Are fieldbuses really dead? Quite possible, but they are still twitching. A modernized approach to device management in a bus structure throughout all areas of an industrial plant is FDI - Field Device Integration. The industry alliance behind it is working on IEC standardization, and this week's Achema trade show is a step on the way.
Conformance testing is an important requirement for achieving interoperability and to ensure that devices meet the specifications in the standard. FDI Cooperation is comprised of various technology foundations from the world of process automation, including FDT Group, Fieldbus Foundation, HART Communication Foundation, OPC Foundation, and PROFIBUS & PROFINET International. They have developed a single common solution for Field Device Integration (FDI). These foundations have combined their efforts to form a joint company named FDI Cooperation, LLC.
It has been determined that conformance testing for FDI will be performed as an add-on to existing product conformance tests at Fieldbus Foundation, HART Communication Foundation and PROFIBUS & PROFINET International for the respective protocols. While the foundations will do the testing, FDI develops a conformance testing concept in addition to FDI Device Package conformance test tools, FDI Host Conformance test procedures, use cases, and requirements.
A comprehensive Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is necessary to ensure that products conforming to the FDI specification can be developed effectively and consistently. Thus, it will be also an important aspect of conformance testing. The FDI IDE supports device vendors that are developing FDI Packages across fieldbus protocols. It consists of an EDD Editor, which converts EDD into the common encoded file format and combines it with the User Interface Plugin to create an FDI Package. Run time debugging features allow extensive testing. FDI continues to make progress with the IDE, with a tentative release date for the end of 2013. The IDE will be marketed through the five foundations.
FDI technology was successfully demonstrated at Hanover Fair in April of 2012 in the Field Communication Lounge. The live FDI demo is also on display at this week’s ACHEMA exhibition in the Field Communication Lounge, hall 11 Via, B29; Mezzanine Level. A panel discussion titled »FDI - The Common Solution to Device Management?« will take place at the forum »Automation Dialogue« – a Discussion Panel organized by ARC, NAMUR and ZVEI, on Friday, June 22nd at 10.30 am. Participants in the panel represent end users and automation suppliers.