Fieldbus jump predicted

When it comes to industrial communication, one mostly hears about the various fieldbus flavors produced by automation vendors. But market reality is quite different. According to Edgar Kuester, chairman of Profibus International, the majority of the installed base uses HART (highway addressable remote transmitter) or 4-20 mA signal communications.


When it comes to industrial communication, one mostly hears about the various fieldbus flavors produced by automation vendors. But market reality is quite different. According to Edgar Kuester, chairman of Profibus International, the majority of the installed base uses HART (highway addressable remote transmitter) or 4-20 mA signal communications. Kuester says 78-80% of the industrial market uses HART or 4-20 mA, while only about 5-7% use Foundation Fieldbus or Profibus.

At the Profibus Trade Organization (PTO) meeting in August, celebrating the group's 10thanniversary, much discussion centered on how Profibus is positioning itself to take a bigger slice out of the market pie chart that currently shows Profibus with only a small sliver of that pie. 'In the next four years, we will double the installed Profibus nodes to 20 million,' says Kuester. 'That means adding as many nodes in the next four years as we have in the past 12 years.' Kuester expresses confidence in growing demand to support his prediction, claiming 1.2-million Profibus nodes were sold in the half of 2004.

Installation of more Profibus is not all that's on the PTO's mind, however. With Ethernet catching on quickly at more plants, Profibus is stepping up its efforts surrounding Profinet—a new industrial communication protocol from Profibus International built on Ethernet. 'The market will accept only those Ethernet solutions that integrate with existing installations,' says Kuester. 'The open architecture of Profinet allows for it to be connected with other fieldbus systems.'

The next big news for Profinet is the debut of Ertec 400—a 4-port ASIC switch with deterministic, isochronous real-time capability for high-performance machine controllers and real-time-ready switches. Kuester says beta testing is now complete and samples will be available in October 2004. Pilot applications will be showcased at the SPS/IPC/Drives Show in Nuremberg, Germany, in November.

Stoking the fieldbus fire, ARC Advisory Group reported on the FuRIOS (Fieldbus and Remote I/O System) study at the PTO meeting. The study contrasts fieldbus and remote I/O system costs in a major pharmaceutical installation. According to the study, 'investment in I/O and related products with the fieldbus system resulted in a net savings of over 18% compared to the conventional remote I/O-based system,' by eliminating much of the I/O and related hardware. (For further details on the systems used in the study, a chart depicting detailed cost differentials, and comments by Richard J. Timoney, president of the Fieldbus Foundation, see this column online.)

With a number of Ethernet product introductions and studies coming out soon, expect to hear a lot more about your industrial communication options over the next few years.

David Greenfield, Editorial Director


FuRIOS details and commentary
According to the ARC Advisory Group report on the FuRIOS study (conducted by Infraserv Hoechst, IGR, and Aventis Pharmaceutical), control systems and instrumentation used in the study were the same for both the remote I/O reference system and the fieldbus-based system. ABB Industrial IT control systems were used along with a range of instrumentation, control valves, and software. The comparison took place in a newly constructed Aventis pharmaceutical plant. Both systems had the same plant requirements, including availability and partial redundancy. The fieldbus-based system incorporated two redundant Profibus DP lines for field devices, one Profibus DP line for drives and converters, two segment couplers, 17 Profibus PA segments and 64 fieldbus barriers. Plant construction began in 2001 and commissioning occurred in 2002. Project costs totaled€13.8 million while instrumentation and control costs were €3.5 million.
“Economic and financial benefits of fieldbus technology go well beyond savings in wire and include engineering, calibration, and start up,” says Richard J. Timoney, president of the Fieldbus Foundation , “In addition to the cost of wire there is engineering, physical termination of the wires and site supervision (overheads) associated with field wiring and start up. Additionally, for F OUNDATION fieldbus implementations in brownfield facilities, existing wiring may be utilized, thus negating any wire costs.”

The real bang for the buck, however, isn’t in the wiring, says Timoney, it is in the operational data. “When users tie their operational metrics to the financial metrics, fieldbus technology becomes much more of a necessity,” he says.

Installed cost savings of fieldbus vs.
remote I/O per FuRIOS study

Remote I/O system cost

Fieldbus system cost


Cost % difference











Project management





Field devices





I/O system



€ -76,212


DCS, incl. engineering



€ -24,795





€ -10,73

2 -1.5%




€ -5.976


Commissioning (IBS)



€ -2,400





€ -9,076


Total all process (I&C)



€ -124,702


Source: ARC Advisory Group

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