Archive | November 2013

Everything You Wanted to Know About FDI But Were Afraid to Ask

FDI, also known as Field Device Integration, is the technical specification that will allow device developers to use a single device package that combines elements of FDT (Field Device Tool) and EDDL (Electronic Device Description Language).  Without getting bogged down in acronym soup, all you really need to know is that EDDL is like HTML for intelligent field devices, providing a standard environment for devices to describe what they are, what they can do, and the information they can provide.  FDT/DTM is analogous to an application environment that can provide more depth of functionality. FDT/DTM is well suited to handling complex diagnostics and monitoring functions on more complex devices.  You can develop FDT frame applications for managing intelligent field devices.  Both technologies are widely adopted by suppliers.

You can read all about EDDL at the EDDL Web Site

You can read more about FDT/DTM Technology at the FDT Group Web Site

Both EDDL and FDT technologies are complementary in many ways, and competing in others. Both define how some aspects of device data are displayed.  Extensions were made to EDDL (Enhanced EDDL) that now make it do more sophisticated things with graphical displays and more.  The history of the two technologies may have played out like the “fieldbus wars” of the 1990s, but both technologies are going to stay and both have good use cases.  All the major suppliers now support both.

EDDL and its corresponding device descriptions are mandatory for any intelligent field devices developed for FOUNDATION fieldbus, HART, and Profibus, so it’s not going anywhere.  FDT/DTM technology has found its way into most plant asset management and intelligent device management applications.  What is required is a single device package that combines elements of both FDT and EDDL to speed development time for new products and ease the deployment of intelligent device management in plants.

That’s what FDI does.  The most crucial part of FDI is the single device package that allows a supplier to develop a FOUNDATION fieldbus device, HART device, or PROFIBUS PA device using a single device package for each protocol, as well as standard hosts.  The protocol foundations and organizations will then test and register each FDI-compatible device and/or host according to their specifications.  Both EDDL and FDT continue to exist,  but things are made easier for device developers and end users spend less time worrying about how to get different technologies to play well with each other and can spend more time actually getting the most out of their applications.  Everybody wins. But not without a successful FDI specification.

Elements of FDI Device Package and Host

FDI Cooperation LLC is the organization established by the combined efforts of the FDT Group, Fieldbus Foundation, HART Communication Foundation, OPC Foundation, and Profibus International, along with support from most of the major automation suppliers, to see the FDI specification through to completion.  This includes not only the single device package but also a facility for OPC integration, an Integrated Development Environment and an application guide.  This way, developers have both the specification and the tools to help them develop FDI hosts and devices that fully conform to the standard .

You can also view an excellent YouTube video by our own Stephen Mitschke that fully describes FDI and its history.  Fieldbus Foundation has also written a white paper about FDI.

The first official release of the FDI specification was announced at the recent NAMUR annual meeting. The FDI specification and the latest Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) specifications were handed over to the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for the next important phase—the Committee Draft for Vote—in the international standardization process. FDI will be included in the emerging standard IEC 62769.

You can download version 0.9 of the FDI specification at the FDI Cooperation web site.

With the release of the FDI specification, FDI Cooperation demonstrated a preview edition of the common cross protocol Integrated Development Environment (IDE), which will help device manufacturers create FDI Device Packages for Foundation fieldbus, HART and Profibus devices. The purpose of standard developer tools is to ensure that automation suppliers can develop high-quality, reliable FDI-based solutions in a consistent manner. A standard set of developer tools significantly reduces development costs and speeds time to market for both device developers and system developers.

FDI Demonstration 

There was also a physical demonstration of FDI at the NAMUR meeting.  The live demonstration at the NAMUR Annual General Meeting showed FDI functionality in field devices from six different suppliers, all of which are integrated with the help of FDI device packages within a process control system. The demonstration, organized and constructed by Siemens, included typical use cases, such as parameter assignment, configuration, diagnostics, functional testing, and maintenance. This was the first time a commercial system based on common components was applied to interpret FDI device packages.

FOUNDATION Fieldbus H1 Interoperability Test Kit 6.1.1 Now Available

The Fieldbus Foundation today is pleased to announce the release of the Foundation fieldbus H1 Interoperability Test Kit (ITK) 6.1.1. The H1 ITK is an advanced testing solution benefitting both developers and end users of Foundation fieldbus H1 devices.

The latest version of the Interoperability test kit reflects the increased focus of the Fieldbus Foundation on usability. The Fieldbus Foundation has already made enhancements to its Interoperability Test Kit (ITK) that make it easier for end users to replace “Like for Like” devices. In other words, the procedure for replacing a device with a newer revision level of the same make and model of device is automated to allow the configuration in an existing field instrument to be restored in a newer version of that instrument without manual intervention.

