Foundation Fieldbus, HART in merger talks

The Fieldbus Foundation (FF) and the HART Communication Foundation are talks about a merger that would form a single industry body for device communications in the process automation sector. Mid-2014 has been set as a target date for completion.

The organisations are to each set up a team to study the merger. This would including looking at scope for collaboration and the economies of scale to be realised in training, testing and registration, as well as in marketing and communications. 

Under the proposals being discussed, both the FOUNDATION Fieldbus and HART specifications would continue to exist and evolve separately. The merged organisation would also continue to support the existing wireless strategies within each organisation. 

The merger would provide significant benefits to both end users and suppliers, Dr. Gunther Kegel, chairman of the FF and his HART counterpart Mark Schumacher said in a joint statement

The link-up, they believe, offers significant potential to harmonise many aspects of the two protocols, making it easier for end users and suppliers to implement the technology and obtain the full benefits of each technology in plant operations. 

"For end users, a single organisation that combines the power of both Fieldbus Foundation and HART Communication Foundation would provide a full solution that addresses every conceivable aspect of field communications and intelligent device management for the process industries," said the statement.

"For suppliers, a single organisation would create efficiencies in resource utilisation, consistency of processes and procedures, and would deliver significant improvements in member services and support,”  it added.

The two organisations have worked together in the past, for example on common international standards such as Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) and, most recently, the development of the Field Device Integration (FDI) specification.