As more intelligent sensors, smart instruments, and other connected devices make their way into the field, collecting and synthesizing the large amount of data they produce can become a challenge. Although these devices have the onboard capacity to extract a broad array of data, making it actionable can be complex. And with manufacturers of all sizes using devices and software from various vendors, end users are often forced to navigate an unwieldly patchwork environment wherein some data types are supported by their systems and others are not.
To solve this problem, industry organizations including the FieldComm Group, FDT Group, Profibus and Profinet International, and the OPC Foundation have jointly developed the Field Device Integration (FDI) standard with support from several major technology vendors, such as ABB, Emerson Process Management, Endress+Hauser, Honeywell, Schneider, Siemens, and Yokogawa.
Recently, Emerson reported that its AMS Device Manager, which provides real-time online access to intelligent instruments, became the first software of its kind to be fully registered under the new FDI standard.
By using FDI technology, the newest release of AMS Device Manager allows end users to forego the use of Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) and Field Device Tool/Device Type Manager (FDT/DTM), which are currently the most common technologies for configuring and installing devices. This will simplify the process of setting up new field devices, allowing companies to save time and effort, Emerson said.
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The ability to use the FDI standard requires two criteria to be met. First, the host systems or software packages receiving data from field devices must support FDI. Secondly, the field devices themselves must have onboard support for FDI packages.
To meet the first criteria, software and host systems must have:
- The EDD Engine, which is a multiprotocol EDDL (electronic device description language) interpreter;
- The UI Engine, which provides rendering and hosting services for instrumentation user interfaces; and
- A PA-DIM server, which enables access to a standardized set of device information.
The FieldComm Group supplies these components along with training workshops to automation suppliers to accelerate the development of FDI-compatible software and host systems.
According to Emerson, AMS Device Manager’s compatibility with the FDI standard is a further step in the company’s ongoing efforts to reduce the time and effort spent installing and configuring the field devices plants rely on to achieve their digital transformation goals.
“FDI integration technology takes the best features of EDDL and FDT/DTM and combines them into a single common standard, making it far easier to select, install, configure, and support new devices,” said Erik Lindhjem, vice president of Emerson’s Reliability Solutions business.