All-Digital Fieldbus Technology to Simplify Device Replacement

April 9, 2014
The Fieldbus Foundation Usability Initiative, announced this week at Hannover Messe 2014, is focused on making it easier to get the process back up and running after those 3 a.m. wake-up calls.

The phone rings at 3 a.m., and you wake up from a deep sleep to hear that production is down and replacement parts are needed. It’s your job to get the process back online and quickly and effectively as possible. This scenario has Fieldbus Foundation technical teams working on how Foundation technology can best meet that need, making device replacement quicker and easier.

At Hannover Messe 2014 this week in Germany, the Fieldbus Foundation revealed a new initiative to do just that. As part of the Fieldbus Foundation Usability Initiative, new features to the fieldbus technical specifications will improve the usability of Foundation technology, with the ultimate goal of making the digital fieldbus automation experience easier than conventional analog control systems.

Much like 4-20 mA analog devices are essentially process variable (PV) interchangeable, the initiative aims to offer users direct access to the PV in Foundation devices and reduce any potential complexities in device replacement. A simple device setup that has no need for device description (DD) files will allow the easy replacement of one device with an alternative device—not even from the same vendor—to ensure an efficient and fully flexible device replacement in all planned and unplanned situations.

Once complete, the PV interchangeability development will be incorporated into an upgrade of the Foundation H1 Interoperability Test Kit – ITK 7.

“As an end user-driven organization, we are listening to our fieldbus user community, suppliers and engineering partners, and employing their feedback in a continuous improvement process to make Foundation technology easier to use in a wide range of applications,” said Stephen Mitschke, director-fieldbus products for the foundation. “The enhanced usability features in our updated technical specification will make it easier for both automation suppliers and end users to realize the full value of Foundation technology.”

The PV interchangeability is the next step in the foundation’s goal of improved interoperable device management, making Foundation H1 easier to use than conventional 4-20 mA. Other recent updates of the Foundation specification include additional advanced support for fieldbus device replacement and backwards compatibility, DD templates, field diagnostics and alarm/alert integration. The ability to use these enhanced features is included in the foundation’s new Host Profile C, released in November 2013.

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