Benefits of a Common Successor to EDDL and DTM

By 22 September 2014

The common successor to EDDL and DTM is FDI. Competing standards organizations worked together to provide a single, unified approach to configuration and asset management data packaging. There were two competing standards for this data packaging: EDDL (Electronic Device Description Language) and FDT/DTM (Field Device Tool/Device Type Manager). The successor which combines the two is FDI (Field Device Integration).

Here is a report on FDI’s status from Hans-Georg Kumpfmüller, Chairman of the Board, FDI Cooperation:

hans-georg_kumpfmueller_1FDI Cooperation LLC concluded the specification work and handed over version 1.0 to IEC for the international standard (IS). So far, this is the most important milestone in the development of FDI, which started in 2011 as a collaborative task of PROFIBUS & PROFINET International (PI), HART Communication Foundation, Fieldbus Foundation, OPC Foundation and the FDT Group. When the 5 organizations joined forces, nothing less than a unified and harmonized standard for the field device integration and management was the goal – ending the days of hassle for the users to deal with competing standards and various EDDL dialects.

The fundamental building blocks of FDI are fairly simple:

  • FDI Device Packages – containing the description, business logic and user interface of a device
  • FDI Hosts – leveraging the Device Packages to interact with the field devices
  • A Certification Process – to ensure interoperability between all devices and hosts

But writing a specification is just one part of the story. It is of no value if it is not proven in use. This is why FDI Cooperation FDI_Device_Packagedeveloped standard tools and components in parallel to the specification process. FDI Common Host Components on one side for the host vendors like DCS or Asset management suppliers and an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Device Manufacturers.

The Common Host Components ensure that all FDI Hosts behave in the same way and eliminate different flavors or dialects of EDDL, the core element of the device description. The IDE on the other side enables device manufactures to quickly provide FDI Device Packages for their field devices. They can jump start the development process by starting with their current EDD and tune it to the new harmonized standard. This will make sure, that there will be lots of FDI Device Packages in a very short time.

These tools and components made a big step towards completion as well. In the recent months a beta program was running in the foundations to allow their members to get a first feeling of the technology and to help the development process with feedback regarding the usability. Well known field device manufactures tested the IDE and got their first experiences in creating a device package. With the positive feedback, the release of the first version of the tools is coming closer now and is expected early next year.

The unique approach of FDI, the collaboration of five competing organizations for the sake of a unified standard will become a role model for the future. And the technology FDI will help to gain more acceptances of fieldbuses in process automation applications.

For a discussion on benefits for Device Makers and PI Members, visit these reports.