With the establishment of the uniform, standardized device integration technology Field Device Integration (FDI), leading manufacturers and associations are pulling together — in the interests of the users. Now the technology is getting ready to conquer the practise. The close alliance between Profibus & Profinet International (PI) and FieldComm Group is intended to speed up the market launch once again.
FDI solves the problem of having to integrate field devices into a variety of networks, operating systems and control systems in the process industry. Leading associations and manufacturers of the automation industry have developed the technology together. The goal: a consistent simplification of device integration. The edge terms: a maximum manufacturer neutrality as well as the use of proven and tested elements of the existing technologies.
Why Field Device Integration is the future … Read the statements of automation experts in our gallery:
FDI combines the advantages of the previous device integration technologies FDT (Field Device Tool) and EDDL (Electronic Device Description Language) into a single scalable solution. The new technology can handle a wide range of tasks throughout the entire life cycle. This applies to both simple and complex devices, including configuration, commissioning, diagnostics, and calibration, regardless of the underlying device protocols.
After completion of the work in the FDI Cooperation, the FDI technology should become established as quickly as possible in the plants of the process industry. Key elements for this are tools and components as well as the joint definition of test, certification and registration rules.
This is why PI and the FieldComm Group have committed themselves to a joint further development and maintenance. The project is the best proof of a trustworthy and successful cooperation between users, manufacturers and user organizations. The majority of the major host system suppliers and equipment manufacturers has acquired licenses for FDI development kits and will support the integration technology worldwide.
The development environment (IDE — Integrated Development Environment) facilitates the change of technology for the device manufacturers. It allows efficient development, comprehensive testing and rapid generation of FDI device packages, as well as a time and cost-saving transfer of existing EDDs (Electronic Device Description) into an FDI device package. Thus, device manufacturers can create corresponding packages for Profibus, Profinet, Foundation Fieldbus and Hart devices by standardized processes. A further important result is the definition of an architecture for so-called FDI host components, which enables a similar processing of the device integration packages in different hosts.
Project as a Lighthouse
The development of technology is setting a signal. Not only because FDI will considerably facilitate device integration in the future, but also because FDI is the result of a trustworthy and intensive work of manufacturers and organizations for industrial communication — motivated by the strong user interest in a uniform and practical integration technology for process automation.
* The author works as a freelance, specialised journalist.