Monday, 5 September 2011

Simplified wireless communication for the process industry

The diagram shows how data from
a wireless sensor in a mesh network
are integrated into a host
automation system. The specification
covers the following three main
functions necessary for the
integration: Gateway
configuration, wireless sensor
configuration and operation
PROFIBUS & PROFINET International (PI), Fieldbus Foundation (FF) and HART Communication Foundation (HCF) are currently working intensively on the development of an architecture for a WirelessHART gateway. The background to this is that although the process industry appreciates the benefits of wireless communication it is still not making sufficient use of it.WirelessHART uses a mesh network, i.e. each device can generate or receive signals (sensors/actuators) and pass them on to surrounding devices (repeater function). According to users the greatest obstacle when implementing wireless systems is the complicated integration of WirelessHART mesh networks into the existing automation environment.

The gateway is designed to facilitate the bi-directional communication of a WirelessHART mesh network with a host via the PI protocols PROFIBUS or PROFINET or the Fieldbus Foundation’s HSE (High Speed Ethernet) protocol. The device ensures a standardized global architecture and simplifies integration between different host automation systems. The I/O mapping of the wireless-sensor-parameters (device address, device designation, process variables, process alarms etc.) and the use of the device description files are likewise standardized in the PROFIBUS, PROFINET and HSE protocols.

This architecture puts manufacturers in a position to provide marketable gateway products as well as the corresponding configuration software. As with the previously successful cooperation between the three organizations on the Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL), this agreement on a common architecture for the gateway is a further step towards open systems for end-users in process automation.

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