Intelligent Device Communications Field Device Integration for the Future

Editor: Gabriele Ilg

Field Comm Group, formed in January 2015, combines the Hart Communication Foundation with the Fieldbus Foundation, forming the singular industry foundation for intelligent device communication. Field Comm’s exhibit at Achema visually demonstrates the organization’s goal – to bring industry-wide consistency to manufacturers and users of field instrumentation devices.

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Field Comm Group's integration brings industry-wide consistency for manufacturers and users
Field Comm Group's integration brings industry-wide consistency for manufacturers and users
(Picture: Page Bailey)

Many companies’ devices are included in the exhibit’s demonstrations, with a combination of Hart and Fieldbus-based host systems run by Siemens and Honeywell, respectively. This effectively shows the universality that users are given with this collaboration. Field Comm Group’s marketing and business development manager Talon Petty emphasizes that while the protocols are now housed under a single foundation, the technologies are not changing or becoming obsolete.

“Now that Hart and Fieldbus are together, existing technologies will continue to be supported and enhanced, and operations will continue as normal,” says Petty. Device end-users will see longterm benefits in the future, says Petty, but those benefiting immediately are the instrumentation manufacturers. Common synergies, such as universal registration procedures, will decrease efforts and costs.

Field-device integration (FDI) brings further benefits to manufacturers. Released in spring 2015, the FDI development-tools interface allows manufacturers to build, create and execute FDI commands as they develop and register their products. With the new FDI tools, work processes that previously required multiple file downloads are now bundled so that only one file is required. For instruments requiring more complex functions or algorithms, there is a user-interface plug-in that allows users to search for errors and see the information in a more descriptive manner.

Products registered with the new FDI development-tools package will be commercially available in around two years, according to Field Comm Group. With its Field Instrumentation Manager software, ABB is the first host company to use the new FDI technology. The program, which is designed specifically for use on touchscreen tablets, features simplified navigation and is fully customizable.