22 Jul 2024


The Fieldbus and Hart foundations get the urge to merge

The Fieldbus Foundation and the Hart Communication Foundation are discussing a possible merger to form a single body dedicated to intelligent device communications in process automation.

In a joint statement, the chairmen of the two organisations – Dr Gunther Kegel of the Fieldbus Foundation and Mark Schumacher of the Hart Communication Foundation – say that a merger would provide “significant benefits” to both end-users and suppliers.

For end-users, they suggest, a single combined organisation would provide “a full solution that addresses every conceivable aspect of field communications and intelligent device management”. For suppliers, it “would create efficiencies in resource utilisation, consistency of processes and procedures, and would deliver significant improvements in member services and support.” 

The two organisations have a long history of cooperation. For example, they worked together to develop international standards such as Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) and, more recently, the Field Device Integration (FDI) specification. The merger could harmonise many aspects of the two protocols, making them easier to implement and to obtain their benefits in plant operations and maintenance.

The presidents of the two organisations – Richard Timoney of the Fieldbus Foundation and Ted Masters of the Hart Communication Foundation – say that the decision to investigate the merger of the organisations “provides momentum for a major step forward in the evolution of intelligent devices and the world of industrial communications.”

But the two bodies emphasise that a merger is not inevitable and that study teams from each organisation will first review the proposal and members of both will have to approve the merger in a vote. They envisage a “true merger of equals”, not an acquisition of one organisation by the other.

If the merger goes ahead, the Foundation fieldbus and Hart specifications would continue to exist and to evolve separately. Each protocol would keep and maintain its brand name, trademarks and patents. The combined organisation would support the wireless strategies that exist today and would continue to seek areas for harmonisation.

If the two foundations do agree to merge, they aim to complete the process by mid-2014.