HCF, ISA Make Recommendations on WirelessHART Standard Incorporation

Representatives from HART Communication Foundation and ISA100 Wireless Systems met in October.

Representatives from HART Communication Foundation and ISA100 Wireless Systems for Automation Standards committee met in October to assist in outlining an approach to accommodate and eventually integrate the new WirelessHART communication standard and the developing ISA100 standard.
The agreed upon approach will attempt to accommodate the HART 7 wireless protocol in Release 1 of the ISA100.11a standard through a dual-gateway architecture, followed by a potentially more integrated approach in Release 2 of the ISA standard.

“Standardized wireless communication with intelligent field devices is important for the process industry, and we’re pleased to be working with ISA to advance the standardization of this new capability,” says HART Communication Foundation executive director Ron Helson. “Everyone seems to agree that incorporating WirelessHART in the developing ISA100 standards is in the best interest of the industry, preserving both current and future investments.”

The ISA100-WirelessHART Analysis Team is evaluating how the protocol within HART 7 can be incorporated, and yet remain consistent with the objectives of the ISA100 family of standards, explains ISA100 co-chair Pat Schweitzer of Exxon Mobil. “The most important part of that evaluation is the obligation to continue our commitment to the end user, and we’re confident that our final decisions will accomplish that goal,” says Schweitzer.

The committee’s decision defined options for future evaluation, including dual-stack end devices for integration at the device level, tunneling (pack at the device level, unpack at a higher level), and future integration at the MAC, DLL, and NET/TRAN levels.

The HART 7 specification, which was released in September, is designed to enable new capabilities for communicating with intelligent field devices, including WirelessHART. The HCF membership approved the HART 7 specifications in June 2007, following an extensive review and approval process.

“With official release of the HART 7 Specifications, the WirelessHART standard is now publicly available and manufacturers can begin implementing this new capability into their products and process solutions,” says Helson. “I expect that products complying with this new standard will be available from multiple manufacturers in early 2008.”

WirelessHART communication builds on international standards including the HART protocol (IEC 61158), EDDL (IEC 61804-3), IEEE 802.15.4 radio and frequency hopping, spread spectrum and mesh networking technologies. The new technology addresses the issues users face in the process plant environment and integrates existing devices into HART-enabled systems. For information, go to hartcomm.org.