ITK Version 6.1.1, a maintenance release, is yet another example of the Fieldbus Foundation’s commitment to this usability-focused continuous improvement process. This latest release includes 64-bit Microsoft® Windows support. The full H1 suite of testing tools, including the Automation Toolkit, is now compatible with modern 64-bit testing systems. Utilizing the Automation Toolkit alongside the H1 ITK allows device suppliers to develop and enhance their products easily and rapidly. Updated test cases for various function blocks and transducer blocks are available to maintain compatibility and fix bugs.

The H1 ITK consists of a test engine, communication stack and function block interface card. An excellent tool for troubleshooting and debugging Foundation fieldbus instruments, it includes all hardware and software required to ensure complete device interoperability. By using the H1 ITK, instrument manufacturers can thoroughly test their devices prior to submitting their product for official registration with the Fieldbus Foundation. By ensuring conformance with the Foundation fieldbus specification, developers are able to deliver robust products and enhancements to their users.

The H1 ITK 6.1.1 is available immediately to Fieldbus Foundation members holding active maintenance agreements and for new purchases. For more information, please call the foundation at 512-794-8890 or e-mail member.services@fieldbus.org. To obtain pricing information or download an FAQ, please visit the Tools page on the foundation website at http://www.fieldbus.org.

Report from Sales Force Training Seminar in Belgium

Our Benelux Marketing Committee recently held a sales force training seminar in Brasschaat, Belgium.  Looks like an extremely successful seminar was held with presentations from both an end user and a major EPC.  Sales force training is an ongoing initiative at the Fieldbus Foundation and we are very happy to extend this concept to the EMEA market.  Many salespeople simply do not receive adequate training in fieldbus and even a one day seminar can be greatly informative.  Here is the report from Belgium:

“Fieldbus Foundation Benelux continuously looks for different and new ways to close the gap between the members marketing/sales forces and end users. Three years ago FFBenelux actively added End-Users as special member to the Benelux marketing committee. This year Fieldbus Foundation Benelux again has organised a new type of seminar which took place October 31st at the new Acta education centre in Brasschaat (Belgium).  What was new? This time the targeted audience (Sales forces of member companies) enjoyed during a late afternoon masterclass lectures of End-Users and experienced EPCs.

One of Our Most Well Attended Sales Force Training Seminars

The aim of the seminar was to provide salespeople with more background information and technology. Field experiences of contractors and end-users were shared. Presentations of Fluor and BP gave a sneak preview of the decision time line for ‘smart instrumentation’ for project engineers. The seminar was closed after a live demonstration of replacing a field device .

Facility Tour

Why a seminar for salespeople?

Suppliers in the Benelux do not only supply Foundation Fieldbus instruments, but also offer a lot of other smart instrumentation for Profibus, WirelessHart and more. Sometimes, it is difficult to advise the end-user properly about the right technology at the right moment. By giving field sales people more background information, they can better advise their customer in the decision of the best solution for their respective applications.”

Differences in Fieldbuses and Ethernet Communications

Great blog post by Jonas Berg and Jim Cahill over at Emerson!

Differences in Fieldbuses and Ethernet Communications

First Public Release of FDI Spec

The Fieldbus Foundation is pleased to announce the first public release of FDI Cooperation, LLC’s Field Device Integration (FDI) specification and a demo of the FDI developer toolkits, both of which will make it possible for automation suppliers to prepare for developing products and host systems compatible with FDI.

The Fieldbus Foundation is one of the founding members of FDI Cooperation, LLC.

As part of the release, which coincided with the NAMUR annual meeting, the FDI specification and the latest Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) specifications were handed over to the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for the next important phase—the Committee Draft for Vote—in the international standardization process. FDI will be included in the emerging standard IEC 62769.

At the core of the FDI specification is the FDI Device Package that includes everything a host system needs to integrate an intelligent device. With FDI, a single FDI Device Package that can scale according to the complexities and requirements of each device represents individual instruments.

Each FDI Device Package contains a mandatory Device Description (EDD), providing parameter definitions, structure for the parameters for context-specific views, and automated work processes for device procedures such as calibration. FDI Device Packages may also incorporate User Interface Plug-Ins, software components that support advanced device setup and diagnostic functions. Additionally, product manuals, documentation, images, electronic certifications and other attachments may be delivered in the FDI Device Package.

