Fieldbus Foundation releases updated interoperability test kit

Dec. 4, 2008

Austin, Texas, December 2 - The Fieldbus Foundation has announced the release of its enhanced H1 Interoperability Test Kit (ITK) 5.1 version. The test kit has been updated from previous versions to support Temperature Transducer Blocks, Device Description (DD) 5.1 functionality, and Field Diagnostics Profiles, enhancing organization and integration of device diagnostics within Foundation fieldbus systems.

The Fieldbus Foundation's ITK 5.1 test kit verifies the functionality of an H1 (31.25 kbit/s) device and its conformity with the Foundation fieldbus function block and transducer block specifications. An excellent tool for troubleshooting and debugging devices, the test kit includes all hardware and software required to ensure a manufacturer's complete device interoperability as specified by the foundation's official registration testing procedure.

By using the H1 ITK 5.1, device developers can run tests identical to those used by the Fieldbus Foundation before submitting their device for official registration.

The H1 ITK has been updated with new capabilities benefiting end users of Foundation fieldbus devices. DD 5.1 enhancements include a Cross-block Device Description, National Instruments (NI) Communication Driver 3.2.2, and updated DD Viewer. Other updates include support for the FF-904 Temperature Transducer Block Specification (single and dual sensor) and FF-912 Field Diagnostics Profile Specification. The kit also provides a Resource Block parameter set to implement the Field Diagnostics Profile, as well as various other software enhancements.

According to the Fieldbus Foundation's product manager-fieldbus products, Stephen Mitschke,  "The updated ITK includes expanded capabilities that assist instrument suppliers in implementing powerful role-based diagnostics for fieldbus equipment. This approach supports categorization of diagnostics according to the NAMUR NE107 recommendations, thus ensuring the right diagnostic information is available to the right person-at the right time. In addition, it allows diagnostics to be applied, as most appropriate, for a particular plant application."

Developed by the Fraunhofer Institute, the Fieldbus Foundation's ITK testing tool consists of a test engine, communication stack and Function Block interface card. The ITK test engine executes a set of over 400 test cases that exercise the device  plementation. The tester also includes a DD "super vewer" that allows examination and verification of a device's DD, and a conformance test procedure for the physical layer.  The DD super viewer was been enhanced to support validation of existing DDs and the new DD 5.1 format. Device developers can walk their DD, execute methods and render the new visualization elements supported by the new DD 5.1 technology. As additional standard function blocks become available, the ITK will be upgraded with new test cases to verify these expanded implementations.

The interoperability test suite can be paired with an ITK Automation Tool designed to eliminate several manual intervention steps required when performing pre-registration testing of fieldbus devices. The tool improves ITK schedule efficiency and provides a direct reduction in the person-hours needed to complete the testing phase.

Fraunhofer, based in Karlsruhe, Germany, designed the ITK to verify a unique aspect of Foundation fieldbus that makes device interoperability possible: standard function blocks.

In order for a device to pass interoperability testing, it must contain a Fieldbus Foundation-registered communication stack that has passed conformance tests.