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Software solution helps configure intelligent field devices

Posted: 28 Jul 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Alex Mendelsohn? Yokogawa? FieldMate Advance?

Instrumentation house Yokogawa Corp. of America is starting shipment of its FieldMate Advance software to help configure and maintain intelligent field devices. The software runs as a Windows application.

The use of open interface Field Device Tool (FDT) technology facilitates the configuration and adjustment of field devices such as sensors and valves. FDT standardizes the communication interface between field devices and systems.

It's also independent of any communications protocol. It's also independent of either a device under control, or your host system. Essentially, FDT permits any device to be accessed from any host through any protocol.

Device type managers do itDevice suppliers initially develop new Device Type Managers (DTMs) for each devices or group of devices. The DTM encapsulates all device-specific data, functions and business rules such as the device structure, its communication capabilities, internal dependencies, and its human-machine interface (HMI) structure.

The DTMs provide functions for accessing device parameters, configuring and operating the devices, and diagnosing problems. DTMs can range from simple GUIs for setting device parameters to sophisticated applications capable of performing complex realtime calculations for diagnosis and maintenance purposes.

Frame applications
In use, a DTM is loaded and launched in an FDT container program, or a frame application. The host system environment has an FDT container that defines a set of interfaces between the hosting application and the DTMs. Frame applications can be device configuration tools, control system-engineering tools, operator consoles or asset management tools.

The frame application also contains the communication component to interface the host system with the specific fieldbus communication in use, such as HART, PROFIBUS, and FOUNDATION fieldbus. It will also work with the configuration method used by the device manufacturer. The FDT container initiates the DTM and enables the device to interoperate with the system engineering and operating environment.

Compelling benefits
The potential benefits of FDT are compelling for end-users and automation suppliers alike. Sensors and valves, for example, can be adjusted at production sites, regardless of manufacturer or communication protocols used.

What's more, FDT is an open interface supported by suppliers of intelligent devices and control systems. FDT facilitates the management and configuration of sensors installed at production sites and connected to host control systems and PCs, regardless of the communications protocol.

FDT creates an open environment in control systems and devices. FDT frees you from having to learn configuration methods from different manufacturers. It also eliminates the constraint of having to install devices from the same manufacturer.

Yokogawa claims the price of this software is lower than that of conventional hardware configurators. Yokogawa is also a board member of the FDT Group, which promotes the FDT technology.

Demand for this kind of configuration software is increasing as field devices become more intelligent, and digitalization of field communications moves forward. The growing number of device configuration parameters complicates initial configuration and daily maintenance of devices at production sites.

Furthermore, since a variety of communication protocols and configuration methods are in use, field devices from multiple manufacturers use different configurators, and/or have to deal with multiple configuration procedures.

EDDL is supported
Electronic device description language (EDDL) interface technology is also supported. Although EDDL and FDT both spell tradeoffs, the software accommodates both with device navigation and device maintenance features. As a one-tool-fits-all program, FieldMate advanced version has asset management capabilities using both FDT and EDDL.

FieldMate will also soon support enhanced EDDL, using SDC625 for HART and DD Service Revision 5 for FOUNDATIONfieldbus open standards.

- Alex Mendelsohn

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