FDI Device Packages make it easier for automation suppliers to develop and integrate intelligent devices because they only need to create a single, unified FDI Device Package for each intelligent device that can work with all host systems and tools, reducing overall development costs while preserving and expanding existing functionality. Users will also find it easier to manage information from intelligent devices with a single device package, instead of juggling different technologies and investing significant capital in custom integration efforts to connect multiple technology platforms.

With the release of the FDI specification, FDI Cooperation demonstrated a preview edition of the common cross protocol Integrated Development Environment (IDE), which will help device manufacturers create FDI Device Packages for Foundation fieldbus, HART and Profibus devices. The purpose of standard developer tools is to ensure that automation suppliers can develop high-quality, reliable FDI-based solutions in a consistent manner. A standard set of developer tools significantly reduces development costs and speeds time to market for both device developers and system developers.

The IDE will include a reference host that allows device developers to execute and test FDI Device Package against a standard implementation to ensure product quality.

The demo of the developer tools was based on the protocol-independent FDI Common Host Components. Host system manufacturers implement FDI Common Host Components for device management tools, asset management tools, and process automation systems. FDI Common Host Components allow for rapid development and ensure FDI Device Packages behave consistently across different systems. FDI Host Components fully support legacy EDD libraries to protect end user investments.

The live demonstration at the NAMUR Annual General Meeting showed FDI functionality in field devices from six different suppliers, all of which are integrated with the help of FDI device packages within a process control system. The demonstration, organized and constructed by Siemens, included typical use cases, such as parameter assignment, configuration, diagnostics, functional testing, and maintenance. This was the first time a commercial system based on common components was applied to interpret FDI device packages.

The FDI specification will be available for download at http://www.fdi-cooperation.com.

Automation Software: They’ll Make a Better Software Fool

Automation Software: They’ll Make a Better Software Fool

Nice column by John rezabek, Chairman of our End User Advisory Council, on control in the field and the “Hold Last” behavior of fieldbus positioners.  

Report on the Seminar in Brunn, Austria

The Fieldbus Foundation Central and Eastern European Marketing Committee (FFCEEMC), together with fieldbus experts from the Fieldbus Foundation headquarters in Austin, Texas, and trainers from the certified training centers in Brielle (Netherlands) and Miskolc (Hungary), hosted a fieldbus sales training and end user seminar at the Austria Trend Hotel in Brünn, Austria from October 21-22.  The events were hosted by Mr. Jürgen George (Chairman – FFCEEMC) and members of the FFCEEMC.  Larry O’Brien, marketing manager of the Fieldbus Foundation was in attendance as well as Dr. Bindert Douma (certified FOUNDATION trainer – STC Group, Brielle, the Netherlands) and Mr József Subert and Victor Füvesi (certified FOUNDATION trainers – University of Miskolc, Hungary).
Demo Unit from University of Miskolc

Juergen George does an excellent job organizing and executing these seminars across Central and Eastern Europe. Bindert Douma from STC Brielle has years of experience engineering fieldbus projects and is one of our certified trainers under the FCTP program. It was a great chance to hear him share his experience on fieldbus projects.  József Subert did excellent presentations on how to design a fieldbus system and take advantage of control in the field. It was also good to connect with various end users and suppliers, roughly 40 attendees from all over CEE, not just Austria. We have many FOUNDATION fieldbus installations throughout CEE, including the MOL refinery in Hungary. Our trainers from the University of Miskolc FOUNDATION Certified Training Program partner had a nice demonstration set up where they showed access to diagnostic data, control in the field, and more.  

Audience Members

With a program specifically designed to support sales representatives and internal sales support staff responsible for fieldbus products, services and projects, the sales force training session took place on the afternoon of October 21st and included the following topics:

FOUNDATION fieldbus overview
Implementing FOUNDATION fieldbus projects
How salespeople can most effectively approach end users
Value of selling FOUNDATION fieldbus (from the sales person’s perspective)
Open discussion and question & answer session

The end user seminar took place on Tuesday 22 October from 09.30 until 16.00. The end user seminar program offered attendees a comprehensive agenda of technical presentations and the opportunity to share end user experiences. It offers a good opportunity for local fieldbus partners to spend the day with customers and other interested parties and fieldbus experts. The presentations at the End User Seminar day included:

Introduction to the FFCEEMC
Update on activities at Fieldbus Foundation and resources for training and education
Strategies for managing data from fieldbus devices
Planning the fieldbus infrastructure (including explosion protection and safety instrumented functions)
Commissioning the hardware; implementing fieldbus projects; diagnostics and trouble-shooting
End user experience
Open discussion and question & answer session

For more information on FFCEEMC seminars and activities go to their web pages.

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