Mining Data From Instrumentation

One of the cool, and often overlooked, benefits derived from digital fieldbus growth and implementation is found within the instrumentation—data.

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Sensors and instruments could always feed back some sort of process variable signal, but there remained much more that engineering, operations and maintenance would like to know. By adding digital capability to analog devices, a little text file could link to configuration software providing device and diagnostic information.

No technical advance is developed without controversy, it seems, and the configuration and display of this additional information was not an exception to the rule. Devices were embedded with a Device Description (DD), and this tied into asset management and other software through Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) and the subsequent Enhanced EDDL. Some companies saw shortcomings in this system and developed what was either a competing or complementary technology—Field Device Tool with Device Type Manager (FDT/DTM).

The good news is that companies—and their customers—realized that having two disparate technologies doing essentially the same task was not optimum. It appears that the efforts of the past few years are about to pay off with development of FDI, or Field Device Interface—an integration of the two. The payoff for practitioners lies in even easier access to the wealth of information about their plants, leading to improved production efficiencies.

Check out this new Web site in the Automation Network, www.optimizedautomation.com.

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