Industry 4.0 concepts are comparatively easy to realize when building new industrial process systems. But when it comes to existing or brownfield systems that have always operated with the 4–20 mA communications standard, plant operators have been unable to justify the effort required to convert. To address this issue, Endress+Hauser is now introducing the FieldPort SWA50, a communications module designed for HART-capable instruments, which can establish a bridge to digital signal transmission without burdening the existing communications channels or impacting the system architecture. The new FieldPort SWA50 transmits additional data from the field instrument, parallel to the measurement values, and can be easily retrofitted to operate with HART-capable instruments. With this communications module, operators can take advantage of digitalization’s potential even in existing industrial systems.
Data is the foundation of Industry 4.0. Connectivity is one of the basic prerequisites for making it available. The challenge facing plant operators in Germany is that most of them have been operating their systems for years or even decades. As a result, they find themselves stuck in brownfield environments. This is also why NAMUR developed the so-called “NOA – NAMUR Open Architecture” and adopted the corresponding NE 175 NAMUR recommendation. The basic idea of the “NAMUR Open Architecture” is as simple as it is captivating: the transmission of additional digital data from the field level is carried out in parallel to the transmission of the measurement values across a second communications channel. This approach minimizes the amount of additional data traffic and the impact on existing system architectures.
The NAMUR Open Architecture (NOA) serves as an important bridge technology from the strict hierarchical structures of Industry 3.0 to the fully connected, digital Industry 4.0 environments. Implementing parallel data transmission as an extension makes it ideal for existing systems. Today, 97 percent of data from field instruments is not utilized. Existing systems thus contain a huge amount of potential that could be tapped into through digitalization. It also offers users an opportunity for permanent asset monitoring since instruments can be clearly identified and the configuration parameters and correct layout reflected in the “digital twin.” Thanks to state-of-the-art diagnostic functions, the health condition of “smart sensors” can be permanently monitored.
The “second channel” NOA concept provides service and maintenance personnel direct access to condition monitoring while reducing the volume of data in the core processes. Digitalization furthermore enables comprehensive asset management and process optimization through the additional analysis of monitoring data. The NOA is an important step in being able to exploit digitalization’s potential in existing systems. To realize the NOA concept in practice – for both new (greenfield) and existing (brownfield) plants – Endress+Hauser now offers a clever and simple solution with the new FieldPort SWA50.
90 percent of Endress+Hauser field instruments already feature a digital interface, including fieldbuses such as Profibus or FOUNDATION, in addition to HART, the most common technology. In practice though, the HART signal is not utilized in most environments. With the new FieldPort SWA50 wireless adapter, all HART signals can be transmitted parallel to the measurement values, including those from third-party manufacturers. The FieldPort SWA50 is intrinsically safe (Ex ia), loop powered and can be easily retrofitted to work with HART instruments from any manufacturer.
The HART signals can then be transmitted to the cloud via WirelessHART or Bluetooth®. If Bluetooth® is used, transmission is carried out via the FieldEdge SGC200 direct into the Endress+Hauser Netilion cloud. This provides users access to the entire range of Netilion services such as Netilion Analytics, Netilion Health and Netilion Value, which enable features such as condition monitoring and the remote display of measurement values. And with the SmartBlue app, users can remotely configure the field instrument parameters. In another step, the data can also be transmitted to customer-specific clouds or ERP solutions via an application programming interface (Netilion Connect). With WirelessHART, connectivity occurs via the Endress+Hauser FieldGate SWG70 and the FieldEdge SGC500.
To date, the lack of options for transmitting data from field instruments has been a roadblock in the implementation of Industry 4.0 concepts, thus halting any progress in the digitalization of brownfield plants in Germany. With the introduction of the FieldPort SWA50, it’s now possible to retrofit the communications modules and securely utilize the data available in the instruments with cloud applications such as Endress+Hauser Netilion – all with minimal effort – since communication occurs via the second channel recommended by NAMUR. And because it features an intrinsically safe Ex ia design, the technology can be employed in most plants without restrictions, thus extensively paving the way for Industry 4.0.