Much of ISA Expo focused on wireless technology. A significant number of exhibitors displayed various forms of wireless including the so-called point-to-point (which is more accurately described by calling it single path or single receiver), mesh sensor network and even one company that meshes the routers instead of the sensors, which detect open fuses and circuit breakers in this case.
The ISA100 Standards committee held two press conferences to reiterate the features of ISA100.11a, and to reassure the industry that it is actually cooperating with the folks at HART in an effort to incorporate the recently adopted WirelessHart profile into the broader ISA100 Standard. However, the technical details and time frame for its inclusion are yet to be determined.
Paul Sereiko, president and CEO of AirSprite Technologies Inc. and co-chair of ISA100 Marketing Work Group said the messages the committee wants to articulate as important parts of the yet-to-be-adopted ISA100 Standard involve ensured coexistence, family of standards, universality and ISA’s commitment.
Coexistence issues involve the ability of wireless devices to be able to communicate within a crowded RF spectrum without contributing to further spectrum degradation. “Apprion has a demonstration that shows you ‘mountains’ of RF noise, and incredible amount of RF signaling that’s going on in the show floor,” Sereiko said. “One of the things we are trying to focus on in the standard is to develop features that vendors can use that will ensure coexistence within the ISA100 network, and within other networks that are operating within the same radio space. We’re taking a lot of unique approaches to doing that: everything from channel-hopping to channel black-listing.”
ISA100 is designed to be a family of standards. “The first standard we are working on is called the .11a standard, which is directed more toward the process industries,” said Sereiko. “The applications include ‘slow control’ such as monitoring and alerting. As time goes on, we will be extending the family of standards. We are starting to look at longer range applications that you might see in SCADA systems, we’re starting to look at factory automation. Over time, the expectation is that as the .11a Working Group wraps up its efforts with Release 1.0, some people will start working on some areas that are of more interest to them, such as factory automation, process automation or facilities automation.”
Sereiko said universality is the notion that within ISA100.11a, “end users should be able to connect vendor’s devices that support different protocols through a single wireless infrastructure, and move that information from point A to point B through a gateway, through an enterprise application on the shop floor. We’re not focusing on a ‘single’ protocol, ISA100.11a will have its own native protocol, but it should also support common industry at some level or another. The whole point is that we want to be able to tie a single wireless infrastructure into the plant to make all of these different protocols work %%MDASSML%% so we don’t have a repetition of the ‘wired fieldbus wars.’”