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Fieldbus Technology How a Fieldbus Infrastructure Ensures Effective Process Management

Author / Editor: Andreas Hennecke / Dr. Jörg Kempf

Nobody doubts that digitalization is the key to comprehensive process control. That is why Fieldbus H1 and Profibus PA are at the core of any new system. They not only enable digitalizing process control from the PCS all the way down to each individual device. They also pave the way for the big data approach of a new generation of production control.

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Trunk-and-spur topology. One spur for each field device provides transparency and operational safety.
Trunk-and-spur topology. One spur for each field device provides transparency and operational safety.
(Picture: Pepperl+Fuchs)

Journey back in time to the 1950s and1960s: Three black and white television channels are a sought-after luxury. There are simple adjustment dials for both volume and brightness. The resolution is 30 lines — around 1280 pixels — with a refresh rate of 12.5 Hz. Electronics is finding its way into the process industry: Instead of compressed air, a thin two-wire cable provides power supply and instrument control.

The resistance is high: Maintenance people must now carry a device with them all the time: the multimeter! The counterargument: “With compressed air, I can hear whether it is working if I pull out the hose.” The planning engineer says: “Now I have to switch everything to the new technology and cannot just create a carbon copy of the previous system.” (The photocopier has already been invented, but has not yet been universally introduced.)

At this point, we will avoid repeating the advantages of digital communication using Profibus PA or Foundation Fieldbus H1. As is also the case with conversion from compressed air to electrical signals, the benefits can be reaped when all of the tasks from planning and commissioning to operation and maintenance are adapted to fully utilize the features. Process automation with fieldbus already starts today for itself at commissioning time.

The fieldbus is essential for all those who are serious about the “Internet of Things” and Big Data. In this respect, the following instructions apply to all digital transmission systems, including Hart and Wireless Hart.

250 automation specialists attended the 2015 PI conference in Speyer. This conference is organized every two years by Profibus and Profinet International. Workshops demonstrated the practical application, showing how a fieldbus infrastructure ensures effective process management. The workshop on planning and explosion protection showed, using the example of Profibus PA, how planning needs to be adjusted, so that the first “profit” from a higher level of efficiency and shorter project duration can be seen at commissioning time.

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