By Garry Cusick, Solutions Manager; FDT Group
FDT Technology is charting the course for automation system owners to realize the benefits of implementing best-in-class devices for control and monitoring applications. The FDT Group is an open, independent, not-for-profit association dedicated to establishing the FDT Technology as an international standard with broad acceptance in the automation industry. What is FDT Technology? Using the game of golf, here is an interesting analogy with a golf club representing the control system and a golf ball representing the devices connected to that system. A golfer might purchase golf balls based on preference for price, brand, or color. Maybe it is desirable to use a ball found in the lake. Whatever golf ball is used, there is an expectation each and every ball will work as designed with every brand and style of golf clubs. Maybe one operator of the clubs can get better performance than another operator, but there should not be anything inherent in the clubs that limits or amplifies performance of one golf ball as compared to another golf ball.
FDT Technology provides the same freedom of choice as experienced in the selection of golf equipment to process automation equipment. With the pressure to optimize production, many companies have elected to install intelligent devices using HART, FOUNDATION fieldbus, ProfiBus, DeviceNet or other diagnostic rich protocols. With the promise of better device asset management, host system companies developed applications to monitor intelligent devices. The promise of enhanced device diagnostics and predictive maintenance was delivered. However, the practice of purchasing devices and host from the same supplier was sometimes encouraged to achieve optimal benefits. When facing pressures to increase plant performance for financial, environmental or safety reasons, this practice limited the options for deployment of smart device technology.
But what about the golf ball and being able to purchase best-in-class products? This is where FDT Technology is changing the playing field. Think of FDT Technology as including an asset management application that was developed by the device manufacturer. The only need of the application is a host that provides the framework to open it. With this approach, open access to products that meet the requirement for best in class without consideration for the relationship between the host system supplier and the device supplier is achieved. It is the device manufacturer who is best suited to expose the wealth of information contained within the device to the automation system. This is exactly where the responsibility is placed with FDT Technology. With complete capabilities exposed, the device can be managed from a variety of host systems. Similarly, the host system is able to efficiently manage a wide variety of devices with the full intelligence of the device available for use. With devices and automation systems able to integrate freely, a best in class automation system is easy to swing.
With FDT Technology, supplier independence, protocol independence and host independence is achieved. So when it comes to maximizing investments in intelligent field measurement and control devices, be sure to ask for the technology that will help you get a hole in one!