Q&A Ask an expert: field device organisations’ merger

February 13th, 2014, Published in Articles: EngineerIT

The Fieldbus Foundation and HART Communication Foundation have signed a memorandum of understanding for a possible merger of the two organisations. This proposed merger is still in the exploratory phase and is not yet guaranteed. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the merger.

The Fieldbus Foundation Southern Africa Marketing Committee (FFSAMC) is a not-for-profit organisation marketing Foundation Fieldbus technology in Southern Africa. Gary Friend is the current chairman of the FFSAMC and can be reached on gary@extech.co.za / www.foundationfieldbus.co.za

Gary-Friend1
Gary Friend.

Is the merger a foregone conclusion, with an agreement to merge the two organisations that has been approved by the boards of directors?

Answer

No. What has been agreed is that each organisation will appoint a study team to review the possibility of merging the organisations based on an increased value of a single organisation, as well as significant benefits to their respective memberships and the automation industry in general.

Would this be a true merger or an acquisition of one organisation by another?

Answer

The merger would be a true merger of equals and not an acquisition of any one organisation by another. A combined organisation of Fieldbus Foundation and HART technologies could better leverage the complementary benefits of the technologies. The new combined organisation would create more cooperation and collaboration. In addition, improved economies of scale would be realised through merging training and education; seminars; testing and registration; participation at trade shows, conferences, and events; online presence; and social media strategies.

I am a member of only one of the foundations. How would a merger affect my future membership?

Answer

Membership in either one of the existing foundations would carry over into the new proposed organisation with the same rights and benefits that members enjoy today.

If I were a member of both foundations, how would this affect my membership costs?

Answer

While we have begun an analysis of our respective memberships, we have not yet defined the membership model as it relates to membership dues. Members of both foundations should see increased efficiencies and reduced total costs as more and more standards, processes and procedures are harmonised. Over time, we anticipate suppliers recognising more efficiency compared to membership in both organisations.

How would the proposed organisation deal with the different wireless strategies that exist?

Answer

The proposed organisation would continue to support the wireless strategies that exist today within each organisation.

Would the two organisations move to a single location?

Answer

Pending approval of the merger, the plan is to co-locate both organisations into a single facility as soon as it is practical.

If the investigation were successful, when would a merger likely happen?

Answer

There is still a lot of exploratory work to do in regard to due diligence in the financial and legal arenas. Everything we do must meet strict criteria in terms of benefitting our membership and the broader automation market, including our mutual end users. Once that is done, there are board and membership votes and, if successful, legal filings. Our target is to have everything completed by mid-2014.

Who will decide if the merger is to proceed?

Answer

The decision to proceed with the merger will flow through three steps. First, the study team will prepare a report and recommendation for each board of directors. Once that is completed, the boards will individually vote to proceed or not. Finally, if both boards vote to proceed with the merger, the proposal will go to a member vote in both organisations.

What are some of the goals of the proposed new merged organisation?

Answer

There are a number of goals: collaboration on new and existing technologies.; fully integrated marketing strategy to advance the extensive use of digital devices; improved products and services; and increased market share of digital field devices in total device market.

Would the technologies and protocols of both foundations continue to exist and evolve on their own?

Answer

Both the Foundation Fieldbus and HART specifications would continue to exist separately and evolve. Each protocol would retain and maintain its own brand name, trademarks, patents and copyrights. The proposed organisation would continue to seek areas of logical harmonisation just as we have with EDDL and FDI.

How would the proposed merger affect the current activities regarding FDI?

Answer

Both organisations are totally committed to the FDI project and would continue to support FDI as the sole integration technique for smart devices.

How would the merger affect host system, and device testing and registration?

Answer

Both the Fieldbus Foundation and HART Communication Foundation are currently working on common device and host testing procedures under the FDI Cooperation initiative. That is one of the major benefits of the FDI project. We anticipate that we will move toward a common set of procedures for both device and host testing, and a common registration process.