The five major automation foundations, including the FDT
Group, Fieldbus Foundation, HART Communication Foundation,
PROFIBUS & PROFINET International, and OPC Foundation have
developed a single common solution for field device integration (FDI), the groups said
These foundations have
combined their efforts to form a joint company named FDI
Cooperation, LLC (a limited liability company under US
FDI is headed by a board of managers, which is composed of
the representatives of the involved organizations, as well as
managers of global automation suppliers including ABB, Emerson,
Endress+Hauser, Honeywell, Invensys, Siemens, and Yokogawa.
FDI marks an unprecedented level of cooperation among
suppliers and foundations to achieve a single integration technology for the benefit of end
users, said Achim Laubenstein, managing director of the
FDIs mandate is to develop a single technology for the
management of information that comes from all intelligent
devices throughout all areas of the plant.
The mission of FDI is to do the following, the groups
- Complete the standardization of FDI under the IEC
(International Electrotechnical Commission).
- Manage the FDI Specification.
- Finalize the FDI tool kits for system and device
- Promote and provide high quality technology support for
FDI, independent of and common for the respective
- Preserve end users and automation
manufacturers investments by providing state-of-the-art
technology that is fully backward compatible.
- Ensure stability, interoperability and compatibility of
Efficient and economically viable device integration requires multiprotocol,
standardized technology that makes device
information available across systems and applications from
In the past, the development of such uniform technology was
inhibited by too many different interests from organizations
and automation manufacturers, resulting in the creation of
disparate technical solutions.
The current solutions - EDDL (electronic device description
language) in various formats and FDT (field device technology)
- have their strengths and weaknesses, but also overlap to a
large extent and thus lead to additional expense for users and
FDI technology will provide a very scalable solution that
users can deploy in applications ranging from simple
configuration to complex management of the most sophisticated
field devices for the various tasks associated with all phases
of their lifecycle, from configuration, commissioning, and
diagnostics to calibration.
This makes different solutions for different devices
obsolete. FDI is a truly unified solution that addresses end
user requirements across the spectrum, the groups said.
Harmonization of EDDL
FOUNDATION fieldbus, PROFIBUS, and HART all use EDDL as a
core technology, but they all use slightly different variations
of the technology. The FDI Cooperation has
harmonized EDDL across communication protocols.
This enables FDI to provide single cross protocol FDI Design
and Test Tools including a common EDD Interpreter.
EDDL harmonization is now complete, and this greatly
facilitates the second step - harmonization between EDDL and
FDT technologies. This is the ultimate goal of FDI.
In November 2011 at the NAMUR meeting in Germany, FDI device
packages were used for the first time to integrate FOUNDATION
Fieldbus, HART, and PROFIBUS field devices from various
manufacturers within an ABB process control system.
Typical applications, such as parameter assignment,
configuration, diagnostics, and maintenance, were demonstrated.
The purpose of the working prototype was to verify the FDI
concepts, apply the standard host components in a system
context, and demonstrate FDI functionality. This successful
demonstration led to the following steps.
First draft of the FDI specifications was published
at the end of 2011.
Completion of Conformance test concepts to occur
Completion of the validation and release of the FDI
specifications for member review within the foundations
Completion of the FDI standard host components, such as
EDD Engine and User Interface (UI) Engine by the FDI
Cooperation (end of 2012).
End User Benefits
The primary benefit of FDI is that end users with either an
FDT or EDDL-based host will have a single source solution for
managing the wealth of functionality and information from
intelligent field devices, the groups said.
Users will no longer need to manage disparate device
descriptions, which will reduce the costs associated with
maintaining assets in the field.
FDI combines the advantages of FDT with those of EDDL in a
single, scalable solution.
FDI is applicable to a wide range of tasks over the entire
lifecycle of the plant for both simple and the most complex
devices, including configuration, commissioning, remote
diagnostics, calibration, and more.