Fieldbus Foundation announces first registered devices implementing advanced field diagnostics

Nov. 11, 2010
New diagnostics technology will optimize plant asset management programs.
AUSTIN, Texas — The Fieldbus Foundation today announced it has registered the first Foundation fieldbus devices incorporating advanced field diagnostics technology. The new registration requirements help to standardize how fieldbus devices communicate their diagnostic data to the host and asset management tools within a plant automation system. Advancements in field diagnostics support a structured approach to asset management, which simplifies plant operators' tasks and increases their confidence in using equipment diagnostics and asset software. This, in turn, will enable improved process performance, greater reliability, increased uptime and lower operating costs. Yokogawa (field indicator) and FCI-Fluid Components International (thermal mass flow meter) are the first Foundation fieldbus H1 (31.25 kbit/s) device suppliers to pass the field diagnostics registration process. Using the power of Foundation fieldbus, and considering the NAMUR NE107 recommendations, the Fieldbus Foundation developed a profiles specification enhancing the organization and integration of device diagnostics within Foundation fieldbus systems. The new diagnostic profile includes a standard and open interface for reporting all device alarm conditions and provides a means of categorizing alert conditions by severity. The technology facilitates routing of alerts to appropriate consoles based on user-selectable severity categories. In addition, it provides recommended corrective actions and detailed help, as well as an indication of the overall health of the device. The Foundation fieldbus Diagnostics Profile Specification (FF-912) was defined to allow any Electronic Device Description (EDD)-based system to access and configure the diagnostics in fieldbus devices. The field diagnostics profile makes no changes to the existing Foundation fieldbus stack specifications. However, the profile does introduce a new field diagnostic alert type. System updates will provide more extensive integration capabilities (such as wizards for configuration) that will enhance diagnostics performance. Rather than introduce significant changes to the current Foundation protocol, the new diagnostic profile specification builds upon the existing, powerful diagnostic capabilities of Foundation fieldbus equipment and at the same time, adds a greater degree of organization so field instruments can represent their diagnostics in a more consistent way. Foundation fieldbus devices submitted for field diagnostics registration must pass Interoperability Test Kit (ITK) test cases, which exercise the bit alerts generated for fail alarms, check alarms, off-specification alarms and maintenance alarms. Devices also must support multi-bit alert reporting, as well as the new Alert Object designed for field diagnostic alarms. In addition, they must support new field diagnostics parameters in the Resource Block. The Fieldbus Foundation’s Manager-Fieldbus Products, Stephen Mitschke, commented, "In the Foundation fieldbus automation infrastructure, field diagnostics is a way of standardizing how all fieldbus devices communicate their diagnostic data to the host and asset management system — regardless of the vendor. This technology streamlines the way data is presented in order to take advantage of the rich diagnostic information available in Foundation fieldbus devices."Mitschke continued, "For end users, the largest benefit is that advanced field diagnostics enables role-based diagnostics, meaning the right information is sent to the appropriate person when they need it. Foundation technology has always utilized push diagnostics allowing the user to receive alerts much quicker, instead of the traditional method of requesting diagnostic information from devices. Field diagnostics technology will now enhance user control and distribution of messages between field devices and host/asset management systems. This will allow for faster response times as each message is presorted according to criticality, whether it is a process alarm or a maintenance alarm."Yokogawa's registered field indicator offers not only the standard functions of a field indicator, but also PID function block, link master and software download capabilities. It enables users to switch and display up to 16 indicated values for Foundation fieldbus devices. No complex operation is needed in the field in order to observe the indicated values. A self-diagnostic function based on the NAMUR NE107 standard detects failures in the ambient temperature limit, communications, and hardware such as the LCD and amplifier assembly. Fluid Components International's registered thermal mass gas flow meter is industrial-process- and plant-grade, suitable for all air and gas flow measurement applications. It provides direct gas mass flow measurements, including flow rate, totalized flow and temperature; specialized versions also include pressure measurement. The meter has no moving parts to clean or maintain and is offered in a variety of process connections. The electronics/transmitter can be integrally mounted with the flow sensor or remote-mounted up to 1000 ft. (300 m) from the sensor element.