FDI - Integration Now more than a dream
There is new hope for End Users that a uniform interface to the rich information such as diagnostics and related material in smart instruments may soon be available. This is because a number of supplier companies have joined the FDI cooperation project that initially consisted of the major technology trade organizations, FDT Group, Fieldbus Foundation, HART Communication Foundation, OPC Foundation and PROFIBUS Nutzerorganisation. Control equipment supplier companies, ABB, Emerson, Endress+Hauser, Honeywell, Invensys, Siemens, and Yokogawa have now agreed to participate to support FDI solutions in their systems and products, and most importantly will provide valuable resources for the completion of this project.big incentive for the suppliers is that having a single common interface simplifies their development and support requirements while for End Users this will mean not only a single interface to all the information in their devices and hence one less tool to learn but also an end to another potential "fieldbus war" of FDT versus e-EDDL (we already have that potential battle brewing again in wireless.)
The FDI project was kicked off at 2007 Hannover fair and the final FDI specification is now scheduled for release for mid 2010. The scope of the enlarged FDI Cooperation is to cover common design and test tools, plus common binary format and interpreter across the protocols of HART, FF and PROFIBUS.
The bold has been added by me for a reason. Despite being a single interface for the End User, there will be two options available. Basically the difference between a compiled and uncompiled program. Apparently there is some dissension in this new unified camp on how much flexibility should remain with the End User. One camp believes that ‘interpreting on the fly’ allows the User to access the latest version of the underlying DD and instrument information while also meaning that as long as the Manufacturer is in compliance with the new FDI specification your FDT interface tool/program will be able to read the data. The binary format camp will provide you the fully executable file, which in theory should provide a faster execution environment. Time will tell which group is right.
The other interesting item in this release is the Emerson is part of the team and now appears that they too will soon be supporting FDT like interfaces on their host system. The end of enhanced DD's perhaps? We can only hope that a single interface will result.