Monday, April 19, 2010

Three cheers for wireless certification!

Unanimous certification a major industry milestone; wireless control benefits plant operations and lowers costs says automation leader.

Emerson Process Management applauds the International Electrotechnical Commission’s (IEC) unanimous vote to certify WirelessHART technology as "the first global standard for wireless communications for industrial process measurement and control." (see our story "First international standard for wireless in process automation," earlier this month!)

The new standard was developed by major process automation suppliers, including Emerson, working within the not-for-profit HART Communication Foundation. To be known now as IEC 62591, the standard makes it easier for refineries, chemical plants, energy producers, and other process businesses to add wireless technologies to their operations, at substantially lower cost than traditional wired technology. It also provides customers with multi-vendor interoperability and protects their technology investment. The IEC is the world's leading organisation that prepares and publishes International Standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies.

"The commission’s endorsement of this standard confirms what Emerson and many others have known: this technology is a reliable, versatile, and economical tool for improving process operations and enabling a significant return on investment," said Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management. "IEC 62591 compliant technology will have as great an impact in process plants as Wi-Fi has in offices."

Emerson was the first to offer WirelessHART products and continues to lead the industry with a broad portfolio of devices using the technology. Likewise, many other suppliers are building broad support for IEC 62591 by developing products based on the standard.

Beyond typical process measurement and control applications, customers are increasingly using wireless products where wired measurements would be too expensive or impractical – such as monitoring temperatures in moving railway tank wagons or wellhead pressures on remote offshore oil platforms – as well as applications such as corrosion and vibration detection which improve plant safety.

“The adoption rate has been incredible," according to Sonnenberg. "Emerson customers are already using our WirelessHART products in more than 1,200 installations around the world. Having an international standard should accelerate this growth by assuring them of future compatibility, allowing them to begin gaining the benefits of this exciting new technology."

IEC 62591 devices operate in state-of-the-art, self-organising wireless networks that automatically re-route communications to avoid obstacles or other interruptions. The standard is also based on the widely used HART communication protocol designed for the configuration and integration of devices into automation systems. This enables customers who wish to add WirelessHART products to existing systems, the ability to take advantage of familiar tools and training.

Specifications for HART and WirelessHART are controlled by the HART Communication Foundation, an international, not-for-profit organisation with more than 200 member companies that include major process automation manufacturers.

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