HART expects big benefits with enhanced EDDL specification

By Control Engineering Staff September 1, 2005
HART EDDL Interoperability Workshop participants consult while working on tables full of host applications.

Implementation of recently completed enhancements to the Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL, IEC 61804-2) by system and device suppliers is expected to revolutionize the process automation industry, representatives of HART Communication Foundation (HCF) said on Aug. 18. Enhancements make standardized device configuration a reality allowing users to easily visualize and configure millions of installed HART-enabled intelligent devices in similar ways. Final specifications are expected mid- to late October, and “revolutionary” new products based on the specifications may be released as early as year-end, HCF says.

The EDDL enhancements are one of several HCF initiatives to address what had become a trend for manufacturers—to deviate from the HART device description standard, suggests Ron Helson, HCF executive director. Some automation and instrumentation vendors had added incompatible elements to device descriptions, increasing functionality to HART device configurators and asset management software, but limiting interoperability of the device descriptions. Unified EDDL enhancements result from previously reported collaboration among HART Communication Foundation, Fieldbus Foundation , Profibus Trade Organization , OPC Foundation , and automation system and device suppliers. Specifications for the enhanced EDDL have been submitted to the IEC for approval; manufacturers have begun implementation of the new EDDL to release compliant, enhanced products as soon as the specification is final, Helson says. Other HCF initiatives to address deviations from the HART device description standard include new standardized tools, technology, and registration programs for device descriptions and host applications.

Folders and subfolders of the traditional HART tree-based menu (left) relate directly to elements in the Enhanced Device Description Language menu (right) with tank and graphic images displayed.

“Standardization of device configuration is as significant to the process industry as the creation of Microsoft Windows was for PCs,” says Ed Ladd, director of technology programs for HCF. “One device description to work everywhere—that’s our goal. And we expect this technology to be available to users by the first of the year.” Functionally, vendors and end-users will save time and effo rt by again simplifying how everyone interacts with device descriptions, he suggests. Enhanced EDDL enables users to interact with their intelligent devices in new ways. Enhancements include improved data visualization and display capabilities, like waveforms and valve signatures, a standardized method to access historic measurement or device performance information, and enhanced tools for high-level information (such as algorithmic relationships for complex device parameters) display and use in control systems.

During the EDDL Enhancements Interoperability Workshop (Düsseldorf, Germany, July 12-14) 11 HCF member companies used HCF standard EDDL tools—Device Description Integrated Development Environment (DD-IDE) and Smart Device Configurator (SDC-625)—to assess interoperability of enhanced EDD files for their devices across different EDD-enabled host platforms. HCF member companies participating in the Interoperability Workshop were: ABB, Emerson, Endress+Hauser, Exalon Delft, Foxboro-Eckardt, Honeywell, Krohne, Saab, Samson, Siemens, and Vega.

Such use of “enhanced EDDL benefits both users and developers by reducing complexity and streamlining the process,” Ladd adds. “Enhanced capabilities provide users with more information about the connected device while giving developers tools they need to ensure a consistent look and feel across DDL-enabled host applications.”

EDDL has been part of HART technology since 1990 and is the only technology endorsed by HCF for configuration of HART devices; 70% of all smart process measurement and control instruments installed worldwide each year use HART Communication; and the global installed base of HART-enabled devices is the largest of all communication protocols at more than 15 million, HCF says. Features include 4-20 mA compatibility, ease of use, low risk, and cost-efficient implementation for users and suppliers, HCF says.

For more from Control Engineering on this topic, see:

“Cooperative project advancing support for EDDL technology”

“Hannover Fair 2005: HCF debuts enhanced DDL, starts wireless HART effort at Interkama”

“Electronic Device Descriptions to be extended into OPC’s Unified Architecture”

“HART foundation releases device description development tools”

Mark T. Hoske, editor-in-chief, Control Engineering, MHoske@cfemedia.com