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Members to vote on merger of Fieldbus Foundation and Hart

25 July, 2014

The boards of directors of the Fieldbus Foundation and the Hart Communication Foundation have agreed, in principle, to merge their organisations to form a new industry body dedicated to the needs of intelligent devices and their integration in process automation. The announcement comes about ten months after they revealed that they were talking about possibly unifying their operations.

The next step will be to a ballot the members of the two organisations on the proposal by the end of summer 2014.

If the merger goes ahead, the Foundation fieldbus and Hart specifications will continue to exist individually, and to evolve in the future. Each protocol will retain its own brand name, trademarks, patents, and copyrights.

The new organisation – whose name has yet to be decided – will continue to develop, support, and promote the two existing protocols, and will direct the development, incorporation and implementation of new and overlapping technologies. It will eventually serve as the single source for Field Device Integration (FDI), the sole integration tool for Hart and Foundation fieldbus technologies.

The existing organisations say that their combined power will protect the investments that end-users have made in Hart and Foundation fieldbus communication technologies. The aim of the combined body will be to develop, manage, and promote global standards for integrating devices into automation-system architectures, and to provide functional solutions for process automation suppliers and end-users. They say that suppliers will also benefit from increased efficiencies in resource utilisation, procedure consistency, and member service and support improvements.

The two organisations have a long history of cooperation. For example, they worked together to develop common international standards, such as the Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) specifications and FDI. They say that combining their organisations offers significant potential for harmonising the procedures and efforts supporting the two protocols, as well as simplifying each technology's implementation, while better delivering their full benefits in plant operation and maintenance. 

If the two organisation's members approve the merger in the upcoming ballot, legal filings for the creation of a new not-for-profit entity will take place in September 2014. It is expected that the new consolidated organisation’s offices will be set up near Austin, Texas, in early 2015.

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