By David Huffman, ABB Inc., FDT Group Member Company
Visibility and simple presentation of diagnostic information is growing more important every day. We see the influence of developments in this area from the printers in our homes or offices to some of the latest "heads up" displays in our automobiles. So it should be no surprise that similar advances are being made for the control platforms and critical instrumentation in our manufacturing facilities. The FDT Group member companies, which include more than 70 end user and technology suppliers, have been taking advantage of this trend in manufacturing since 2003 with their support and implementation of IEC 62453, more commonly known as FDT Technology.
FDT Technology, as either a standalone software package or integrated directly into the multifunctional workplaces of your automation system, is the key to leveraging the use of device diagnostic information. After all, who knows best what information the end user will need to see? And, who is motivated to organize that information to make the end users experience with the device a successful one? The device supplier, of course! There are more than 1,300 individual devices in the marketplace today that offer Device Type Manager (DTM) solutions that work with any Frame Application. In the end, each DTM will be called to action in the Frame Application. Software providers take charge here ensuring a crisp practical presentation of device information and diagnostics. This makes the job of plant personnel much easier as all device information is directed to the desktop of facility engineers, management and maintenance operators, or any individual requiring this data.
The intuitive presentation of information is a key foundation of FDT Technology. With the view of the information controlled by the device DTM, the device supplier has the responsibility to make the interface as functional as possible. For example, consider a radar level transmitter DTM; tank geometry information can be performed with a graphical view that generally represents the actual vessel type / configuration instead of some generalized table of data. When viewed by a technician, the key data entries make sense because it looks similar to the actual field installation rather than a table of numbers.
But good technology is not enough--there needs to be a business purpose and benefit. The Frame Application brings the information to the user, rather than sending the user to the device for information. The key benefit is influencing the time it takes to make a diagnosis and arrive at a repair solution, should one actually be needed; with this last point being key. A Shell Global Solutions study on pressure transmitters from a few years ago, across a wide range of Shell facilities, indicated that about 66% of the time when a technician was sent to the field to perform a preventative maintenance or operator requested work order, there was nothing wrong with the transmitter. Using the Frame and graphical visualization of device DTMs allows diagnostic information to be delivered directly to the technician on operations or maintenance workplaces. This in turn allows the ability to perform diagnostic work in safer areas, making maintenance operations more efficient by minimizing wasted trips to the field, and plant operations more reliable as staff members are not touching functioning equipment.
In the event the diagnostics show a repair is required, the actual failure can also be diagnosed from the console environment allowing the technician to obtain the necessary parts or a replacement device prior to a single trip to the field. Because FDT Technology provides "open access" to the highest device diagnostics available, time saved by making only one trip contributes to reducing the overall Mean Time To Repair (MTTR), increases the overall availability of the devices and positively impacts the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) of the facility.
To understand the true value of FDT and its benefits to the end user, please download the Dow Chemical presentation on FDT Technology that illustrates the key benefits of FDT Technology. For more information on FDT Technology, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.