ISA 2002: FDT Group demonstrates universal field device interface
Chicago, IL—To enable creation of common tools for configuring, accessing, and managing intel-ligent field devices, the FDT Group demonstrated its Field Device Tool (FDT) specification on Oct. 21 at ISA 2002 at McCormick Place. FDT Group reports that its FDT specification consists of the world's first universal field device interface solutions.
Chicago, IL - To enable creation of common tools for configuring, accessing, and managing intel-ligent field devices, the FDT Group demonstrated its Field Device Tool (FDT) specification on Oct. 21 at ISA 2002 at McCormick Place. FDT Group reports that its FDT specification consists of the world's first universal field device interface solutions. FDT Group is a collaboration of international automation vendors.
Regardless of device vendor or fieldbus protocol, the open FDT specification builds on and en-hances existing fieldbus technology by standardizing the interface between intelligent field devices and host systems. Using this standard, FDT-compliant interface, automation vendors can now provide users with a common environment, including graphical elements, for intelligent field devices.
'While most field integration solutions to date have focused on a single fieldbus protocol, such as FOUNDATION fieldbus, HART or Profibus, FDT will provide users greater freedom of choice relative to the types of field instrumentation that can be integrated into and supported from their control systems,' says Wil Chin, research director at ARC Advisory Group (Dedham, MA). 'By providing a common communications and operating interface, FDT technology can enable plant personnel to manage all their field assets without requiring extensive knowledge of multiple software solutions. Involved groups understand that successful collaboration between FDT, users and fieldbus organizations can be challenging. However, they also recognize that the resulting so-lution can fill a need that has been with us for a very long time.'
FDT Group reports that FDT technology offers compelling benefits for automation users and vendors alike. For users, FDT reportedly lowers lifecycle costs by simplifying instrument engi-neering, installation, maintenance and training; while improving asset management and utilization. FDT is also expected to provide automation vendors with a competitive advantage by enabling them to focus their resources on developing truly differentiating applications, rather than on having to continuously develop and support new interfaces.
A simple concept
The device supplier develops an FDT-compliant device description, called a Device Type Man-ager (DTM), for each of its field devices or group of devices. Existing device descriptions, such as those used for HART, FOUNDATION fieldbus or Profibus can be used to build the DTMs, thus preserving existing intellectual property.
In demonstrations this week at ISA 2002's Booth #3219, ABB, Endress+Hauser, Invensys Fox-boro, ifak system, M&M, Metso, Smar, Softing and Vega are showing that they've already developed DTMs for their intelligent field devices. DTM communications interfaces have already been developed for both HART and Profibus protocols. A prototype FOUNDATION fieldbus interface is also being demonstrated at ISA 2002. Other organizations currently supporting FDT technol-ogy include Burkert, CEAG, Danfoss, ICS, Krohne, Pepperl+Fuchs, PNO, Samson, Viga, Wika and ZVEI.
On the control system side, the system supplier defines a set of FDT-compliant interfaces be-tween the DTMs and the frame application, also known as the configuration environment. Infor-mation from field devices interfaced to the system via FDT can also be made available to plant and enterprise applications. Built on current Microsoft technology, FDT encompasses a standard, Microsoft Windows-based Graphical User Interface (GUI) and is designed to provide a clear path forward to the next generation of Microsoft technology.
FDT Group adds that its FDT concept has been implemented and proven in several industrial plants, including a grassroots chemical plant within the BASF Ludwigshafen facility in Germany, where HART field devices from four different vendors are efficiently integrated via remote I/O subsystems using FDT. BASF's Ludwigshafen site is reported to be the largest fieldbus installation in Europe.
FDT Group concludes that FDT specification is open to all companies that wish to use it and that the group is open all companies and organizations that care to participate.
For more on this topic, click here to read, ''FDT-The new concept for fieldbus communication.''
Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jim Montague, news editor