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Fieldbus Foundation launches a safety project

01 April, 2003

Fieldbus Foundation launches a safety project

The Fieldbus Foundation is the latest fieldbus organisation to announce plans for safety-related enhancements to its protocol. It has launched a programme to develop technical specifications and guidelines for safety systems. Similar safety-related extensions to Profibus, AS-i and DeviceNet have already been announced.

The Fieldbus Foundation Safety Instrumented Systems (FFSIS) project will bring together device suppliers and end-users. In keeping with Foundation Fieldbus` origins, the emphasis will be on applications in the process sector. The participating users include Exxon Mobil, Shell and Dupont.

Many of the participants are also supporting the work being done by the ISA SP84 working group, which is developing US industry safety guidelines based on the IEC 61511 standard, which covers the use of safety instrumented systems in the process sector, and IEC 61508, which covers electrotechnical safety-related systems, including computer-based, electronic and electromechanical systems.

The FFSIS project team will draw up a safety requirements specification and manual following the IEC 61508 guidelines, while the participating end-users will develop an end-user safety manual incorporating the requirements of IEC 61511.

David Glanzer, the Foundation`s director of technology development, says the FFSIS project will allow end-users to take advantage of open fieldbus technologies to improve the integration and interoperability of safety instrumentation, while cutting system costs.

He contends that the Foundation Fieldbus "with its industry-proven distributed function blocks and open communications protocol, is an ideal platform for advancing standards-based safety system technology".

As part of the project, the Foundation and the participating device manufacturers will develop safety concepts and products which comply with IEC 61508, and third-party certifiers will evaluate the Safety Integrated Level (SIL) capability of suppliers` products based on the standard. In addition, the end-users will evaluate the safety requirements for their shutdown systems according to IEC 615111.

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