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The International Society of Automation (ISA) has concluded that merging the Wirelesshart specification and ISA100.11a standard is impossible, as the technical differences are too large.

The decision was reached by the ISA100.12 subcommittee, which for the past year has been developing a converged standard for the two wireless technologies.

The committee, the members of which include representatives of companies from both camps, has instead recommended a dual-boot approach, whereby devices will be equipped to operate to either standard.

Honeywell is a strong proponent of the ISA100.11a standard – a position also recently adopted by Yokogawa.

According to Jean-Marie Alliet, from Honeywell Process Solutions, the ISA subcommittee will deliver a best-practice paper for the development of field devices that can be used either as Wirelesshart or ISA100.11a equipment.

This work, he expected, would be finalised next year.

Meanwhile, the ISA100 Wireless Compliance Institute has deployed tested and approved ISA100.11a standard devices at an Arkema organic peroxides plant in Crosby, Texas.

The trial to demonstrate interoperability among multiple vendor devices using the technology was carried out soon after approval of the standard by the ISA Standards and Practices Board.

The system has been operating at Arkema since 19 September, ten days after the ISA100.11a standard was ratified.

The parallel development of stacks, transmitters and compliance tools while the ISA100.11a standard was being finalised by ISA made it possible to install a working, interoperable, multi-vendor system, achieving clear user benefits in record time.

Didier Auber, the Arkema Crosby plant manager, said: ‘It’s a great opportunity to discover this new technology and understand what it can bring to our operations.

‘With the standard ratified, multiple vendors supporting, and big industry players coming on board, the ISA100.11a standard is here to stay so we can develop and grow its use in our plant.’ Suppliers participating in the Arkema site installation include Gastronics, Honeywell, Nivis, Wilson Mohr, Wireless Access Solutions (formally Gooch Engineering) and Yokogawa.

Sensors from additional WCI supplier members will be added to the ISA100.11a network starting in October, as part of the ongoing WCI-facilitated Arkema user deployments.

Jay Werb, WCI technology director, said: ‘The transmitters installed at Arkema have been tested and approved for ISA100.11a compliance using the Wireless Compliance Institute’s Device Interoperability Test Kit (ITK).

‘The ITK is a hardware/software tool using XML scripts that emulate the operation of an ISA100.11a system manager in a transparent and vendor-independent manner.

‘The ITK is being packaged for commercial release in early 2010.’ The ISA100.11a standard found numerous applications at the site, including temperature, pressure, contact closure, valve positioning, gas detection, corrosion detection and others.

Arkema Crosby embraced the vision of a single and scalable architecture that can reliably cover all of these applications, plus many more, across the site.

The entire site is currently covered by two backbone connections and sensor meshing.

A white paper detailing the user deployment and early results is available for download from the WCI website.

Herman Storey, formerly of Shell Global Solutions, said: ‘The ISA100.11a devices do work in a multi-vendor mesh with a common host system.

‘The mesh dynamically handles re-routing in real time.

‘Provisioning and commissioning is interoperable thanks to work done by WCI to provide support services and tools.’ The ISA100 Wireless Compliance Institute is comprised of representatives from major manufacturing and automation control-system users and suppliers.

It was formed to decrease the time, costs and risks of developing and deploying standards-based industrial wireless devices and systems.

WCI has established a collaborative industry-based programme among users, suppliers and other stakeholders that: conducts independent testing and certification of wireless devices and systems; provides education, tools and technical support to users and suppliers; accelerates adoption of the ISA100 standards; and assures interoperability.

Process Engineering

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