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Field Device Integration (FDI) The FDI Precursor – First Units Enter the World of field Device Integration

Author / Editor: Sabine Mühlenkamp / Dr. Jörg Kempf

After approval of the FDI specification the market waits for the corresponding products. ABB has risked coming out early and has presented the first version of the Field Information Manager (FIM) at the previous Achema trade show. The test laboratory of Bilfinger Maintenance is now gathering the initial experiences with that.

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(Picture: © freshidea - Fotolia)

The relief was clearly discernible, after the end of the development work for Field Device Integration = FDI was announced at Achema. At the same time, all the participants were also happy that it had actually been possible to link the best of text- (DD, EDDL, etc.) and graphic-based (FDT/DTM) device integration with each other. Now remains the major task of bringing the FDI technology into practice, and this means that the manufacturers must enter the market with the corresponding products. But, vendors are also prompted to integrate the technology in the systems as soon as possible.

ABB has brought the first FDI-Tool into the market in the form of the Field Information Manager (FIM). “The FIM tool generated an enormous amount of interest at Achema and is also downloaded a lot”, reports Marko Schlüter, Product Management Fieldbus at ABB. With the help of the tool, field devices can be connected, put into operation and configured many times faster.

Sven Seintsch of the test laboratory at Bilfinger Maintenance collected the initial practical experiences of that. His team had the tool under its wings for about four weeks before it was introduced into the market. While doing this, both simple measurement devices like pressure- and temperature sensors as well as flow meters were configured with the tool. The oldest devices were more than ten years old and the most recent were brand new.

“Really Plug & Play”

The initial result by Seintsch is exceptionally positive: “That was really Plug & Play. Only a few clicks are required to make the field device functional”. The mode of operation, according to what he states, cannot be compared with the earlier ones, as the search for the correct EDD or the correct DTM could last long. As many users have already experienced, the installation of these type of management tools, connection of devices and online access frequently lasts between 15 and 30 minutes. The FIM takes three minutes. “The tool finds the field device immediately and it can be processed immediately”, says Seintsch.

So far, FIM contains FDI Device Packages for ABB devices. Any desired Hart device’s EDD can be loaded into the tool. If a device-specific EDD or Device Package is not available for a special device, ABB provides a generic Hart Device Package that can do basic configuration of all Hart devices. The handling also convinced Seintsch, as the tool is very fast and the device can be set up in the shortest time.

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