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Definition: Fieldbus (or field bus) is the name of a family of industrial computer network protocols used for real-time distributed control, now standardized as IEC 61158.
A complex automated industrial system say a manufacturing assembly line usually needs an organized hierarchy of controller systems to function.
In this hierarchy there is usually a Human Machine Interface (HMI) at the top, where an operator can monitor or operate the system.
This is typically linked to a middle layer of programmable logic controllers (PLC) via a non time critical communications system (e.g. Ethernet). At the bottom of the control chain is the fieldbus which links the PLCs to the components which actually do the work such as sensors, actuators, electric motors, console lights, switches, valves and contactors.
Source: Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fieldbus)
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