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Fieldbus Foundation: Better Device Descriptions, Device Coupler Test Spec, board member

08 August 2008

Fieldbus Foundation has streamlined fieldbus development for device and system suppliers by enhancing its Device Descriptions (DD). In separate announcements, the organisation released the final Device Coupler Test Specification and named a DuPont executive to its board.

Fieldbus announcements
Fieldbus announcements

Latest updates to the FOUNDATION fieldbus DD tools and specifications are compliant with IEC 61804 and ISA104 Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) profile, include enhanced versions of DD Services (Version 5.1.0), DD Integrated Development Environment (Version 1.1.0), Device Description Language Interoperability Specification (FF-901), Device Description Language Specification (FF-900) and DD Library (Version 3.2).

The Fieldbus Foundation's manager of fieldbus products, Stephen Mitschke, commented, ‘The updated DD solutions build upon the robust functionality of the previous DD 5.0 release, and are intended to help device developers, system suppliers and end users advance the performance of their FOUNDATION fieldbus products.’

With Unicode support, the profile gives device and system suppliers with an expanded ability to write and visualise DDs using local languages, including Asian languages. The enhancements also allow developers to build device-level menus, enabling visualisation of multiple blocks and significantly improving the device integration experience. In addition, support for new parameter attributes will ensure an enhanced user interface for accessing devices.

Mitschke added that support for device-level menus will become mandatory as part of the Fieldbus Foundation's host profile test and registration program. Like the current device registration process, host registration will strengthen fieldbus interoperability and system integration. Hosts successfully completing registration testing will be authorised to bear the foundation's official product registration symbol.

DD technical documents (FF-900 and FF-901) describe the new enhancements and are included in the FOUNDATION fieldbus technical specification. These documents are available for download on Fieldbus Forums (forums.fieldbus.org) to all foundation members with a specification maintenance agreement.

The organisation says the new resource makes it easier for host applications to access FOUNDATION device information and work with DDs more efficiently. Operating much like a query server for a database management system, DD Services frees hosts from the burden of decoding DD binary files. The host application constructs a request to access specific information about a device, and DD Services extracts the information from the DD binary file. The host application is relieved of having to know the format of the DD binary file, and then searching the file for the information it needs, the group says.

DD Services Version 5.1.0 delivers an integrated view of fieldbus devices through DD Menus. The new release is backward compatible with all existing DD implementations, but still offers new features required for device registration such as support for device-level menus and Unicode.

Final Device Coupler Test Specification enables greater robustness in FOUNDATION fieldbus systems: The final specification (FF-846 FS 1.0) is designed for coupler manufacturers to perform a standard set of tests against their implementation. Test cases were developed by a team of volunteers comprised of current members of the foundation that manufacture coupler products, as well as end users interested in the availability of registered couplers.

The FOUNDATION Device Coupler Test Specification includes criteria from IEC 61158-2:2003 and additional functional tests such as input impedance, short-circuit reaction time, and bus voltage consumption.

Mitschke said, ‘The foundation is one of the only automation industry organisations with a host and device registration program requiring mandatory testing of critical elements of its technology. This effort now encompasses FOUNDATION fieldbus host systems and field devices, as well as physical layer components, such as power supplies and device couplers.’ He continued, ‘The Fieldbus Foundation is committed to developing more test processes for devices and components. The device coupler specification builds upon the existing power supply specification and registration procedure, and is intended to provide even greater robustness in FOUNDATION fieldbus systems. The resulting registered products will be tested to perform optimally with registered power supplies and conditioners, as well as registered H1 cable.’

Mitschke indicated that the scope of the device coupler test specification includes wiring blocks and couplers that may support short circuit protection. He noted that the foundation has an active working group developing Phase Two of the test specification, to be released during 2009, that supports couplers with electrical isolation.

Fieldbus Foundation members can get a copy on Fieldbus Forums under ‘Member Forums - New Specification Forum.’

Joining the Fieldbus Foundation board of directors is Dr. Farshad Amir, technology manager of instrument and control systems for DuPont Engineering. Amir replaces Jim Porter, who is retiring from DuPont, in this key automation industry post.

In addition to chairman John Berra of Emerson Process Management, Fieldbus Foundation board members now include: Kenneth Deken, Rockwell Automation; David Eisner, Honeywell; Motofumi Matsumura, Fuji; Satoru Kurosu, Yokogawa; Farshad Amir, DuPont; Dr. Gunther Kegel, Pepperl+Fuchs; Timm Madden, ExxonMobil; Mark Taft, ABB; Hirozume Sone, Yamatake Corporation; John Eva, Invensys; Hans-Georg Kumpfmueller, Siemens AG; and Fred Cohn, Schneider Electric.

Edited by Mark T. Hoske, editor in chief


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