The Fieldbus Foundation and the HART Communication Foundation announced they are merging into a new industry organization dedicated to the development, management and promotion of global standards for integrating devices within the process automation industry.

"The combined power of both organizations will serve to protect the investments that end-users in process automation have made in HART and FOUNDATION fieldbus communication technologies," according to a joint announcement released by the entities' Boards of Directors July 24. "The mission of the combined organization will be to develop, manage, and promote global standards for integrating devices into automation-system architectures, providing functional solutions for process automation suppliers and end-users. Suppliers will also profit from the increased efficiencies in resource utilization, procedure consistency, and member service and support improvements."

The Fieldbus Foundation and HART Communication Foundation have a long history of cooperation. The two worked together to develop common international standards, such as Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) specifications and Field Device Integration (FDI) technology. Combining the organizations offers significant potential for harmonizing the procedures and efforts supporting the two protocols, as well as simplifying each technology's implementation while better delivering their full benefits in plant operation and maintenance, the announcement said.

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The FOUNDATION fieldbus and HART specifications will continue to exist individually, and to evolve into the future. Each protocol will retain its own brand name, trademarks, patents, and copyrights.

The new organization will continue development, support, and promotion of the two existing protocols, and will direct the development, incorporation, and implementation of new and overlapping technologies. Thus, the new organization will eventually serve as the single source for FDI, the sole integration tool for HART and FOUNDATION fieldbus technologies. The name of the proposed organization is not yet finalized.

The next step will be to complete the membership ballot by the end of summer 2014. Following a successful membership vote, legal filings for the creation of a new not-for-profit entity will take place in September 2014. As a final step, it is expected that the new organization offices will be consolidated and located near Austin, Texas, in early 2015.