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Process users shift from Profibus to Foundation Fieldbus

01 August, 2003

Process users shift from Profibus to Foundation Fieldbus

The process industry appears to be transferring its allegiances from Profibus to Foundation Fieldbus (FF), according to a new survey. The study, by the ARC Advisory Group, also shows that initial doubts about fieldbus systems have been overcome and that these systems are now being installed in large plants running critical applications.

The survey, of more than 60 users, systems integrators and OEMs (half of them based in North America), reveals that the process fieldbus market has narrowed down to two main choices -- Foundation Fieldbus H1/HSE and Profibus DP/PA.

FF leads the way, both in terms of networks already installed, and future plans. More than 45% of those quizzed have installed FF H1 systems, but just 4.7% have used the newer, high-speed HSE version. However, 48.8% expect to install the Ethernet-based HSE networks in the coming three years, compared to 31.4% planning to install H1 systems.

Although Profibus DP is installed in many process plants, with 41.3% of the respondents reporting that they have used the technology, just 26.1% have plans to install more DP systems in the coming three years. Some 23.1% have installed Profibus PA, and just 15.4% have plans to use this system in the next three years.

Although most process fieldbus installations so far have been in small systems and pilot plants, ARC reports that users are now installing buses in larger, more critical plants.

The survey also reveals that the most significant factors limiting further uptake of fieldbuses in the process sector include a lack of knowledge among field workers, the cost of training, and a lack of management commitment to the technology.

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