Evolution in Field Device Connectivity

The trend in the communication technologies used in process automation has seen a drive towards reduction in the amount of cabling required for communication and the supported infrastructure.


Figure 1 depicts the trend as seen in communication architecture found in process automation.

The dotted line represents an optional wireless link, whereas, the solid lines represent wired communication links. As can be seen from the figure, the move from 4-20 mA current loop (i.e. commonly used analog sensor signaling standard) to the fieldbus technology offered considerable reduction in required cabling, and this next phase of transition using wireless technology further eliminated most of the cables.
Figure 1. Comparison between conventional 4-20 mA current loop, fieldbus and wireless communication architectures

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