Wireless HART: Report from the user’s roundtable


The Wireless HART user's roundtable meeting happened in February, as scheduled. It was offered by the HART Foundation as an opportunity for concerned end users to hear about the progress of the new wireless communication standard and offer feedback as to the direction the committee is taking. Of the 25 or so people who attended the roundtable event, there were perhaps three who qualified as end users, if one uses a broad enough definition.

One was a logistics officer for the U.S. Army, along with a system integrator who is working to implement projects for him. The meeting was not very relevant for them in that their only wireless concerns relate to RFID applications. The third was a system integrator from Brazil.

The presentation was, ultimately, mostly for the benefit of companies that will be making equipment under the standard and members of the press. In that regard, much of the material was preaching to the choir. Ed Ladd, director, technology programs for the HART Foundation, did much of the presentation, after opening remarks by Harry Forbes of ARC Advisory Group. Forbes discussed ARC's projections for wireless growth in the next few years, and made the interesting comment that the value proposition to end users for using wireless instrumentation will be clearer than the early attempts to sell fieldbus technology.

As a representative of a group that is trying to promote wireless technology, Ladd was very low key. In his view, wireless should only be used for communicating diagnostic data, not critical process variables. It will certainly not replace wired instrumentation. 'I'm not sure I want to live next to a chemical plant that has critical control on wireless,' he cautioned at one point. Wireless communication is only one of several ways to retrieve and use HART data and should only be used in appropriate circumstances.

The application that he sees advancing the most quickly will be using wireless networking to transmit diagnostic data in legacy environments. Since the vast majority of HART enabled instruments have no means to communicate that information, this will provide a path to increase the usefulness of these devices at minimal cost. The end result will be better information gathering in legacy systems.

The 17 companies in the working group and others waiting for the standard to emerge will have to wait for end user feedback. Suggesting reasons for a lack of participation in this meeting would only be speculation beyond the likely conclusion that companies are simply not going to get excited until something more significant happens. In the meantime, you can offer comments to the working group via the HART Foundation.

For more information on the Wireless HART protocol, read ISA Expo 2006: New wireless capability will bring smart sensors to legacy environments


Control Engineering daily news desk
Peter Welander , process industries editor

No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
Control Engineering Leaders Under 40 identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn more about methods used to ensure that the integration between the safety system and the process control...
Adding industrial toughness and reliability to Ethernet eGuide
Technological advances like multiple-in-multiple-out (MIMO) transmitting and receiving
Virtualization advice: 4 ways splitting servers can help manufacturing; Efficient motion controls; Fill the brain drain; Learn from the HART Plant of the Year
Two sides to process safety: Combining human and technical factors in your program; Preparing HMI graphics for migrations; Mechatronics and safety; Engineers' Choice Awards
Detecting security breaches: Forensic invenstigations depend on knowing your networks inside and out; Wireless workers; Opening robotic control; Product exclusive: Robust encoders
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
News and comments from Control Engineering process industries editor, Peter Welander.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
Anthony Baker is a fictitious aggregation of experts from Callisto Integration, providing manufacturing consulting and systems integration.
Integrator Guide

Integrator Guide

Search the online Automation Integrator Guide

Create New Listing

Visit the System Integrators page to view past winners of Control Engineering's System Integrator of the Year Award and learn how to enter the competition. You will also find more information on system integrators and Control System Integrators Association.

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.