Need for real-time data drives fieldbus adoption in the European process industries
28 October 2009
With features such as high functionality, reduced cabling, simple networking and easy maintenance, fieldbus devices have significant growth opportunities in the process automation market in Europe. The need of advanced diagnostic control and the demand for real-time data from field devices have underlined the requirement for these devices in the process automation environment. The predictive maintenance capability of fieldbus devices acts as a centralised control, enhancing the efficiency and operational capability of the process control units.
Reductions in cabling bulk results in substantial savings of capital expenditure and reduces the total man hours spent on maintenance. In addition, plant availability is increased by boosting add-on devices through lowered commissioning efforts. Thus, fieldbus devices provide the advantage of online information tracking, which helps in improving overall plant efficiency.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (http://www.industrialautomation.frost.com/), European Fieldbus Market, finds that the market is expected to earn revenues of $760.27 million by 2015 from $ 448.00 million in 2008. The need for real-time data and increased plant availability offered by fieldbus devices are to drive the market in future. The technologies covered in this research are highway addressable remote transducer (HART) fieldbus, foundation fieldbus H1, profibus, modbus, and others.
“The prognostic capability of fieldbus devices enables easy diagnosis of controllers or equipment and predicts if the device requires the attention of the operator,” says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Khadambari Shanbagaraman. “The flexibility of offering services from one central point by connecting additional devices to the bus provides compatibility and extends access to remote systems in the field, eases the work load of the maintenance person, and is an efficient fault detector with reduced debugging time.”
Maximum efficiency of a plant can be achieved only through its increased availability. The flexibility of connecting several fieldbuses makes data from inaccessible areas easy to obtain. The dynamic diagnostic capability and increased interoperability with other fieldbus devices improve robust and reliable transmission of information.
Fieldbus devices are perceived as a plug-and-play device. Simplicity in configuration and the flexibility of connecting add-on devices to it on a need basis are essential features of fieldbus devices. The advanced diagnostic module (ADM) of the fieldbus devices provides optimal transparency in the operation, which directly helps in achieving increased plant efficiency.
The global economic downturn has impelled end users to cut down on investments at every stage of the production process. Although, end users are willing to employ fieldbuses in their new projects or in greenfield applications, investments for the retrofits and existing projects are uncertain due to the global financial crisis.
“Although the equipment is simple to use, the technology used in the process is complex; and an end-user using different protocols is expected to be aware of all topologies and the different networking model,” explains Khadambari. “The more the benefits that a field bus provides, the more the complexity involved in the process.”
As the end users do not realise the long-term benefits of the fieldbus devices, the comprehensive training on the different protocols should be provided. The cost-saving features, predictive maintenance capabilities and asset life cycle management are some of the key features that need to be explained to end users to promote awareness.
“The need for an open system where field data is available at business level application is important to make the digital factory concept practical,” concludes Khadambari.
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