ISA in the factory: Wireless networks, automation interest group meets

Burlington, MA — ISA, a organization originally for standards and best practices in instrumentation and process control, is aiming to help more in factory automation with launch of an interest group for factory automation and wireless issues. Second meeting is Jan. 25; Mark O’Hearne, vice president of business development & marketing at Millennial Net, held the first teleconference meeting of ISA’s Interest Group on factory and discrete automation; 21 attended on Jan. 11.


Burlington, MA ISA , a organization originally for standards and best practices in instrumentation and process control, is aiming to help more in factory automation with launch of an interest group for factory automation and wireless issues. Second meeting of ISA’s Interest Group on factory and discrete automation is Jan. 25. On Jan. 11, Mark O’Hearne, vice president of business development & marketing at Millennial Net, called the first teleconference meeting

The purpose of the teleconference was to determine if there was enough participation to form an interest group to explore opportunities and requirements distinct in nature from what is currently considered on ISA100.11a. O’Hearne set the context with respect to the ISA process toward forming a standards working group. Dan Sexton of General Electric and others helped to clarifying the role, deliverables, and governance of this process.
The process begins with identifying a topic of interest with enough participation and proceeds through three stages:

1. Interest Group surveys the “market” to define broad scope of interest among the community, who is interested, and what other organizations are doing in the space. If it finds sufficient interest, it then recommends to ISA formation of a Study Group.

2. Study Group considers whether a standards effort led by ISA is warranted, describing use cases and investigates what other organizations are doing. If so, the group moves on to developing the scope, purpose, deliverables and schedule for a proposed working group, and recommends to ISA formation of a Working Group.

3. Working Group defines a standard for ISA approval.

The effort grew out of discussions at the last ISA100 meeting in Houston, where support formed to understand the need for standards for wireless networks in different’Hearne agreed to champion a call to form an ISA Interest Group for “Factory/Discrete Automation.” 

The new group is reaching out to all interested parties. It seeks to determine the interest level in the industry around possible development of a standard for a wireless factory/discrete automation system to serve hybrid and discrete industries (such as consumer goods, electronics, automotive, aerospace, and other industries). In contrast to environments driving the ISA100.11a (release 1) and other emerging interest groups, this group will consider assembly, batch, blending, packing, robotics, shop floor data collection and other applications. These are likely to drive different demands for mobility, scalability, point density and lower latency.

Participants Reizner, Larry Graham of General Motors, and Mike Read of Ford described end-user perspectives on how their environments are different from what is currently covered in ISA100.11a. P&G manufacturing includes many high-speed production lines, including lines producing Pampers diapers and boxes of Tide detergent. Such production lines involve many types of sensors, beyond process sensors (such as pressure, flow, and temperature) covered by ISA100.11a. At Ford there are many situations where it is inconvenient or impractical to run wires for sensor I/O. Eliminating high flexure forces associated with cables is higher priority for Ford than the environmental monitoring focus that drove SP100.11a.

David Brandt of Rockwell Automation commented that when ISA100.11a was formed the working group had a taxonomy with a process bent. Discrete and factory automation may need a new taxonomy. Participants generally agreed that their companies want to use wireless to build automated production machines, as well as for assembly lines and material conveyors.

The group’s next teleconference is planned for Jan. 25, 2008, at 11 a.m. EST.

For more information on how to participate Charley Robinson .

Search on wireless atop for a lot of related coverage.

C.G. Masi , senior editor
Control Engineering News Desk
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