Reader feedback: March 2018

Readers respond to January's On The Bus column

Every month I receive Control magazine and one of the first articles I read is John Rezabek’s “On the bus” to see what aspect of Foundation fieldbus (FF) he has chosen to unabashedly champion this month. (Repeat this mantra, “FF good, all others bad….”) Normally, I find this fairly amusing but his latest article, “Is fieldbus dead?” was neither amusing nor informational, it was simply low-rent and rather pathetic. I was appalled that he actually concluded that anyone who failed to choose his “superior solution” (FF) was either “simple minded,” “poorly led,” or “lacks…energy, desire, or acumen” (lazy). Seriously? And “flaccid marketing?” Wow.

John railed against an article written by Mr. Perry for having the audacity to suggest wired HART and WirelessHART were better choices than FF. I read that article and found it generally well presented, but agree it was somewhat slanted toward wireless. (Not exactly a surprise given Mr. Perry is “wireless service and training manager at Emerson.”) I would expect him to champion wireless as I would expect Mr. Rezabek to champion FF. However, to start publicly insulting someone just because they happen to have a different opinion is beneath our profession. Get some class, Mr. Rezabek.

P. Hunter Vegas P.E.

"Settling for less is fine for the simple minded and poorly led." – John Rezabek. John, I have to disagree with your premise. In the real world, you quickly find that Foundation fieldbus requires a level of technical acumen that is far above that needed to maintain a 4-20 mA loop. We have a hard enough time staffing vacancies as it is. Introducing Foundation fieldbus into the mix simply compounds the problem by expanding the minimum skill sets required to do the job. By necessity, we design for the lowest common denominator, but those designs are bulletproof, low-tech and robust. I once heard an integrator state that, "Fieldbus was a solution in search of a problem." I wouldn't go that far, but I fully understand his sentiment. I have yet to encounter a control problem of any kind where I ended up saying "If only we had Fieldbus." Rant all you like, but the overwhelming vote of the end users regarding Fieldbus seems to be, "Thank you, but no."

Martin R. Davis
E&I Manager, US Magnesium, LLC

Thanks for the feedback. I agree the tagline is harsh and the "voters" in North America have expressed a desire to stick with 4-20 mA. That was sort of the point. I am a long-time end user of Foundation fieldbus serving a well managed process plant—I'm not in a lab or a school—and I would not do a project that didn't fully utilize it. I know numerous end users working for major oil companies and their ilk who feel the same. The refinery up the interstate from me completed a $1 billion-plus heavy oil/coker upgrade a few years ago—primarily FF—and they draw from the same labor pool as the rest of us in the Midwest. So it isn't a "solution in search of a problem."

Should we be happy or satisfied that we default to technology of the phone modem because we don't develop or train people capable of better? I would encourage anyone inspired to utilize an equally robust and vastly more capable solution to do so. Don't tie the next generation to the solutions of yesteryear.

John Rezabek

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