The FieldComm Group combines the resources of the Fieldbus and HART Communication Foundations, and comes just in time to focus on the new era of the Internet of Things (IoT), which has taken the digital revolution to the highest of levels. Rather than a revolution, it seems to me more of an evolution since users have been moving digital information around their plants and to various hosts for about 20 years. I recall the excitement of the first “smart transmitter” and the continual explosion of smart field devices on the market that IoT now refers to as “things.” Although the information available was impressive, the amount of data was quite overwhelming as users were typically ill-equipped to make use of it.
Over the past 20 years, technology has really flip-flopped the situation of “data overload” and created a “hunger” for Big Data to feed the brain of our analytics. Applications now can boil down these masses of data to convert it to “actionable intelligence” and truly help us make better decisions to run the enterprise.
This is exciting, and users in facilities of all types have many stories of how systems filled with data around their assets have enabled their staff to make better decisions. By improving reliability, efficiency, productivity, maintenance costs and safety, and shifting the unplanned to the planned, leveraging digital process data has saved companies millions on millions and raised plant performance to unprecedented levels. These stories show that the IoT era is truly an opportunity to cross that performance threshold that users have bumped up against for years.
It all starts with getting the data in the right places, and that means connecting to the digital data from intelligent devices and assets. We still have much to do in this regard as there are many plants still on analog or with digital data stranded in their devices they are not utilizing in real time. Converting to this digital data and bringing it into use is the first step – there is no analog in the IoT!
Here at FieldComm Group, we understand the issues and are designing specifications for our protocols with connecting to the IIoT in mind, so users purchasing “things” that meet the certification requirements can be assured of a predictable level of performance in their plants. Through working groups, we are addressing users issues such has cyber security and usability, and working on standards for connectivity and integration that will continue to be leading ways to connect and integrate data to hosts across the enterprise in the process automation industry.
It is an exciting time to be a part of this digital transformation, and we hope that this supplement will offer insights into the connectivity and integration standards we see as the future for process automation. We encourage you to discuss their potential with our broad base of more than 350 members worldwide, explore the solutions that will enable you to embrace the vision we all share, and automate to realize the benefits in your operation!