Systems Integration / Fieldbus

Replacing a Field Device

Is the 3 a.m., Sunday Morning Replacement the Killer App?

By Jonas Berge

[Editor's note: This comment is in response to our news of the new specification for Foundation fieldbus from our January issue.]

Being able to replace a field device at the proverbial "3 a.m. on Sunday morning," now also with a different version device, is a capability users have been seeking for a long time. A device can be replaced by a newer version without touching the control system—just like 4-20 mA. It's good news for new and existing users of fieldbus that it's now possible. That is, the DD file for the new device is not needed immediately; it can be downloaded and copied onto the system a few days later when the system administrator has time. I personally believe this is a major milestone for fieldbus. It makes fieldbus suitable for every plant, not just the energy majors like Shell, Chevron, Reliance, etc.

Learn more about device revision management and backwards compatibility in the device revision management guide found at

The NAMUR NE107-compliant device diagnostics alarms are great for putting device diagnostics to good use, integrating device diagnostics into work processes for daily maintenance and turnaround planning, etc., while at the same time avoiding alarm flooding . They're at

Guidance for how to incorporate NAMUR NE107 status flags into the work process is available at

It's great that the Fieldbus Foundation has listened to the experience from existing fieldbus users like BP, Saudi Aramco, Petrobras and other leading energy majors, and incorporated their ideas into the technology, so that smaller users can also take advantage of modern digital technology all the way from the very "first meter," and they can fully use digital systems from sensor to actuator to fully benefit from digital technology.

Existing users of fieldbus systems should upgrade to the latest version of system software to take advantage of the best available usability features to make it easier for the operations, as well as to  run and maintain organizations to fully benefit from fieldbus advantages over conventional technology.