Three wishes for an easier life with HART

04/17/2014


Adherence to NAMUR NE 107

Frank Fengler, head of device integration management at ABB Automation Products GmbH, stated that ABB already adheres to NAMUR NE 107 requirements. "We started this process with the integration of asset management into our systems," he said. The company's Asset Optimiser tool, for example, includes an Asset Monitor application that shows all the diagnostics information of devices in accordance with the NAMUR guidelines. "In addition, this provides a description, possible cause and suggested actions for each message displayed. Asset monitor is a vendor independent tool that works with all DTM or EDD-enabled devices."

On the subject of device integration software tools, Fengler explained that today ABB has a single integration tool and in the future will also offer an FDI-based solution. "The devices themselves will not change, but will simply be given an additional 'file' in the driver," said Fengler.

Finally, Fengler mentioned some ABB moves towards reduced device complexity. He said: "ABB can offer its Asset Vision Basics tool as an application with a easy-to-use graphic interface that connects directly to a device and brings up the screen needed to configure the most important functions of the device. Further, the ABB pressure transmitter range features a single device file so it is not necessary to search for the correct device driver software for a particular pressure application."

Bob Lattimer, senior principal engineer at Emerson Process Management said that Emerson fully supports the provision of NAMUR NE 107 in its devices. "We have not yet registered any devices, However, NE 107 functionality will be included in all new field devices in the near future - starting in 2014," he promised.

Emerson is also working hard to provide consistent integration across its product range and ensure that the behavior of its devices is consistent. "We are also working hard to ensure that the behavior of devices is also consistent. Standardization will certainly make life easier for the end user, if the devices all behave in, essentially, the same way. The introduction of FDI should remove the configuration inconsistencies that occur in all communication protocols today," continued Lattimer. "The primary goal for FDI is to ensure good consistency across all host vendors, for any given protocol and it should make device integration easier."

He concluded by saying: "Emerson recognizes diagnostics capabilities as a valuable feature for field devices and we are always innovating in this area, particularly around instrumentation. Delta V already includes NE 107 type functionality and our HART devices have had NE107 functionality for several years in the host system. The next step is to move this functionality down to the device to offer higher functioning systems, even when NE107 capability is not built into the host system."

Vendors will always want to make 'individual' products, but it would seem that recognition is now growing in the vendor community that the end-user customer wants their devices to be simpler. The introduction of standards appears to be helping, but this is a sensitive area for vendors who will always want to 'innovate' and differentiate themselves with ever more distinctive features and functions.

Regarding Mr. Pelz's three wishes, it appears that there are options and solutions that are available today that address the simplified and unified device integration request. FDI will standardize and unify device and host integration and is supported by all of the major field communications organizations.

Regarding the challenge to have reduced device complexity for basic functions, in addition to what was mentioned above, HART has Universal and Common Practice Commands that provide the majority of the configuration parameters needed to commission a device. HART also defines device families (like pressure, temperature, level, etc.) that identify common parameters for devices and standardizes the basic functions for each different type of measurement reducing the complexity for the parameterization of basic functions.

Lastly, the simplified or standardized condensed device diagnostics as outlined in NE107 is currently available in several HART-enabled applications and more implementations are expected in the future. HART Communication is indeed making life easier!

Suzanne Gill is editor of Control Engineering Europe.

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