Is HART the future for industrial instrumentation?

The short answer is yes. Almost 4 out of 10 site operators (39%) say that they’ll be opting for HART-based instrumentation in the future.* That compares with fewer than 10% who think Foundation Fieldbus or Ethernet IP are the way forward. Both Profibus and wireless technologies are more popular contenders, commanding 23% each.
So what is it that makes HART such a hit? Its immense flexibility probably has an awful lot to do with it.

HART devices are real-time data servers with two simultaneous communication channels on the same wire – 4-20mA analog for robust, reliable and fast transfer of the primary variable (temperature, pressure or whatever) and HART digital for real-time device status, diagnostics and multivariable process information. Getting connected means that systems continuously communicate with both the 4-20mA analog current loop and the HART digital channels.

What’s more, HART recently got even more flexible, thanks to the introduction of WirelessHART (IEC 62591, EN 62591), which gives users even more ways to get connected.

WirelessHART, the first interoperable wireless communication standard for process industries, builds on the existing foundation of HART, enabling users to tap into the benefits of wireless automation while ensuring that new systems are with their existing devices, tools and systems. This will enable major cost savings, since it eliminates the time and effort associated with installing the cabling for conventional wired solutions. The main drawback with wireless solutions is that they are relatively slow, so they can’t replace wired alternatives in every application.

There are lot of companies out there which are yet to reap the benefits of intelligent measurement and control in any form. More than half of plant operators report that less than 20% of their control instrumentation is currently equipped with intelligence. Worse still, even where there is
potential for intelligent control, almost half (43%) of users report that they don’t use it.

But the good news in these tough economic times is that this leaves plenty of scope for improvement. And with over half of site operators reporting that their control systems are more than 10 years old, replacement and upgrade programmes will gradually populate the process industry with smarter field instruments. Health and safety, process efficiency, energy efficiency and environmental monitoring can all look forward to a big boost as intelligent instrumentation grows in popularity.

If you want to check how your site stacks up against other process facilities, check out our online tool at www.howdoyoumeasureupabb.com.

* Source: the How do you measure up? Benchmarking survey from ABB.

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