HART – the next 20 years…

Control Engineering Europe talked with Ted Masters, president and CEO at HART Communication Foundation, offers views on how and why the HART protocol will stay relevant for the next 20 years.

09/04/2013


With the HART Communication Foundation celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Ted Masters, president and CEO at HART Communication Foundation, offers his views on how and why the HART protocol will stay relevant for the next 20 years. Suzanne Gill reports.

“It is an exciting time and I believe that the Foundation has already done a great job to get to this point in 20 years,” he began. The HART Communication Foundation will continue to evolve and enhance the HART technology with new capabilities to serve the needs of industry.” The HART protocol has already proven to be extremely resilient, robust and versatile as it has migrated to other physical layer media and has led the industry into a new era with wireless communication for process measurement and control. 

“I expect future HART technology enhancements will continue to be evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, adhering to the core guiding principles of backward compatibility and interoperability that have served the HART protocol, the industry and industry users so well. I also expect the HART technology will continue to fulfill key industry requirements – to keep it simple, reliable and secure as it expands and grows into new applications and domains.

“I do not believe that maintenance engineers want to make revolutionary steps in their plants. They want to make careful steps and HART has so many member products and so many capabilities that users are always able to move forward at a pace they are comfortable with..
“As the industry leading communication protocol our collective members manufacturing hosts and devices have the critical mass in the marketplace to invest in new technological enhancements. With a close focus on the needs of the end users, we are dedicated to not only staying relevant but to remain on the cutting edge of process automation technology,” he continued.

Masters went on to explain how HART technology will evolve as necessary to support the increasing intelligence and advanced capabilities of process automation devices and systems. “Broader connectivity, easier access to data and transforming data into actionable information will continue to be key focus areas. HART does this well today, but it will continue to improve and get better,” he said.

Data management

Moving on to the subject of data management, Masters said: “Many users are saturated with data and HART capabilities are expanding to ensure that the right person gets the right data at the right time with features like customisable Smart Data Publishing which is available in HART 7.

Masters has spent a great deal of time working in the area of predictive analytics – turning data into valuable information – and believes that today many plants are drowning in data. “We need to consider how best we can help users turn their data into actionable information and this is an area that will continue to evolve to help people make decisions to improve their operation.

“There is still a lot of stranded data in HART devices that isn’t being used. It is an exciting time because there are now predictive analytics applications that can sort through the data and understand how it relates and operates in the context of an asset. Over recent years with more HART-compatible hosts adding integration and visualisation, companies’ leveraging current technology are well poised to derive intelligence from their data and gain valuable insights across the enterprise.
Greater adoption has been seen over the years through hosts leveraging HART and so the HART Communication Foundation will focus future capabilities around integration and testing with the many HART compatible DCS and asset management systems now available. 

“We will also continue to grow the ways our users can ‘get connected’ with their HART devices and interface across the plant and enterprise,” continued Masters. New functionality like HART IP, Power over Ethernet connectivity and discrete applications will enable our members to build additional capability in their portfolio of products and solutions to integrate devices plant-wide and capture valuable HART data.
“With new advances in host integration such as FDI the industry now has standards that can reduce the cost to connect to information and applications that are able to process the data to turn it into intelligence and get it in the right hands to improve enterprise performance.”

Moving on to discuss the role for HART in the ‘Internet of things’ and the increasing need for integration across the enterprise, Masters said: “There is no doubt that HART will play a major role in bringing the ‘internet of things’ into the domain of process automation. With intelligent devices, machine-to-machine (M2M) communication and pervasive computing being key elements commonly associated with the ‘Internet of Things’. HART Communication is the global standard for M2M communication for process measurement and control devices. WirelessHART facilitates and supports the need for increasing intelligence and integration of data across the enterprise as it opens the door to new applications and process measurement and control in previously unreachable plant areas and to rescue stranded data that is valuable to other applications for predictive analytic and diagnostic purposes.”

Asked what users should do to get the best out of the ever increasing quantities of data available, Masters said: “Users need to make full use of the valuable intelligent data resources already available in their plant.” Most plants will have significant installations of HART-capable devices in the plant already. HART measurement and control devices should really be looked at as ‘real-time’ data servers with intelligent information about the process and diagnostics relevant to plant operation. The first requirement to take advantage of this information is to make it visible. Users need to look at the HART member manufactured products and solutions that are available to meet them where they currently are, from a technology perspective, and deliver the right solution to leverage the HART data and turn it into information that they can act on and make new decisions to improve operations.

- This article originally appeared on Control Engineering Europe's website.



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