FDT looking bright for factory automation

11 March 2009

Schneider Electric’s Manfred Brill, chairman of FDT’s factory automation committee, described the progress FDT is making in the factory automation sector. The biggest news was that twelve new companies, including Mitsubishi Electric, have joined the organisation in the past year.

Manfred Brill, Schneider Electric
Manfred Brill, Schneider Electric

On the technical side, Mr. Brill said that because there were many more fieldbuses in factory automation than in process automation, it was necessary to develop ‘annexes’ to accommodate them. An annex describes the fieldbus specific devices in an XML format which is exchanged by FDT interfaces. So far, annexes have been developed for Interbus, IO Link, Modbus, Profibus, Profinet, and CIP. The committee is working on SERCOS, CANopen—and now that Mitsubishi is part of the organisation—CC Link.

A new technical project group started in July 2008 called ‘PG PLC Tool Interface.’ The intention of this group is to provide the end user with complete independence from the specific fieldbus installed. Members are Hilscher, HMS, KW Software, M&M Software, Phoenix Contact, Omron, Schneider Electric, and 3S.

Mr. Brill listed the five main FDT goals for 2009 as 1. Achieve IEC standardisation by May 2009; 2. Complete the certification process with the release of frameINSPECTOR conformance test tool; 3. Fulfil NAMUR NE 105 requirements with further improvements to the style guide and enhanced rules for versioning and interoperability of FDT components; 4. Pursue factory automation programs such as the PG PLC Tool Interface and annexes for fieldbus systems; and 5. Pursue the FDT evolution program, including FDI (FDI is the amalgamation of FDT and EDDL).

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