September/October 2012

New committee clarifies broader market for intelligent devices

Today's typical transmitter is able to communicate in excess of 300 parameters, but questions remain: Which of these parameters other than the process variable are of use to the facility operator? Which ones should be captured, how do you capture them, and to whom do you send them so they can be useful to improve your facility operations? The answers lie in the formation of ISA-108, Intelligent Field Devices.

Intelligent field devices, pervasive in modern process manufacturing, promise to transform the way information is used related to these devices and to the processes they control. Manufacturers can identify devices with impending maintenance problems earlier and provide information directly to process automation systems, plant asset management systems, or any other systems or software in a plant as required. Yet much of the time, this promise remains unrealized because users are employing old maintenance work processes with new technology. The new devices and applications are installed, but operators and technicians stick to their traditional approaches to preventive or routine maintenance and do not take advantage of the huge amount of information available.

"Understanding the real-time health of your process will allow you to more effectively plan your facility turnarounds by working on the right pieces of equipment at the right time or at least by being able to schedule that timing for minimal negative economic impact," said ISA108 Managing Director Ian Verhappen.

The committee's work will especially affect process industries that tend to use a larger proportion of smart field devices. Once the committee has created standard practices "they can then form the basis for best practices with experience, which will then be incorporated in subsequent revisions of the standards," Verhappen said. "Having a methodology to capture the information will make doing so part of the standard design of projects, much like data historians for process variables."

The potential market for ISA-108 standards includes all manufacturers of field devices, control systems, and asset management software, as well as the end users who purchase and install their equipment. "We have also received significant interest from manufacturing organizations, such as HART, FF, Profibus, and FDT," Verhappen said.

The ISA108 committee is looking for a balance in membership, so anyone interested is encouraged to participate, "especially if you are engaged in or have experience in implementing an asset management system," Verhappen said. Sharing your experience means others can benefit from lessons you have learned. "So you can avoid repeating any of the lessons you may have had to learn the hard way."

ISA108 held an initial meeting in September in Orlando, Fla., in conjunction with ISA Automation Week. The bulk of the committee's work will be conducted electronically.

If you are interested in participating in ISA108, please contact Ellen Fussell Policastro of ISA Standards,