The Fieldbus War Is Over

The Fieldbus War Is Over” – now there’s a magazine article title I like (by Bill George in the Industrial Ethernet Book, September issue).  Yes, there’s still some competition, but I continue to believe that competition is a good thing.  I do have to take exception to one of the paragraphs, though:

It should of course be said that the ODVA, which backs the predominantly North American interest in EtherNet/IP, has a proxy bridge to its own crop of process industry fieldbus protocols and MES layers, and it certainly won’t take the Siemens/Emerson collaboration lying down.

ODVA does not have a process industry fieldbus, certainly not in the sense of connecting process instruments in an intrinsically safe area, although DeviceNet is used to connect discrete devices in process plants.  [The contrast here is with PROFIBUS where the discrete and process protocols are the same even though the physical layers are different.]  I’ve been jabbering about no other Industrial Ethernet connecting to MES, so the comment here about MES and Ethernet/IP sent me scrambling.  I scrambled over to the ODVA website and found absolutely nothing about standards for connecting to MES.  Maybe Bill George knows something I don’t?

The article also makes the observation that “barely 20% of some markets have moved over to fieldbus.”  Now 20% seems to be the generally accepted market penetration for fieldbuses, but the ARC PAM webcast this week had an interesting slide.  (More on the webcast here.)  They had a slide that showed 40,000,000 process devices installed.  Now process devices can be utilized with either 4-20mA (with or without HART) OR a fieldbus (PROFIBUS PA or Foundation Fieldbus).  Since their respective fieldbus organizations have announced their individual installed nodes (about 600,000 each), the math shows a penetration of only 3%.  Yikes!

Don’t let my nitpicking keep you from reading the article; it’s really quite good overall.  So is the magazine for that matter… and the website: