Automation Suppliers Benefit From FDI 'PlugFests'

By FieldComm Group

Apr 05, 2017

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FieldComm Group and PROFIBUS/PROFINET International are cooperating during 2017 to stage a series “PlugFests” to validate the interoperability promise of Field Device Integration (FDI) technology. The events are intended for members of both organizations seeking to improve the interoperability of FDI Device Packages and FDI Host Systems being developed and released onto the market.

Managed by FieldComm Group staff and volunteers, PlugFests allow teams of development engineers working on FDI-compliant host systems and field instruments to collaborate on a confidential basis to verify the interoperability of their products with offerings from different companies. The events normally take place in conjunction with regular FieldComm Group Working Group meetings.

The first FDI PlugFest was held October 20-21, 2016, in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. A second event was staged in Hong Kong, China, on March 30-31, 2017. Upcoming sites include Berlin, Germany, and Long Beach, California. Companies must be a member of FieldComm Group or PROFIBUS/PROFINET International to take part in the free-of-charge testing.

According to FieldComm Group’s Director of Marketing, Paul Sereiko, the FDI PlugFests are intended to test field devices, controllers, systems, and engineering/diagnostic tools both with pre-release devices and instruments just introduced to the market. “FDI holds the key to optimizing interoperability across a wide spectrum of industrial automation,” Sereiko said. “The aim of PlugFest goes beyond solving developer problems, and is an improvement over independent testing. Suppliers get to see first-hand how their hosts and devices work together with comparable products from other vendors. For FieldComm Group, these events provide valuable feedback that can be used for continuous enhancement of technical specifications, tools and product registration processes. The ultimate beneficiaries, of course, will be process industry end users.”

Sereiko added, “By conducting PlugFests globally, FieldComm Group will engage with automation equipment manufacturers in various regions of the world to help ensure a success commercial launch of FDI.”

FDI technology originated as a way to dramatically simplify software installation, configuration, maintenance, and integration of field instruments with host systems. Modern field devices often include a device information file such as an Electronic Device Description (EDD) or Device Type Manager™ (DTM™) that provides software access to the features and functions of the device, one or more user interface plug-ins that integrate with host system software to enhance usability of the field device with the host, numerous user manuals, installation instructions and data sheets.

Before FDI, multiple integration products had to be implemented and maintained by the device manufacturers, supportive documents had to be searched and collected by the users, and several integration standards had to be supported by the system vendors.

FDI brings standardization to the packaging and distribution of all the software and tools necessary to integrate a device with a host system regardless of protocol. All registered FDI devices will have one single FDI Device Package consisting of all the host needs to optimize the capabilities of each device.

All FDI PlugFest participants are required to sign a confidentiality agreement prior to the event.