In search of a wireless standard

Although the yet-to-be-completed ISA100 standard promises to establish policies and procedures, as well as best practices for using wireless systems in an industrial environment, there are three “standards” vying for prominence in the field device arena: ISA100.11a, WirelessHART and ZigBee PRO.


Although the yet-to-be-completed ISA100 standard promises to establish policies and procedures, as well as best practices for using wireless systems in an industrial environment, there are three “standards” vying for prominence in the field device arena: ISA100.11a, Wireless HART and ZigBee PRO.

Several factions within the ISA100 Standards Committee are vying for approval of their favorite version of the overall standard. Some are pushing for the adoption of the existing Wireless HART standard (part of HART 7.1), which was adopted by the HART Communication Foundation (HCF) in late 2007. This would be designated as ISA100.12. Another faction wants the Committee to adopt a version that is similar to Honeywell’s OneWireless proprietary technology. Yet another group is acting toward adopting ZigBee PRO, which could end up as ISA100.13.

The questions are, will these subparagraphs of standards be compatible or interoperable? Will they avoid coexistence issues? Aren’t these critical issues the criteria for establishing a wireless standard in the first place?

Although the ISA100 Standards Committee has not finalized its work %%MDASSML%% yet, the HCF has adopted its standard, and wireless products are already on the market and in real-world applications in real-world process plants. In the short articles that follow, the authors explain some of the technology behind Wireless HART, how the technology is being applied and the importance of choosing the right wireless infrastructure.

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