FDT Group Announces Newly Integrated Networks

April 15, 2014
The FDT machine and device communications standard now supports more than 18 industry protocols including ISA-100 Wireless. The number of certified devices is also on the rise.

The FDT Group has publically release several new and updated communications annexes for the FDT machine and device communications standard. Communication annexes allow existing FDT installations to support new and updated communication protocols without the need to re-engineer or re-release the standard or tools. 

The FDT Group AISBL, an international non-profit corporation, seeks to provide an open and non-proprietary interface for the integration of field devices with engineering, automation and asset management systems. A video on the group’s website explains the technology and lists the vendors who are making certified products. The following annexes also are immediately available on the group’s public website:

  • ISA100.a Annex  V1.0  (for FDT 1.2.1)
  • IO-Link Annex  V1.1  (for FDT 1.2.1)
  • Profibus Annex V1.1 (for FDT2)
  • Modbus Annex V1.0  (for FDT2)

As part of this ongoing process, the FDT Group also has begun a membership review, the precursor to a public release, of the  additional communication annexes:

  • Foundation Fieldbus V1.0 (for FDT2)
  • Profinet V1.0 (for FDT2)  

The package of four newly available annexes includes the ISA-100 Wireless standard—the first fully wireless communications standard incorporated in the FDT standard. Andre Ristaino, managing director of the ISA-100 Wireless Standards Compliance Institute, said, “It was a pleasure for our technical experts to work with those from the FDT organization. The public release of the FDT annex makes the most popular integration platform of FDT available to support the great capabilities of ISA-100 Wireless.” 

The FDT Group regularly works with various network standards associations and other technical experts around the world to ensure that the FDT standard supports end users with all of the popular networks and related features. The group also reports that FDT product certifications have risen sharply for the first quarter of 2014.

Manufacturers have submitted products to independent test laboratories to confirm compliance with the FDT standard, and have subsequently requested in the first quarter of 2014 that certificates for more than 85 devices be issued, according to Katrien Peeters, manager of the FDT Certification Office. This latest data follows a very busy certification year in 2013.

“The end-user community has driven the demand for FDT certification," reports Peeters. “We are pleased that the manufacturers have responded to this marketplace requirement by bring certified DTMs to the market more quickly than ever before.”

Later this year, Peeters said the group will introduce a new online certified product catalog to help end users find certified products more quickly. “Cryptographically signed digital certificates will also be available, allowing FDT applications to programmatically validate that a DTM has been certified,” Peeters said.

Significant advances in standardization of machine and device communications come with collaboration among groups. FDT Group is part of FDI, a field device integration group formed by five major automation foundations: FDT Group, Fieldbus FoundationHART Communications Foundation, OPC Foundation, and Profibus & Profinet International. Dave Greenfield earlier reported on Kuka Robotics’ use of FDT technology to address complex robot bus scenarios across multiple gateways.

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