FDT "Enabling Technology"

It Is Getting Hard to Differentiate the Cell Phones From Our Computers!

By Garry Cusick, MACTek Corporation, a FDT member company

For those of us who are showing signs of gray, it is easy to imagine life without a remote for the TV, cell phones, computers and Facebook because we lived it! But what did we do when we got our first computer, cell phone, etc.?

As technology advanced, the computer moved from a device to do spreadsheets and word processing to an integral part of our business and personal lives. Now we use them to communicate via email, post on our favorite social networks, shop, play music and even control many areas of an automated plant! Similarly, when cell phones first were released, we used them exactly the way we used our home or office phone…just to make and receive phone calls. Now it is getting hard to differentiate the cell phones from our computers!

As technology changes, computers, cell phones, cars and, yes, process automation equipment have become smarter, but I wonder how many of you still only use your cell phone to make and receive calls when they can do much more. With a device that easily fits in my pocket, I can send and receive email, navigate to my destination, surf the Web, listen to music and, yes, make and receive phone calls.

How about the devices in your plant? Smart instrumentation has been around for nearly 20 years, but are you taking advantage of its "smarts"? What "enabling technology" has evolved to make configuring, commissioning and maintaining the smart instrumentation in your facility as easy as making a call from your cell phone? FDT Technology!

FDT Technology is readily available (it may already be installed in your facility) and allows users to stop relying on one vendor to provide the soup-to-nuts solution. Instead, it allows the engineer to mix and match instrumentation and systems to purchase a best-in-class solution—not just the devices that work better with your host system; but instead, the devices that provide you the best value. The big difference with FDT technology is the device manufacturer controls the features within a driver called a DTM (Device Type Manager), that support the device regardless of the frame application used.

DTMs enable transparent data access, which allows easy configuration of simple and complex devices, commissioning without trips to the field, and maintenance of the devices with sophisticated diagnostic tools. Because of a style guide, FDT creates an ease of use atmosphere for users that minimizes training, as DTMs will operate using a similar menu and visualization scheme with any host or protocol used. All products that conform to the FDT Style Guide provides peace of mind…no other technology can swing this!

With international recognition as an IEC standard (62453) and as an American ISA standard (ISA103), products are certified confirming conformance to specification providing investment protection for an automated facility. This results in reliable and interoperable products to last over the lifecycle of your plant, allowing improved visualization with the ability to utilize more of your installed asset capabilities. With support from all major system manufacturers and device suppliers in the industry, FDT Technology is globally recognized and used in some of the largest installations worldwide! To see all the member companies, follow this link www.fdtgroup.org/members-directory.

Well, if you have a "smart" phone, you probably have visited the 'App Store' and downloaded an application that in some way may have made your phone a little more useful. So next time, we will discuss how applications define the real value of FDT Technology with an article titled FDT - There’s an App for your Smart Instrumentation.