Efforts to simplify the implementation and operation of FOUNDATION Fieldbus-based digital controls systems in the process industries is an ever expanding role FieldComm Group plays a part in achieving. Working with our members in technical working groups, we've reached several important milestones and there are more still on the horizon.
The Usability Initiative — a name given to the continued work effort surrounding user experience, feedback & improvement — is intended to make the digital fieldbus automation experience easier than conventional analog control systems in every conceivable way, from device setup to device replacement and daily maintenance practices. The goal is to marry the technology advancement of today's products, with the simple familiarity of yesterday's work practices.
When it comes to industrial control systems and instrumentation, usability is all about human Interaction. It addresses the user experience and making the user interface (UI) simple and intuitive. Usability is a measure of:
The usability initiative was conceived as a way to make smart devices easier to deploy and operate than traditional unintelligent 4-20 mA technology. It began with surveys of the global supplier and end user communities to determine their “pain points” in utilizing fieldbus, followed by the development of case studies to resolve their issues.
A particular area of concern for the usability initiative has been eliminating the need to employ Electronic Device Descriptions (EDDs) for basic process variable (PV) integration – a key consideration in a wide range of device replacement scenarios. The goal is PV device interchangeability, whereby end users can swap out different vendors’ products with different feature sets and still get the PV value with no engineering effort. To help accomplish that goal fieldbus needs to replicate familiar 4-20 mA work practices, but with modern digital systems the division of duties is blurred.
This led to the creation of 4 principle objectives to ease usability.
Once the challenges the users face in integrating smart instrumentation was defined, technical teams went straight to work developing solutions to ease the burden.
The FOUNDATION Fieldbus technical specifications currently include support for fieldbus device replacement and backwards compatibility, DD templates, field diagnostics and alarm/alert integration. The ability to utilize these enhanced features was included in Host Profile C, which required hosts to integrate field diagnostics into alarm management systems, rather than just provide access to the information in a device view. Standard Connection Points is currently under development from our Technical Working Groups.
|Feature||Market Availability (est.)|
|Automated Device Replacement||Q2 2019|
|Standard Connection Points||Q1 2019|
Developers looking for information on enhancements released to specification or development tools and testing equipment can go to our Development Products & Tools page in our support portal. You can also subscribe to receive product updates by submitting a ticket request through the support portal.