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FOUNDATION usability enhancements – technical specifications launched

17 December 2013

The Fieldbus Foundation has launched the latest updates to the FOUNDATION fieldbus technical specifications, designed to enhance the usability of FOUNDATION technology, with the goal of making the digital fieldbus automation experience easier than conventional analogue control systems.

The updated version of the FOUNDATION specification includes additional advanced support for fieldbus device replacement and backwards compatibility, Device Description (DD) templates, field diagnostics and alarm/alert integration. The ability to utilise these enhanced features is included in the foundation’s new Host Profile C, which will be available for registration in early 2014.

Stephen Mitschke, Fieldbus Foundation director-Fieldbus Products, said: “The usability features in our updated technical specification will make it easier for both automation suppliers and end users to realise the full value of FOUNDATION technology. They are aimed at simplifying fieldbus implementation, operation and maintenance.

“As an end user-driven organisation, we are listening to our fieldbus user community, suppliers and engineering partners, and employing their feedback in a continuous improvement process to make FOUNDATION technology easier to use in a wide range of applications.”.

The latest features in the technical specification are said to enable host and device suppliers to offer backwards compatibility to their users in order to further simplify device replacement. The incorporation of DD templates also provides an interoperable way for instrumentation companies to offer a variety of application settings for devices. Suppliers can embed the templates in their DDs from the factory floor, making it quicker and easier for end users to access a correct offline configuration. 

With the new device diagnostics alarm management feature, hosts tested under Host Profile C must integrate field diagnostics into alarm management systems, rather than just provide access to the information in a device view.

Application time support is also mandatory under Host Profile C. This feature requires a time stamp capability in the host system, which will start on an actual calendar date and time. Additionally, a new standard dictionary update feature requires that fieldbus end users have the ability to install a new dictionary update on their host system to support the latest DDs. This will further improve the simplicity of device replacement.

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