Fieldbus Mainstream

I finally had a chance to chat with PTO Executive Director Mike Bryant about his participation in the Field Communications Panel at the ARC Forum last week.  (Of course, I chatted on the phone with the perpetually-mobile Mr. B; he won’t be in the office for a while.)  The panel was moderated by ARC’s Larry O’Brien.  Larry had some good news and some bad news for those of us who promote fieldbuses.  The good news: “Fieldbus Adoption Continues to Build Momentum.”  Larry showed a case study that showed significant savings on a very large project… through installation.  But, he had some charts from a recent ARC study showing that post-installation, not everyone was seeing the economic benefits we expect.  Leading him to these conclusions:

  • Fieldbus is a mainstream technology that end users in the process industries should either be installing or evaluating.
  • Training and education are essential.  Applying fieldbus as a mere replacement for 4-20 mA guarantees project failure and zero ROI.
  • The true business value of fieldbus is in the operational and lifecycle cost benefits, but most end users must overcome the learning curve to determine how to achieve this.

The further discussion from the floor and from the panel revealed that education is the missing ingredient to overall success with fieldbuses.  Mike noted that one of PTO’s key functions is to supply that education with, for example, the one-day training events we conduct throughout North America.  (We’ve been doing these for over five years.)  Ron Helson of HART indicated they were following our example.

You’ll find a brief article about the panel on the ARC website.

I just realized I did not use the words PROFIBUS or PROFINET yet.  But that fits with my agenda:

First, I want to influence you (educate you) to choose a fieldbus over hardwiring.

And only second, to choose PROFIBUS and PROFINET as that fieldbus.

Now I’ve heard the argument that “Gee, there are too many fieldbuses.  I can’t choose.  I’ll just hardwire.”  That’s like saying “Gee, I won’t buy a new car; there are too many brands to choose from.  I’ll just keep repairing and driving my clunker.”

Fieldbus is a mainstream technology.  Choose to use it.  The benefits are there.  The savings are real.  You owe it to you and your company to educate yourself!  We can help.