The ‘next-generation’ handheld communicator

13 July 2009

The 475 Field Communicator is the latest version of Emerson Process Management’s line of handheld instruments, which include the previous 275 and 375 models. The new version adds a full-colour graphical user interface, Bluetooth® communication, advanced field diagnostics, and extended battery life.

Emerson 475 with colour touchscreen
Emerson 475 with colour touchscreen

Emerson Process Management’s 475 Field Communicator extends beyond device configuration functionality to provide advanced device diagnostic and troubleshooting capabilities in the field and on the bench. The intrinsically safe 475 Field Communicator supports all HART® (versions 5, 6, and 7), WirelessHART™, and Foundation™ fieldbus devices.

The lithium-ion power module that comes standard more than doubles the life of a typical NiMH battery. The specifications list 20 hours of continuous use, 40 hours of typical use, and 80 hours in standby mode.

The 1/4 VGA (320 x 240 pixels) touch screen display uses ‘transflective’ technology, which means it is easier to read in direct sunlight. For dim light, it has a multi-level backlight. The touch screen itself, at 3.5 inches (8.9 cm) is larger than most PDAs and pocket PCs. It uses an 80 MHz Hitachi microprocessor with 32 MB of RAM, 32 MB of internal flash memory, and 1 GB on a system card.

The Windows CE-based 475 uses EDDL technology to read data from field devices. The technology allows charts, graphs, gauges, and product images to be displayed. The weight (total: 0.75 kg with battery) is evenly distributed for one-hand operation in the field.

Easy upgrade
Unlike some of the older models, the 475 doesn’t need to be sent in to a service centre for upgrading, it can all be done via an Internet connection. The options is called ‘Easy Upgrade.’ It allows the user to download new device drivers, functionality, or licenses directly to the Communicator.

This is important, says Emerson, because new HART and Foundation Fieldbus devices, as well as functional updates to existing devices, are introduced continually by the device vendors. The Easy Upgrade option allows users to keep up-to-date on all the required Device Descriptions (DDs). There are over 1,100 different HART and FF devices available from more than 100 manufacturers, and the 475 works with all of them.

With the Easy Upgrade comes another option called Online Licensing that allows users to download a license to add Foundation Fieldbus to the handheld communicator.

More than a configuration tool
Craig Llewellyn, president of Emerson’s Asset Optimization division, says the 475 Field Communicator “is much more than a configuration tool.”

“The 475 enables diagnosis and troubleshooting in the field so as to streamline daily maintenance activities. The latest version of the Easy Upgrade capability provides an interface for users to quickly and easily update their communicator on site via the Internet. Through Bluetooth communication, users can update their 475 Field Communicator with the latest Device Descriptions for their field devices,” he says.

A further advance is the full-colour LCD display that provides an intuitive graphical interface to support trend charts, gauges, and graphics available in enhanced Device Descriptions. The colour display aids troubleshooting through high-contrast images. Users can also store up to 1,000 device configurations in the 475 Field Communicator or transmit them wirelessly between the communicator and a PC for printing and storage.

“The ability to quickly perform configurations and view advanced diagnostics in the field from a handheld reinforces Emerson’s commitment to delivering innovative field communicator technology,” said Mr. Llewellyn.

“The 475 Field Communicator enables significant productivity improvements for maintenance and reliability experts. The tight integration between Emerson’s AMS® Suite predictive maintenance software and the 475 allows users to manage their field device assets consistently and efficiently.”

The instrument can be used to configure FF devices. It can be used to perform diagnostics, such as monitoring the DC voltage and average noise, which can assist in start up and troubleshooting operations in fieldbus segments. It can also detect power supply problems by monitoring the low frequency noise on a segment. By diagnosing the communications signal level, it can locate incorrect terminations and faulty devices. In HART systems, the communicator allows users to verify whether the DC voltage in the loop is correct.

The device is also intrinsically safe, and all the available hazardous location approvals are provided in a single model. Even the power module is approved for installation in hazardous areas.

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