remaining days.

Additionally, all other Siemens process instruments without WirelessHart interfaces can be integrated into WirelessHart communication with the new Sitrans AW200 adapter. The Sitrans AW200 adapter has an integrated battery, which can also power a connected process instrument. If an external power supply is used, up to four conventional process instruments can be connected to the WirelessHart adapter simultaneously.

The new IE/WSN-PA LINK gateway manages the WirelessHart network with all its nodes, and it establishes the connection to the Simatic-based automation and control systems via Industrial Ethernet. The gateway is easy to configure via the integrated Web interface.

The new transmitters and the adapter are commissioned and serviced using Simatic PDM (Process Device Manager), which provides a simple, graphical and interactive setup. Additionally, with Sitrans MDS (Maintenance Diagnostic Station) software, diagnostics data can be displayed transparently in a maintenance station.

The new WirelessHart product family was developed through collaboration by Siemens with the HART Communication Foundation (HCF).

The new WirelessHart components are an integral element of the entire Industrial Wireless Communication portfolio from Siemens, available for a wide variety of sectors and covering a diverse range of industrial requirements regarding bandwidths, power consumption, safety and security, availability, distances to be covered and speed.

For more information on the new WirelessHart products, please visit: