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WirelessHart users get a kick start

15 October 2008

Wireless technology took a massive step towards acceptance in the hazardous area industry last week as Emerson Process Management made available standard products equipped with WirelessHart. The company claims it will be the first of many suppliers to begin shipping open interoperable WirelessHart standard products. Just as its wireless technology has opened a new era for industrial process automation, standardisation will support broad adoption.

Wireless products start shipping
Wireless products start shipping

Commenting on the news, Emerson Process Management president John Berra said: “We are thrilled that our Smart Wireless products are first to ship with the WirelessHart standard built in. We’re also excited that customers will have a growing range of WirelessHart applications from the industry-wide member companies of the Hart Communication Foundation that approved the standard in September 2007.

Early applications of WirelessHart include easy and quick upgrades of existing facilities to monitor variables previously out of reach economically or physically. The wireless applications are expanding to include non-critical closed loop control or open loop control with humans in the loop. When considering the self-organising mesh technology and the major economic advantages of wireless exhibited by WirelessHart, Berra predicts that this technology will account for more than 20 percent of the signals in new plants within five years.

“Our customers face increasing challenges of complex production, tougher feedstock, and environmental and safety requirements,” continued Berra. “They are urgently seeking more information to increase plant and asset utilisation and performance. Our standard inter-operable Smart Wireless field networks can deliver the information for step-change improvements while being easy and low cost to deploy.”

Emerson has begun shipping wireless equipped products from its range of pressure, flow, level, temperature, vibration, pH, and discrete transmitters and gateways. The continuous stream of future new products from the company will also use the standard, including the soon-to-be-released valve position transmitter, and Smart Wireless Thum Adapter that will unleash stranded diagnostics in legacy devices.

In keeping with the mandates of the Hart Communication Foundation and WirelessHart, Emerson’s Smart Wireless brings broad innovation without taking away or changing existing Hart functionality. This ensures backward compatibility, preserving the investment users have in tools, training and knowledge. According to Berra, Hart 7 wired and wireless technologies will coexist in plants although wired solutions will continue to dominate safety and critical control applications.

The WirelessHart Communication Specification (Hart 7.1) was approved by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) as a Publicly Available Specification (IEC/PAS 62591Ed. 1) in September. The National Committees of 29 separate countries participated in the approval ballot. WirelessHart Communication is the first industrial wireless communication technology to achieve this level of international recognition.

Released by the HCF in September 2007, WirelessHart Communication is the first open and interoperable wireless communication standard designed to address the critical needs of the process industry for reliable, robust and secure wireless communication in real world industrial plant applications.

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