Bridging FDT and FDI Integration of the Future FDI Device Packages into FDT Based Systems

| Editor: Gabriele Ilg

FDT (Field Device Tool) is an established standard for device integration in both process as well as factory automation. For process automation the unification of FDT and EDDL (Electronic Device Description Language) to FDI (Field Device Integration) is under development. This article explains the concepts of FDT and FDI and presents a bridging solution.

Fig. 1: FDI Device Package (Pictures: Endress+Hauser)
Fig. 1: FDI Device Package (Pictures: Endress+Hauser)

Device integration has been gaining importance in automated industrial plants for several years. This is because intelligent field devices are able to provide an ever increasing number of important information and functions in addition to standard process values. User associations such as Namur (International user association of automation technology in process industries) and WIB (International Instrument Users Association) are working intensively on the topic of device integration in their publications, workshops and tests. Their objective can be summarized in one sentence: “Our aim is to be able to efficiently and reliably operate, parameterize and manage the data of devices from different manufacturers with a standardized tool.” [1] The most commonly discussed requirements include security of investment, life cycle and version management, unrestricted interoperability and operating convenience.

Device integration today — EDDL and FDT

Two device integration standards are in use today — EDDL and FDT. EDDL (Electronic Device Description Language) defines a text-based description language for devices [2]. Device descriptions known as EDDs (Electronic Device Descriptions) are interpreted within host systems. Since EDDL comes from the field of process automation, the language is specified for the communication protocols relevant to this field — Hart, Profibus, and Foundation fieldbus. Due to the different profiles of the language for the three protocols and different interpreters in the host systems, many different EDDs are required for one device [3].