he Fieldbus Foundation conducting its 2005 General Assembly last month in Vienna, Austria, announced that its open, non-proprietary technology, , has been adopted as the communications standard for the New Sampling Sensor Initiative (). NeSSI operates under the sponsorship and umbrella of (Center for Process Analytical Chemistry) at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Foundation fieldbus for Intrinsically Safe (IS) operation has been incorporated into the NeSSI Generation II Draft Specification.
After more than two years of investigation and experimentation, members of The Center for Process Analytical Chemistry (CPAC) and the NeSSI committee reached consensus that Foundation fieldbus is the right network communication architecture to achieve the goals of the NeSSI project, including the need for intrinsically safe operation. Widespread acceptance of Foundation fieldbus within the process industries and a broad vendor base also contributed to the choice.
The goal of the NeSSI project is to simplify and standardize sample system design.
Based on semiconductor (SEMI) standards and the ISA SP76 work, the NeSSI standard promotes the concept of field-mounted analytical systems; integration of sample systems with physical/chemical sensors (“plug and play”); development of small, smart, integrated sampling, sensor, and analyzer transmitters; and the validation of representative sample and analysis. In addition, NeSSI will lay the groundwork for new process analytical systems employing open connectivity architecture, industry-standard protocols, and web-enabled technology.
According to CPAC Director Mel Koch, the incorporation of Foundation fieldbus builds on the successful efforts in the development of fluidic components and flow substrate hardware that make up the NeSSI platform. Koch said, “This initiative will help the automation industry adapt the emerging class of “lab on a chip” sensors to a miniature/modular “smart” manifold, which could fundamentally change the way industry does process development and optimization, as well as process analysis.”
Koch also stated, “Standard sample conditioning and data logging will improve the ability to use multi-variant data analysis technology.”
The CPAC and NeSSI group, in collaboration with the Fieldbus Foundation, will work together to insure the successful application of the technology to sample system components, miniature sensors, actuators, and analytical instruments under development for the NeSSI platform.
According to Fieldbus Foundation President and CEO Richard Timoney, the inclusion of Foundation fieldbus in the NeSSI standard is an important step in the industry’s adoption of open automation system standards. “We welcome our association with CPAC, which will advance sampling sensor technology through the implementation of a fieldbus communication architecture,” said Timoney. “NeSSI is a leading-edge initiative that will make it possible for device manufacturers to modularize and miniaturize the next generation of smart process analyzer sample system components.”