Truthiness is next to Godliness-- ISA announces IEC approval of ISA100 #pauto #wireless #isa #ansi

As an editor, I receive press releases all the time. Sometimes they go a little over the top on what they say or how they say it.

Here's an example that doesn't quite make the PR Wall of Shame. My comments are interspersed.

ISA100 Wireless Standard Receives IEC Approval
First industrial wireless standard developed with direct end-user participation and support

Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA (16 September 2011) – ISA-100.11a-2011, “Wireless Systems for Industrial Automation: Process Control and Related Applications,” has been approved by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) as a publicly available specification, or PAS. This follows its approval earlier this year as an ISA standard, developed per ISA’s open consensus process as accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Actually, it has been listed by the IEC as a publicly available specification. It has not been approved as an IEC standard, which the release implies.

Further, it has not been submitted to ANSI, and there have been significant questions raised repeatedly about how well ISA follows the "open consensus process as accredited" by ANSI.

“There has been a great deal of interest to move ISA-100.11a into the IEC process, and I am very pleased this has been accomplished with its unanimous approval as an IEC PAS," stated Tony Capel of Comgate Engineering, who is the chair of IEC SC65C, the committee that will oversee the standard. “An IEC PAS allows the early publication of a standard that has obtained consensus in a professional society such as ISA, and will further promote the use of this standard throughout the world,” added Capel, who serves on the Canadian National Committee to the IEC.

Interestingly, ISA, apparently believing that the submission of ISA100 to ANSI would be appealed, submitted to IEC via Tony Capel's CANADIAN national committee. ANSI has not commented on the propriety of ISA doing this, and some have questioned the reasoning behind this apparent "end-around" of ANSI, especially since ISA has in this release repeatedly implied ANSI approval.

Unlike nonaccredited processes typically used by vendors’ consortia to develop specifications, ISA’s ANSI-accredited procedures call for direct participation and voting by experts from end-user companies, ensuring that their views and needs are heard and reflected in the resulting standard. ISA-100.11a-2011 received overwhelming approval from voting members on ISA100 who represent end-user companies where wireless systems will be deployed in real-world industrial applications.

This is the traditional ISA slap against the Hart Communication Foundation, the Fieldbus Foundation, the Profibus User Group and any other open not for profit standards organization made up of vendor companies. IEC has actually APPROVED WirelessHART, for example, as a real IEC standard, IEC62591, not just a PAS. I truly wish ISA would quit flogging this really dead horse. The development of these other standards has been just as open as ISA's process and in fact, ISA operates a vendor consortium called the Wireless Compliance Institute that has done the final protocol design for ISA100-- and it is a closed shop. You can't get a copy of the test protocols unless you join. You CAN however get test protocols from HART, or BACNet or many other standards bodies-- simply by purchasing them-- just not ISA100.

"From my perspective of 42 years as an end user in the refining and petrochemical industry, I am especially proud that ISA-100.11a is the first industrial wireless standard developed in an open, accredited standards process with direct input and participation of experts from end-user companies," stated ISA100 Co-chair Herman Storey of Herman Storey Consulting. "The fact that 92% of ISA100 voting members from end-user companies cast ballots to approve the standard sends a very strong message to industry, in my view."

Many of the same team that developed ISA100 developed WirelessHART, so it is really not as wonderful as the words ISA's PR machine has put in Herman Storey's mouth. There was so much pressure from vendor companies on the voting members that it really indicates that this process wasn't so open after all. There were continuous appeals as to procedure during the entire voting process, and although they were dismissed by ISA, the points they raised WERE valid.  

ISA-100.11a-2011 was developed to provide reliable and secure wireless operation for noncritical monitoring, alerting, supervisory control, open loop control and closed loop control applications. The standard defines the protocol suite, system management, gateway and security specifications for low-data-rate wireless connectivity with fixed, portable and moving devices supporting very limited power consumption requirements. The application focus is to address the performance needs of applications, such as monitoring and process control, where latencies on the order of 100 ms can be tolerated, with optional behavior for shorter latency.

With over 600 members from across the globe, ISA100 brings together wireless experts representing diverse industrial and technical interests in an open forum. For more information on ISA100, contact Linda Wolffe, or visit