Do fieldbuses have burning pants?

This press release from Profibus' organization (PTO-- whatever that means now that they've decided to abandon the German) executive director Mike Bryant continues the obfuscatory trend begun by the Foundation Fieldbus at their user group last month. Look, folks, "there can be only one." (If you don't get the reference, google "Highlander.") Any marginally competent definition of fieldbus must include CANbus, Modbus, AS-i, BACnet, and a bunch of others...and the only one that nobody wants to include: HART. Why don't you all want to include HART in the numbers game? It is simple...there are roughly 22 million installed HART devices in process automation. This is a number that absolutely dwarfs Profibus-PA and Foundation Fieldbus, both of whom have roughly a half million by third party count, and close to 650K each by their own counts, which may be, well, optimistic. Now I don't want to get into the argument that HART doesn't do as much as the other buses. It does not matter. HART and HART Wireless are going to continue to be a fieldbus for at least another generation. Regardless of how many of us wish that we could go to pure digital buses in process automation, we aren't going to be able to do that any time soon. PROFIBUS Nodes Exceed 18 Million; On Track To Exceed 20 Million By 2008 Scottsdale, AZ"”March 30, 2007"”Annual sales of PROFIBUS nodes reached a new high of 3.4 million in 2006 according to figures just released by PI (PROFIBUS and PROFINET International), the umbrella organization representing 25 regional PROFIBUS offices around the world and over 1400 member companies. This brings the total number of PROFIBUS nodes installed worldwide to 18.8 million. PROFIBUS remains on track to easily surpass the milestone of 20 million nodes by 2008 forecasted at the start of 2004. According to Mike Bryant, Executive Director of the PTO (PROFIBUS and PROFINET North America): "Doubling from 10 million to 20 million within four years has been easier than expected as the market realized the power of PROFIBUS. We actually sold more nodes last year than any other fieldbus organization, and it isn't slowing down. The pattern set in discrete automation was repeated in process automation and PROFIBUS remains by far the strongest candidate for fieldbus applications in both market sectors." The total number of installed PROFIBUS PA devices reached 630,000 by the end of 2006. Therefore, today there are approximately 3.3 million PROFIBUS devices (DP and PA) in this market, roughly 5 times more than any other fieldbus. PROFIBUS suits the majority of process applications because they often require process instruments and discrete functionality to run side by side. This so-called "˜hybrid' requirement dominates the process industry and PROFIBUS is the number one choice ­ not only in technology, but also in terms of life cycle cost. PROFIsafe, the functional safety profile for PROFIBUS networks also saw impressive growth in 2006. The number of installed PROFIsafe systems rose to 26,000 and the number of PROFIsafe products in use topped 230,000. PROFIsafe boasts particular benefits for customers when used in conjunction with PROFIBUS, or PROFINET, PROFIBUS's sister Industrial Ethernet solution, thanks to their shared functionality and common look and feel. PROFIBUS continued to build on its position as a market leader in all regions worldwide. Developments on the Asian markets, spearheaded by China, have been particularly rapid and above-average growth is expected there in coming years. A PROFIBUS organization was founded for the Middle East in Dubai, another important step for PROFIBUS growth in the future. The PTO (PROFIBUS and PROFINET North America) is the non-profit, member-supported automation organization for communication solutions. It is dedicated to supporting the discrete and process industries in achieving beneficial results using fieldbuses, specifically PROFIBUS and PROFINET. The PTO also assists device manufacturers in the development and marketing of PROFIBUS and PROFINET products. Covering North America, PTO is one of 25 regional associations that make up PI (PROFIBUS and PROFINET International). Established in 1989, PI has over 1400 members, who have developed and now supply more than 2500 types of devices. To date, more than 18,000,000 devices have been installed. For additional information contact the PTO at 16101 N. 82nd Street, Suite 3B, Scottsdale, AZ 85260. Phone: 480-483-2456; Fax: 480-483-7202. Internet:
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  • <p>Walt, I am still looking for <b><i>someone</i></b> who uses HART on a network or "bus". It is widely believed that it is too slow and unreliable. My experience is, even digitally integrated HART data is slow and unreliable (compared with "real" fieldbus and 4-20 mA).</p> <p>As Mr. Henning says, HART, as applied 99.9(9999?)% of the time is no more a bus than, for example, 3-15 psi. There are a huge number of 3-15 psi nodes around, why not count them? Just because the IEC adopted their ridiculous equal-opportunity "standard" (thank you, Deutschland) that curiously includes HART, does not mean HART as used in industry is a "fieldbus". I think we should submit 3-15, 6-30, and heck even 3-27 psi to the IEC and see if they get included too. Their numbers would be enormous! Would it mean users are "voting with their feet" for wind instruments?</p> <p>I would sooner call a DCS system "SCADA" than call HART a fieldbus. It isn't, and is virtually <b>never</b> applied as such.</p>


  • <p>Just because I use my screwdriver as a can opener doesn't make it any less of a screwdriver. There are lots of reasons why people haven't used what they have. I have been using the network features of HART to good use. I have stripped HART from the incoming safety system valve positioners and added it to AMS. I now get actual valve position information every time one of my safety valves go closed to document the stroke. HART has multidrop capability even if you don't use it and there are lots of good reasons not far. Granted it's mostly unrealized potential...but its 'virtually' there.</p> <p>Now, if I can just find my Crescent-hammer...hmmm.</p>


  • <p>I don't think anyone is saying HART is bad or useless. But I think your analogy is a bit off. I would say, using HART as a bus <i>IS</i> like using your crescent wrench as a hammer . . . except the crescent wrench gets used as a hammer more often.</p> <p>Maybe a better analogy would be "using HART as a fieldbus is like using your leatherman <a href=""></a> to shave". Sure, it has a blade, but <b>no one</b> uses it. If leathermans outsold Norelco, I don't think anyone would consider it obfuscation if it wasn't counted as the leading razor.</p> <p>HART is <b>bad</b> at being a fieldbus. When you really need a fieldbus tool, you use a "real" fieldbus like FF or Profibus. I would argue continuing to lump HART in with real fieldbuses is obfuscation. No one chooses a HART device because they are trying to implement fieldbus. Typically, they are choosing HART because they have little choice.</p>


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