Drives and Controls Magazine
Automation firms can now use FDI spec to develop products
Published:  10 March, 2015

The FieldComm Group – the standards-based organisation formed in January by the merger of the Fieldbus Foundation with the Hart Communication Foundation – has announced the availability of the Field Device Integration (FDI) specification, together with tools that will allow automation suppliers to develop products and host systems compatible with FDI.

At the core of the FDI specification is the FDI Device Package that includes everything a host system needs to integrate intelligent devices. The package can scale according to the complexities and requirements of each device, making it easier for automation suppliers to develop and integrate device information and configurations across a variety of host systems and protocols.

FDI is being developed by five major automation foundations –Profibus & Profinet International, the OPC Foundation, the FDT Group, as well as the Fieldbus Foundation and Hart Communication Foundation. Together, they have formed a company called FDI Cooperation, headed by a “board of managers” composed of representatives of the organisations, as well as managers from automation suppliers including ABB, Emerson, Endress+Hauser, Honeywell, Schneider Electric, Siemens and Yokogawa.

FDI Cooperation is said to mark an “unprecedented” level of cooperation among suppliers and foundations to achieve a single integration technology for the benefit of end-users. Its mandate is to develop a single technology to manage the information that comes from intelligent devices in all areas of a plant.

The release of the FDI specification, developer tools and host components, will support the development of FDI-based devices and host systems. Developers can now implement and test FDI Device Packages using the FDI Integrated Development Environment (IDE), which will help them create packages for Foundation Fieldbus, Hart and Profibus devices.

A functional view of an FDI Device Package

Host system manufacturers can now implement FDI Host Components for systems such as device management tools, asset management tools, and process automation systems. These components are said to allow rapid development and will ensure that FDI Device Packages behave consistently across different systems. The components support a new unified EDD (electronic device description) file format for Foundation Fieldbus, Hart and Profibus devices, as well as existing Foundation Fieldbus and Hart EDDs to protect end-user investments.

The FDI specification has been submitted to the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for final approval and will be included in the IEC 62769 standard, which is expected to be approved in the first quarter of 2015.

The specification, developer tools and host components will be available from the FieldComm Group.