Product Registration: Providing Confidence and Peace of Mind

March 29, 2018
FieldComm Group’s interoperability test and registration procedures examine and verify all aspects of intelligent field devices
Consistent behavior between device and host implementations is essential with today’s sophisticated process control systems. Plant owners and operators require a "plug-and-play" solution ensuring features are consistent between different manufacturers’ devices without reengineering the host configuration or changing any other element of the device network other than the new instrument.

FieldComm Group’s rigorous interoperability test and registration procedures thoroughly examine and verify all aspects of the intelligent field device. The registration process is not a simple exercise in paperwork, but a detailed and methodical set of procedures that test all specified functions of the device.

Importance of Device Testing

FieldComm Group is one of the only automation industry organizations with a registration program requiring mandatory testing of critical elements of its technology. This effort encompasses FDI, FOUNDATION Fieldbus, and HART host systems and field devices, as well as physical layer components such as power supplies, cables, and device couplers.

One of the founding principles of FieldComm Group is the support of interoperability – the ability to operate multiple devices from multiple manufacturers, in the same system, without loss of functionality.

There are two levels of testing and registration within FieldComm Group:

  • Field Level (includes testing for EDD and FDI-based H1 FOUNDATION Fieldbus devices as well as EDD and FDI-based HART and WirelessHART devices)
  • Integration Level (includes testing for EDD and FDI-based FOUNDATION Fieldbus and HART Protocol hosts as well as FOUNDATION Fieldbus linking devices)

FieldComm Group has test kits available for each level of testing so that manufacturers can ensure robust product offerings and strong pre-testing before submission for official registration.

How Registration Works

Within the FOUNDATION Fieldbus automation infrastructure, interoperability is made possible by the fact that devices and software must conform to the same standard. A rigorous product testing and registration process is the key to interoperability. Registration also ensures performance and compatibility with the demands of the automation market in the era of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Registered FOUNDATION Fieldbus products are required to undergo a series of common tests ensuring end users can select the best devices for a specific measurement or control task, regardless of the manufacturer. Only when a sample of the product has successfully completed all formal test procedures can it be officially registered. The same is true for HART Protocol products.

The Device Registration Process defines a series of test protocols for a particular device profile. The test protocols may include one or more test campaigns that are performed by the manufacturer, an approved third-party testing facility, or the FieldComm Group laboratory in Austin, Texas.

FieldComm Group audits each manufacturer’s product as it completes the formal testing procedures, and issues a certificate identifying registered features for equipment meeting all requirements of the registration process. Only those products that conform to the device registration policy are authorized to carry the Registration Mark, and registration is only valid for the product identified on the certificate. If the manufacturer modifies a registered device, system or component, it must fulfill all the registration requirements in order to maintain the product’s registration status.

History of the Program

The FOUNDATION Fieldbus product registration program, the oldest of the registration programs, began in 1998 with H1 (31.25 kbit/s) stack and field device testing. Host Interoperability Support Testing (HIST) started in 2000, and was subsequently upgraded to the current Host Registration Program. Power supply and conditioner testing and registration began in 2004, and cable and couplers followed thereafter.

The introduction of host registration testing in 2008 enhanced the overall product registration solution by supporting a new level of consistency in a multi-vendor FOUNDATION Fieldbus environment. It also highlighted the significance of enhanced Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL), because Device Description (DD) visualizations, methods and persistent data features became mandatory in this testing.

Hosts may include configuration tools, recording devices, alarm display panels, Human-Machines Interfaces (HMIs), or systems with a combination of functionality.

Host registration provides an extra measure of confidence that fieldbus systems incorporate the robust functionality of FOUNDATION technology and are able to function as part of an open, interoperable control system. The Host Profile Registration Process is another example of FieldComm Group’s commitment to full interoperability, and seamless integration, within a fieldbus environment.

Selecting Registered Products

Products registered by FieldComm Group are listed in online catalogues accessible at www.fieldcommgroup.org/services/product-testing-registration. These catalogues provide a detailed profile for each registered device, including information such as standard blocks tested for interoperability, the presence of untested Function Blocks (if any), and additional useful information.

For more information, please visit the Product Testing & Registration page on the FieldComm Group website.