Emerson Gets a Vetting on Many Topics by EU Press

Feb. 16, 2011
Emerson's approach to international standards and the lack of any real promotional references to PlantWeb and Foundation Fieldbus in these latest presentations.

Inevitably, after any major automation system supplier end of year presentation to 31 seasoned journalists, the Q+A session can highlight the topics that they had felt needed coverage or that the supplier wants to put on record. After a barrage of questions around the wireless topic, covered earlier, there were two main topics left: Emerson’s approach to international standards and the lack of any real promotional references to PlantWeb and Foundation Fieldbus in these latest presentations.

New approach to standards

Arising out of questioning in relation to WirelessHART and international standards, the Emerson response was that, "Only one internationally approved standard (by IEC) exists for wireless communications with sensors, and that is IEC62591 (WirelessHART). Emerson tries to influence efforts of new standard developments so that they become a subset of any existing international standard." Bob Sharp, president of Emerson Process Management Europe, suggested that, "The question should really be to ask the people who are developing other standards, 'Why?' i.e., Why they would wish to do so.”

The Emerson execs were also asked why they had recently decided to join the FDT Group In the absence of Martin Zielinski of Emerson, recently appointed vice president of the FDT Executive Committee, it fell to Travis Hesketh, vice president Wireless and PlantWeb for Europe, to respond in a similar vein, suggesting that while Emerson advocates EDDL, both EDDL and FDT had been around for some time, and the FDI initiative was designed to bring them together. By joining the FDT Group, Emerson hopes to encourage the FDT community to go along that route.

New topics for promotion?

Mike Babb, the soon-to-retire editor of Control Engineering Europe, commented that the impression he could be left with by the day's presentations suggested that Emerson, always seen as the Foundation Fieldbus (FF) technology leader, had now moved on to displace PlantWeb and FF promotion in favor of wireless technologies and CHARMS electronic marshalling. This was strongly denied by Hesketh (perhaps despite his new title) who claimed that 65% of new projects use FF technology, and that recent work reported by Shell and Strathclyde University have confirmed the advantages arising from the tighter control available with FF for critical plant areas.

However perhaps taking the introductory statement by Bob Sharp that "Emerson strives to enjoy a leadership position in technology and innovation," it is relevant that the presentations showed Cisco and Dust Networks technology and products to be supporting the Emerson wireless sensor innovations; that it seems that Cisco technology has brought the CHARMS interfacing capability via Ethernet onto the plant floor; and using Meridium software is enabling Emerson consultants to bring their AMS Suite data into a format suitable for presentation to operational management. Possibly maintaining Foundation Fieldbus as a direct connection into the DeltaV control system is a good idea to keep an Emerson foothold. Hopefully further Emerson DeltaV developments are planned to maintain leadership there.