FieldComm Group registers first process automation FDI host system

April 28, 2022

Emerson’s AMS Device Manager successfully completed conformance requirements testing under FieldComm Group’s FDI Technology Host Registration Policy. Thus, AMS Device Manager became the first FDI host system to earn the right to display the FDI registration logo in product marketing materials.

By pairing a registered FDI Device Package with a registered FDI host, end users are assured of achieving the multi-vendor interoperability FDI promise of “One Device – One Package – All Tools.” In practice, this means any HART device supporting FDI will communicate seamlessly with AMS Device Manager, and with future host systems as these become registered.

“This is a monumental achievement for FDI technology and Emerson,” said Ted Masters, president and CEO of FieldComm Group. “Over the past several years we have registered over 100 FDI Device Packages. However, the requirements for host registration are extremely rigorous to ensure compatibility among devices and hosts, making this advancement by Emerson very significant.”

There are several steps required when preparing host systems for conformance testing against current standards. An FDI host must conform to at least the HART Protocol test specification for host systems, in addition to the FDI specifications.

End users benefit because FDI is a preferred path to digital transformation in the process industry, and conforming host systems provide everything needed to advance existing HART process automation infrastructure into the 21st century, while delivering the latest offerings of new instrumentation with data rich FDI Device Packages.

Stephen Mitschke, director, standards development and technical services with FieldComm Group, said: “End users and automation suppliers both benefit from host registration. Like the current device registration process, host registration strengthens interoperability and device integration. The breadth of facets covered in the test specifications includes FDI UIPs, menu layouts and offline configuration, among others. The suite of host test specifications encompasses FDI and HART, with over 1,100 test cases combined.

"FDI host test specifications were developed through the cooperation of leading device suppliers, host system vendors, and end users. Every effort was made to provide the industry with a robust solution for verifying HART device interoperability. Now with FDI on top of the existing protocols, end users have a complete integration solution,” Mitschke continued.

Each host test begins with an audited plan that details the specific implementation of the host against the specifications. Next, there is an onsite test utilizing standard test devices and registered products. This takes multiple weeks, with complete testing spanning several months.

About AMS Device Manager and FDI

Emerson included several key features in its AMS Device Manager host software suite to support process automation end users when integrating FDI-enabled products. Traditional HART instrumentation will see continued support with this release of AMS Device Manager.

FDI brings modern techniques for security, and it aims to alleviate restrictions on device description developers by expanding the scope to include User Interface Plug-Ins (UIPs), a software component in the FDI Device Package. UIPs are used to represent complex device functionalities via a rich graphical user interface. Examples include diagnostic information, configuration wizards and valve signature analysis. Emerson’s AMS Device Manager supports the execution of UIPs, which are built with .NET in a secure sandbox.

AMS Device Manager also supports device configuration using Templates if these are present in the instrument’s EDD or FDI Device Package. A Template describes a set of parameter values used for offline configuration by the host to simplify the initial deployment of devices, reducing configuration time for end users.

Security is paramount in FDI. An FDI Device Package is a sophisticated and standardized container for all the components required to describe a field device in the plant. An FDI Device Package carries one or more digitally signed FDI Registration Certificates to ensure its authenticity and integrity. AMS Device Manager can display these digitally-signed certificates to ensure protection from unauthorized access and tampering.

End users need multi-vendor inoperability between field devices and host systems, and this functionality is ensured by registration. Over 100 field devices are now registered, with more to come. Emerson AMS Device Manager is the first host system registered, but additional host system registrations are in progress. Eventually, most of the leading device and host system suppliers will be registered, ushering in a new era of multi-vendor inoperability.

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