FAQ   | Login  


Home > About the HART Protocol > How HART Works


How HART Works

“HART” is an acronym for Highway Addressable Remote Transducer. The HART Protocol makes use of the Bell 202 Frequency Shift Keying (FSK) standard to superimpose digital communication signals at a low level on top of the 4-20mA.

Figure 1. Frequency Shift Keying (FSK)

This enables two-way field communication to take place and makes it possible for additional information beyond just the normal process variable to be communicated to/from a smart field instrument. The HART Protocol communicates at 1200 bps without interrupting the 4-20mA signal and allows a host application (master) to get two or more digital updates per second from a smart field device. As the digital FSK signal is phase continuous, there is no interference with the 4-20mA signal.

HART technology is a master/slave protocol, which means that a smart field (slave) device only speaks when spoken to by a master. The HART Protocol can be used in various modes such as point-to-point or multidrop for communicating information to/from smart field instruments and central control or monitoring systems.

HART Communication occurs between two HART-enabled devices, typically a smart field device and a control or monitoring system. Communication occurs using standard instrumentation grade wire and using standard wiring and termination practices.

The HART Protocol provides two simultaneous communication channels: the 4-20mA analog signal and a digital signal. The 4-20mA signal communicates the primary measured value (in the case of a field instrument) using the 4-20mA current loop - the fastest and most reliable industry standard. Additional device information is communicated using a digital signal that is superimposed on the analog signal.

The digital signal contains information from the device including device status, diagnostics, additional measured or calculated values, etc. Together, the two communication channels provide a low-cost and very robust complete field communication solution that is easy to use and configure.


Figure 2. Two Communication Channels

The HART Protocol provides for up to two masters (primary and secondary). This allows secondary masters such as handheld communicators to be used without interfering with communications to/from the primary master, i.e. control/monitoring system.

Figure 3. Primary and Secondary Masters

The HART Protocol permits all digital communication with field devices in either point-to-point or multidrop network configurations:

Figure 4. Point-to-Point Configuration

Multidrop Configuration

There is also an optional "burst" communication mode where a single slave device can continuously broadcast a standard HART reply message. Higher update rates are possible with this optional burst communication mode and use is normally restricted to point-to-point configuration.

 

Figure 5. Multidrop Configuration