Off Line Fieldbus Network Analysis Tools
The original network analysis tool was the National Instruments Bus Monitor, developed at approximately the same time as Foundation Fieldbus was being introduced. This tool was designed to monitor the data traffic on fieldbus networks. It was not until Relcom introduced the FBT-3 that a physical layer troubleshooting tool specific for Fieldbus was available. Prior to the FBT-3 the only options were multimeter and oscilloscope, with no way of knowing which devices were communicating when a signal trace went by.
Since then a number of analytical tools have entered the market, both offline and on-line, with Relcom still leading the way with the number of offline tools available. Though still available the FBT-3 has now been upgraded to the FBT-6 with more measurements and the ability to store reports for uploading and storage. Relcom has also continued to develop new products to assist with commissioning and maintenance. The newest offering in this family is the FBT-9, http://www.relcominc.com/fieldbus/fbt-9.htm that establishes communications among Foundation Fieldbus devices without a DCS allowing early checkout of wiring and devices for example the skid before it leaves the assembly yard or in the plant prior to connection to the DCS. The unique feature of the present version of the FBT-9 is that it does not change the address of any of the devices that connect during the testing. As a result if you have devices with temporary addresses they will continue to have the same temporary address when they are disconnected, even if you have more devices than the 4 available temporary addresses.
Pepperl+Fuchs offer their on-line analysis tool (they were the first to offer an on-line tool) as a USB connected version, the DM-AM.
There was a recent discussion on the topic of analytical tools on LinkedIn that can be found at http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Is-there-user-friendly-Bus-128011.S.72929810?qid=0b1b430f-f0ac-45c1-bf17-c27c43473a00&goback=.gna_128011.
Further to the above LinkedIn discussion, if you have any comments on what you would like to see in the form of an analytical tool please comment below.
We will discuss on-line network analyzers in a future column.