Mobile Field Device Management

Mobile Field Device Management

Field devices are the backbone of the process industry. Measurement probes detect fill levels, pressure or flow rates, for example, whilst actuators control processes according to certain parameters. The problem is that field devices are used in great numbers across large areas. Depending on the manufacturer, they communicate with the higher-level automation technology in very different ways.

Universal communication…
One widespread way in which various field devices are diagnosed and parametrized with a single application is field device tool (FDT) technology. This technology is developed by the FDT Group, an independent non-profit alliance of international companies founded under Belgian company law (AISBL) in 2005. Using universal device drivers known as device type managers (DTM), together with suitable frame applications for operation, FDT standardizes the communication and configuration interfaces between all kinds of field devices and host systems.

Available on the go
This forms the basis for a common environment for accessing functions, with each field device now able to be fully configured, controlled and maintained via a standard interface. In the next stage of development, the FDT Group aims to provide these features for mobile devices as well, so that users can retrieve and display settings, measurement curves or the status of the field devices on a tablet PC, for example. As this is particularly relevant for work in hazardous areas, BARTEC is now involved with the FDT Group as a new member of a new working group.

Cooperation project 2: The HART modem
In another cooperation project, BARTEC developed a “translator” for HART-compatible field devices (highway addressable remote transducer). The “HART modem” was developed in cooperation with major automation manufacturers. By connecting it with the expansion port of the Agile X tablet PC, users can wirelessly read or adjust field devices, such as a valve, independently of the control system. Thanks to its intrinsic safety, users now have an integrated and efficient solution that is also suitable for mixed operation. This makes it possible to conduct consecutive flow rate measurements when loading fuel and in a treatment plant outside the explosive area, meaning even greater efficiency!