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Progress on EDDL and FDT protocol convergence

Work has been underway since last fall. Is there any progress yet?

February 15, 2012


Dear Control Engineering: Last fall you talked about the formation of a new organization with the purpose of bringing the EDDL and FDT/DTM protocols together. How has that been going? Is there any progress after nearly six months?

A new company, named FDI Cooperation had its formal start last September when representatives from the FDT Group, Fieldbus Foundation, HART Communication Foundation, Profibus & Profinet International, and OPC Foundation all signed the initial agreement. Additionally, a group of automation suppliers (ABB, Emerson, Endress+Hauser, Honeywell, Invensys, Siemens, and Yokogawa) promised to support the group’s efforts.

FDI is intended to be something of a synthesis of EDDL and FDT/DTM so users don’t have to choose between two competing platforms that do largely the same thing. The main points of the mission are:

• Complete the standardization of FDI under IEC
• Manage the FDI specification
• Finalize the FDI tool kits for system and device manufacturers
• Promote and provide high quality technology support for FDI, independent of and common for the respective communication protocols
• Preserve end users’ and automation manufacturers’ investments by providing state-of-the-art technology that is fully backward compatible, and
• Ensure stability, interoperability and compatibility of FDI-based products.

So far, the group has published the first draft of the FDI specification, and has demonstrated progress on two major fronts:

Harmonization of EDDL—Foundation fieldbus, Profibus, and HART all use EDDL as a core technology, but they all use slightly different variations of the technology. FDI Cooperation has harmonized EDDL across communication protocols. This enables FDI to provide single cross protocol FDI design and test tools including a common EDD interpreter. EDDL harmonization is now complete, and this greatly facilitates the second step -- harmonization between EDDL and FDT technologies, which is the ultimate goal.

Concept proven—In November, 2011, at the NAMUR meeting in Germany, FDI device packages were used for the first time to integrate Foundation Fieldbus, HART, and Profibus field devices from various manufacturers within an ABB process control system. Typical applications, such as parameter assignment, configuration, diagnostics, and maintenance, were demonstrated. The purpose of the working prototype was to verify the FDI concepts, apply the standard host components in a system context, and demonstrate FDI functionality.

Next steps include:

• Completion of conformance test concepts, mid-2012
• Completion of the validation and release of the FDI specifications for member review within the foundations, mid-2012, and
• Completion of the FDI standard host components, such as EDD engine and user interface (UI) engine, end of 2012.

One thing we’re still waiting for is the organization’s Website to be completed: www.fdi-cooperation.com. Stay tuned.

Peter Welander, pwelander(at)cfemedia.com