For industrial device operation, there are two primary technologies with overlapping and yet different philosophies in play. While both Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) and Field Device Tool (FDT) have their specific advantages, the situation for system vendors, device manufacturers and particularly end users has been extremely unsatisfying.
In response to this, Professor Klaus Bender and the Institute for Information Technology in Mechanical Engineering (ITM) developed and released earlier this year what appears to be a novel concept that integrates the advantages of EDDL and FDT into a universal and clearly structured architecture.
To further detail the concept, ITM developed a white paper and issued it to the EDDL Cooperation Team and FDT Group respectively to get their opinions. The positive comments from both organizations mark a milestone in the field of device integration as they show such an amount of agreement that the chances for a joint solution are very good.
During Hannover Fair in April, ITM demonstrated the concept at the Profibus International booth to provide first-hand information about the topic and, hopefully, more clarity about the inherent advantages of the concept.
Representatives of the FDT Group and ECT announced at Hannover they will develop a common technology to benefit both users and manufacturers. As part of this agreement, FDT Group will join the ECT as its newest member. FDT and ECT representatives agreed to work together to finalize this solution, and achieve a common framework that meets the requirements of all parties. Future developments will use a subset of OPC UA technology within a client-server architecture. In addition, both parties agreed to incorporate the advantages of FDT and EDDL technologies.
This new cooperation follows our targets of openness and freedom of choice for the benefit of end users, and is strongly supported by our members, said Flavio Tolfo, FDT Groups managing director. After much discussion, we reached a commitment to work together, and protect the investment of each technology for the benefit of end users. FDT Group is looking forward to bringing to bear its experience of integrating software applications in conjunction with device descriptions by joining the EDDL Cooperation Team to solve end user needs.
Hans-Georg Kumpfmueller, chairman of the ECT, said the agreement, once it becomes a reality, is a major step forward for device integration in several areas. It eliminates double efforts for customers and vendors, and preserves backward compatibility and operating system independence. Its based on new OPC UA technology, providing EDDL-based integration with the possibility for integrating software applications for highly complex requirements. Our agreement is the natural technical evolution based on the most up-to-date, open, and flexible technologies.
The FDT Group today claims membership of more than 57 companies around the world with primary activities in process and factory automation.
In 2003, the Fieldbus Foundation, HART Communication Foundation, and Profibus Nutzerorganisation formed the ECT Cooperation Team to develop a common specification for graphical visualization and persistent data storage functions enabled by EDDL.
In 2004, the OPC Foundation joined the cooperation team.
With regard to EDDL, which is an established IEC standard, it made sense for the OPC specification to base its data structure on that same standard, and work with the organizations to develop a standard interface to the Unified Architecture. The four organizations signed an agreement in 2004 to cooperate towards the development of that interface.