PROFIBUS continues to be the best-positioned candidate for an international industrial control highway standard.

A "PROFIBUS public information site" is operated by PROFIBUS International, an umbrella organization for PROFIBUS 'User Groups' which now boast more than 675 users in 20 countries in Europe, North and South America, Africa, and the Pacific Rim.

Profibus is far ahead of any similar standard in terms of installed systems and available products.

Since Fieldbus has been rejected by IEC as an international standard for the 3d time, it is likely that the IEC 61158 committee will propose a new IEC standard which merges the Profibus EN 50 170 and Fieldbus IEC 61158 standards. In the meantime, if you have to make major investments in process control standards, it would be best to select products which are upgradable, with a minimum of disruption and cost, to support whatever standard eventually emerges.

The good news is that we may soon get a single standard for what is at the end of the day, a relatively small market. It has been estimated that the world-wide market for process control systems is less than 10% of the market for video games and video game software. We cannot afford to dissipate our efforts with a plethora of competing standards. It is important that a standard be chosen and adopted quickly if the potential gains of this technology (estimated to be from 10% to 30% savings in installed cost) are to be realized.

by Gary Rathwell reserved

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