The deployment of wireless networks to connect widely separated, often difficult-to-reach instruments in process facilities has proven over the past few years to be one of the leading edge examples of the practical use of wireless in industrial environments. Now, to help bridge the gap between those devices on the wireless system with the hardwired fieldbus system used to connect everything else in the facility, The Fieldbus Foundation is offering its Wireless and Remote I/O (WIO) technology.
WIO, which supports both WirelessHART and ISA 100.11a, is targeted at automation product and systems designers as means of providing those designers with access to an open, interoperable fieldbus automation infrastructure incorporating both Foundation fieldbus High Speed Ethernet (HSE) and industrial wireless applications. The WIO gateway is an interface to wired and wireless Ethernet technologies and uses Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) and Function Blocks to operate with other WIO gateways.
The WIO technology was tested in November 2010 at the Fieldbus Foundation’s facility in Austin, TX. The test involved using a WIO gateway to connect WirelessHART devices to a wireless backhaul network. The WirelessHART process parameters were mapped into transducer blocks in the gateway and communicated over the wireless backhaul network using the HSE protocol. The foundation’s HSE Interoperability Test Kit (ITK) system successfully tested the WIO gateway over a 300 Mbit/s wireless Wi-Fi backhaul network.
According to the Foundation, laboratory prototypes of WIO gateways from several automation suppliers are currently under test.
Tools and resources currently available to support the development of WIO devices include:
High Speed Ethernet Wireless and Remote I/O Specification: Defines a series of interoperable gateways to bring control I/O (both analog and discrete) back to plant automation systems over an international standard, high-speed network.
HSE Interoperability Test Kit (HSE ITK): Tests the functionality of an HSE device and its conformance with the Foundation fieldbus function block and transducer block specifications. The HSE ITK’s test cases have been updated to Device ITK Profile 6.0 and now support the VC++ 2008 (v9) standard.
For more information visit the Fieldbus Foundation’s Tools Page at www.fieldbus.org.
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