With respect to “failed trials”…
Emerson has been actively evaluating in-plant wireless technology for Process Industries for approximately 3 years. We have tried many technologies which turned out not to be viable for Process Plants, given they are “canyons of metal.” We don’t view those early days as failures: they were critical steps in building the pathway to success. We test all Emerson technologies in real-world settings with willing customers, not just in the lab. That’s the very point of R&D and field trials: find out in the real world what does NOT work, so you can rapidly determine what DOES work. We’re grateful to our customers who worked side by side with us to gain that insight.
In the past 18 months, armed with the knowledge gained from early trials, Emerson has been developing wireless technologies based on a completely different platform…one that meets the reliability, security, robustness and ease-of-use Emerson and our customers originally sought. Through collaboration with companies like Dust Networks, we have been actively field testing these technologies with several customers for well over a year. In this last year, our customers have enjoyed data reliability rates exceeding 99%. We have experienced no trial failures with this technology approach, and are not aware of any issues or problems that would lead anyone close to these trials to say there were failures. To quote one of our trial customers: “it just works”.
On the subject of Emerson’s participation in standards bodies…
The notion that Emerson is moving in a clandestine or self-serving way is ridiculous. Like several of our peers in the HART Working Group, we enthusiastically pursue the development of a standard. We openly share learnings gained from our trials with the Working Group. In fact, nearly 5 months ago (December, 2005), Emerson posted an open letter to the HART Foundation pledging our commitment to the donation of IP in an effort to further the standard. Our commitment to collaborate on a standard is clear, demonstrated through action.
We find it curious how upset a few people appear about Emerson announcing our Smart Wireless strategy in late February. In point of fact, Emerson has chosen to be one of the last major automation suppliers to announce a wireless strategy. Many others have announced strategies in advance of ours and have been selling products for some time...without a confirmed standard. (Yet, there was no talk about them “hijacking the standard.”) We believe the efforts of anyone getting technology into the market for trial purposes helps advance the standards process, as standards are best built on real world experience.
As you stated in your blog, we likewise have witnessed and heard about some less-than-constructive behavior…back-channel politicking and manipulation of the process. This isn’t good for any of us, most importantly the customers who are anxiously awaiting this revolutionary technology. You’re right Walt, it ought to stop.
It’s important to note that the negativity witnessed within the working group isn’t representative of everyone. We genuinely appreciate how hard many people…competitors…are working to honor the process and develop a viable, open standard. We hope to see more members align with constructive actions toward a standard rather than further division. Then we can all diligently work to extend the benefits of HART to wireless. (With 20 million HART devices out there with trapped diagnostics, it’s critical that we do.)
On Foundation Fieldbus…
On a separate note, but referenced in your blog… we also don’t believe that "Foundation Fieldbus is ruined," as you stated. I wouldn’t let short-term comparative commercial figures taint the reality of how good the technology is. It belies the tremendous robustness and reliability the technology offers and is being achieved today, as well as the hard work of many companies…suppliers and users. It also belies the thousands of customers who have real, working installations. They are today enjoying technology that at one time was proven in field trials similar to the ones we are conducting on wireless today. It’s why many of the newest, state-of-the-art facilities are being built with Foundation Fieldbus.
Emerson is committed to open standards and will continue our efforts to work with industry end users and our competitors to achieve a wireless HART standard.
Director, WW Marketing Communications
Emerson Process Management
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Austin, Texas 78759 USA
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