Introduction of Products for the New Wireless Standard

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Another criticism was the variety of batteries used. Each manufacturer developed its own battery pack optimized for a specific field device. Although there are technical reasons for this, such a development is anything but user-friendly: for plant operators, a variety of batteries increases handling, storage, and maintenance costs. Namur has therefore started an initiative to standardize battery formats. Pepperl+Fuchs realized this problem right from the start, and its WirelessHart temperature converter uses a standardized, D-cell-sized battery that can be exchanged even in Zone 1 environments.

To improve network diagnostics, BASF suggested unified key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine whether a WirelessHart network performs well and to indicate possible sources of problems. Such KPIs would allow users to quickly detect network malfunctions, and perhaps even diagnose problems, without detailed network knowledge or statistics. Pepperl+Fuchs will integrate such KPIs into its products as soon as possible.

A usable technology

Pepperl+Fuchs views the overall result of the field test as positive; WirelessHart can be viewed as a usable technology. Wireless communication between devices from different manufacturers works well, and there are no fundamental objections to the market introduction of WirelessHart.

Integration with DCSs and production control systems certainly still call for some improvements. The support of all DD and DTM versions by Pepperl+Fuchs is one way to overcome this problem until host systems can be properly standardized.

As an expert in communication infrastructures, Pepperl+Fuchs continues to drive the development of this new technology. At the Hanover Fair in April, Pepperl+Fuchs presented its WirelessHart Gateway, WirelessHart Adapter and WirelessHart Temperature Converter as the first products available.

* G. Lohmann is Product Manager and X. Meyer is Technical Editor Global Marketing in the Process Automation Division of Pepperl+Fuchs, Mannheim/Germany.