Field Device Manager Streamlines Instrument Tasks

Asset Management Software Manages, Unifies Instrumentation Maintenance

By Jim Montague

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Washing dishes, paying taxes and tying shoelaces may be eternal chores, but some longstanding instrumentation management tasks are no longer as stressful and time-consuming as they were before. This relief comes in the form of Invensys' year-old Field Device Manager (FDM) maintenance and asset management software, which integrates multiple process control devices and networks to help maintenance supervisors get many formerly manual tasks done automatically in their offices, instead of having to make so many field trips. FDM organizes maintenance and engineering workstations, DCSs, historians and other equipment, and can deliver input from instruments, controllers and other devices that communicate via several fieldbus protocols, including HART, Foundation fieldbus and Profibus.     

"Besides the pressure of dealing with multiple technologies, many maintenance supervisors are under a lot of pressure to replace their aging workforces, continue to manage the risks of working in the field, and reduce the costly impact of downtime," said Jamie Stapleton, asset management product manager at Invensys. "And, the true cost of downtime includes the cost of new parts, labor and overtime, and contract penalties. These expenses can add up to about $50,000 per hour for many facilities."

Stapleton reported that many companies are implementing better maintenance and asset management as part of their corporate social responsibility goals, but these efforts can also maximize profits by increasing asset uptime, longevity and utilization, and by reducing lifecycle costs and energy consumption. Stapleton and Rogier Van Dijk, Invensys asset management program manager, acquainted users with the company's Field Device Manager this week at the 2013 Invensys Foxboro & Triconex Global Client Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

"FDM is a software tool for instrument engineers and technicians to perform work on intelligent field devices directly from a workstation," said Stapleton. "They can configure, commission, maintain, repair or replace functions on field devices. Hit start, and FDM's predefined orders will carry them out. This can eliminate a lot of day-to-day activities, and drive down many traditional costs. In fact, with an estimated time savings of 20-30 minutes in configuring each of 1,000 digital valve controllers, and a conservative pay rate of $100 per hour for an instrument engineer, FDM can save $50,000 on such a project."

FDM accomplishes its tasks and achieves faster time to production with two primary features:

  • Intuitive Commissioning and Device Replacement Wizards, which enable unskilled users to commission and/or replace instruments, and then allows users to extract value from devices already installed in their facilities.
  • Combined Single Information Repository, which eliminates duplication and mismatch issues commonly experienced with independent DCS and asset databases. This saves labor by providing a single, unified backup.

Likewise, FDM employs common software templates, which enable users to quickly create and customize HART devices, and eliminate repetitive and costly manual engineering. Even better, any changes made to the parent template ripple automatically through its other instances. Similarly, when creating instances for HART instruments, FDM lets users choose between adding devices individually using drag-and-drop, or bulk-generating instrument instances using a configuration grid. FDM also has a fast drag-and-drop function for initial device creation.

Also, FDM can coordinate efforts with:

  • Field Device Tool (FDT) protocol to provide plug-in applications via FDT's device type manager (DTM) software, and diagnose complex devices such as positioners. It also has a flexible user interface, rich graphics, comprehensive diagnostics, and is vendor neutral.
  • Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) to provides descriptions for configuration and basic on-line data viewing, as well as limited diagnostic capabilities.

Following up FDM's recent launch, Stapleton reported that Invensys will add more parts and features for it soon, and release a new Maintenance Response Center solution in April 2014.

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