Fieldbuses Are No Good

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Fieldbuses are no good?  (I can’t believe I said that.*)  But you might think that if you’ve read some recent articles on ControlGlobal.

The two-part series titled “The Fieldbus Jungle” reminds us that fieldbuses are not all unicorns and rainbows, but the articles come across as too cautionary.   (Reference: The Fieldbus Jungle Part 1. The Fieldbus Jungle Part 2.)  To be fair, the author does conclude that fieldbuses are worth the trouble some times, but not as often as our experience would indicate.

James Powell has a detailed response focused mainly on PROFIBUS coming up in the next print issue but you can get a sneak preview in the PROFIBUS discussion group on LinkedIn (registration required).  You will find a Foundation Fieldbus user’s response in “Fieldbus Supporter Dissent.”

Fieldbuses can save time and money at installation and commissioning, but even more during production… IF you use the asset management features that they provide.

An important point: fieldbuses are not point-to-point wiring.  They’re different.  Don’t treat them the same.  If you are not familiar with fieldbuses, educate yourself.  I outlined my suggested path through the available resources here.  Many of these resources are free.  Like our free one-day training classes on PROFIBUS and PROFINET.  Maybe I’ll see you at one this year.

–Carl Henning


*Although I said something similar back in a 2007 blog post: Never, Ever Use a Fieldbus

One Response to “Fieldbuses Are No Good”

  1. James Ingraham

    What a bizarre article. (Not yours, Carl, the one you linked to.) First of all, on what planet Profibus-PA, Foundation Fieldbus, AS-i, and DeviceNet comparable networks? PA & FF sure. Putting them in the same boat as AS-i and DeviceNet? You’ve gotta be kidding me.

    There are some fair points. “It is important that the automation professional considers all of the relevant factors before choosing a technology.” Absolutely. Heck, anybody should consider all relevant factors before making ANY decision. It’s practically a tautological statement.

    “Be wary of savings calculators provided by automation vendors.” Yes, this is true. Again, though, it’s true of every savings calculator from any ever, including “saving 15% or more on your car insurance.” All marketing is to be taken with a grain of salt.

    Everything else seems to be “glass half empty” thinking. Or maybe even “In my day, we walked 2 miles to school in the snow, up hill both ways, and we liked it!”

    I could talk about this for hours. Heck, I *have* talked about this stuff for hours.

    -James Ingraham
    Sage Automation, Inc.

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