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Gateway will link WirelessHart to Profibus and FF

05 September, 2011

Three leading control network organisations — the Hart Communication Foundation, Fieldbus Foundation (FF), and Profibus & Profinet International (PI)—have joined forces to create an architecture for a new gateway device that will allow WirelessHart wireless networks to communicate bidirectionally with host automation systems via FF’s high-speed Ethernet (HSE) protocol or Profibus.

Many industrial companies – especially those in the process sector – use WirelessHart as their wireless mesh network. But some use other host automation systems. The gateway device will allow them to use WirelessHart with host automation systems that support HSE or Profibus.

The co-operative project is intended to deliver simple, reliable integration of WirelessHart with wired FF and PI networks. When completed, the specifications will provide a standard structure for others to design and build gateway devices.

The architecture will also provide the information for creating gateway configuration software that could reside in either a host automation system or a standalone third-party product. It will make it easy to integrate WirelessHart networks and sensors into host automation systems from different manufacturers.

In WirelessHart’s mesh network, each sensor or actuator can generate or receive signals which are repeated by surrounding devices. The gateway will treat the I/O mapping of wireless sensor parameters and the use of device description files uniformly in Profibus, Profinet or HSE.

Even though the network organisations compete with each other, they say they are working together to address the concerns that competition can create (such as incompatibility issues) through this common architecture development project and through other efforts, including the Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL).

♦  According to a recent market study by the ARC Advisory Group, 46% of all field devices installed worldwide at the end of 2010 were using the Hart protocol, giving Hart a larger market than all other systems combined (including Profibus, proprietary protocols and 4-20mA signalling). The study estimates that the number of installed Hart-communicating devices will reach 35 million this year and 37.3 million by 2012.

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