EcoStruxure Field Device Expert speeds commissioning time

Aug 08, 2018

Commissioning field devices has traditionally been a headache that begins before startup and stays around for the life of a plant. And with today’s shortage of skilled labor, the pain is getting worse. “You need two people to commission a device, one in the field and one in the control room. It’s a manual effort that typically takes an hour per device,” said Alain Ginguene, offer management director for the EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS, to members of the press at Foxboro User Group 2018, August 8 in San Antonio. Later, if a device must be replaced, more time is lost to configuration, and confusion often reigns about which version must be used.

“We reduce that time to 15 minutes, with a single button click,” Ginguene said, introducing EcoStruxure Field Device Expert, an application that improves how engineers commission, configure and maintain field devices. Field Device Expert’s Intelligent Commissioning Wizard completely automates detection, configuration, commissioning and testing of HART field instrumentation connected to an EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS. Automatic binding and configuration of HART devices has been shown to reduce commissioning schedules by more than 75 percent, leading to faster time to profit.

“A report by EY reveals that almost two thirds of multibillion-dollar megaprojects continue to exceed budgets, with 73% missing project schedule deadlines,” said Hany Fouda, vice president, process automation offer management and global sales, Schneider Electric. “By automating the commissioning process, Field Device Expert significantly improves time to production and reduces effort, which has an immediate impact on project profitability. In one example, the return on investment calculations showed a savings of 96 days, which was the equivalent of $24 million of additional production for that project.”

Traditional, manual device commissioning is manpower-intensive, making it error-prone, time-consuming and expertise-dependent. By automating the configuration and commissioning process, Field Device Expert significantly changes automation project execution by minimizing hardware dependencies and custom engineering, and offers more flexibility in the design, timing and sequence of activities. For example, with traditional commissioning methods, it can take up to 50 minutes to configure each asset. Field Device Expert’s Intelligent Commissioning Wizard shortens that time to 15 minutes, which is a 70% reduction. Once the plant is operating, Field Device Expert continues to ease field device configuration and condition monitoring throughout the plant lifecycle which means restartslike those that occur after a maintenance turnaround or any shutdownare also faster and easier.

As part of Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure architecture and platform, Field Device Expert improves efficiency, safety, productivity and profitability. EcoStruxure is Schneider Electric’s open, interoperable, IoT-enabled system architecture and platform and delivers enhanced value around safety, reliability, efficiency, sustainability and connectivity.

Now fully integrated into the Foxboro DCS, Field Device Expert’s new capabilities include:

  • Data available in Field Device Expert can be used by EcoStruxure Maintenance Advisor, a predictive maintenance and decision-support platform that reduces configuration time and human error.

  • Intelligent Commissioning Wizard enables faster time to production and reduced commissioning effort and time. Engineers can commission devices 24/7 with no additional overtime cost.

  • Device Replacement Wizard reduces time and expertise by automating HART device replacement, either individually or in bulk. Even when a device is replaced with a non-alike device, the software automatically executes the replacement, significantly reducing downtime in such cases.

  • Single Information Repository increases safety and security by eliminating costly errors. The valuable information created during each phase of device management is saved in a single database so it can be used throughout the lifetime of the devices.This unified database eliminates duplication and mismatch issues commonly experienced with independent DCS and asset databases. This also saves additional effort by providing a single, unified backup.

  • Access Permissions for safety-related devices align with IEC61511-1, the prevailing industry standard that establishes best practices in the engineering of systems to ensure the safety of an industrial process using instrumentation.

  • Bundled HART device description library enables faster device deployment, eradicates version mismatch, and eliminates cybersecurity risks previously created by moving documents from the HART consortium web page into the system. It also prevents users from browsing and downloading files from the Internet since engineers no longer need to search for them.

  • FDT 2.0 compliant frame leverages the latest technologies (.NET over ActiveX/COM) and supports digital signatures to prevent tampering.

  • Interoperability with any device, from any vendor, with any protocol. With Foxboro DCS interoperability and any-bus capabilities, users can maintain preferences because the system adapts to user choice.

  • Advanced Diagnostic Support for vendor-embedded device type managers (DTM) enables maintenance technical personnel to access advanced diagnostics written specifically for the device by its vendor. Field Device Tool (FDT) device type manager enables flexible user interface, rich graphics and comprehensive diagnostics for field devices, even complex devices such as positioners.

“We are committed to helping our customers reap additional value from their assets and process automation investments,” said Fouda. “Our goal is to help customers progress to a safe, secure digital operation in which they can gain control of all their critical business variables—safety, security, efficiency, reliability and, most importantly, profitability. Field Device Expert and Intelligent Commissioning Wizard are perfect examples of how we continue to help our customers convert their process automation systems and solutions into the profit engines of their businesses.”