The Fieldbus Foundation was founded in 1994 through the merger of ISP and WorldFIP. The first FF specification was H1, published in 1995. In 1999, the Fieldbus Foundation added an Ethernet data connection version of the protocol in a specification. The Fieldbus Foundation claims that so far, over 250 products conforming to FF and over 700,000 FF devices have been delivered.
The fieldbuses are characterised by advantages. One particular feature of note is the fact that not much work is involved in the wiring. This is something that saves a lot of time during planning and installation. With this, jumper boards, the dimensions of the switchgear cabinet and the cables are reduced. In addition, self-diagnosis by the system becomes possible. This is a feature which can break down errors. There is also higher reliability and better availability through shorter signal paths.
Even in the case of analog values, the protection before F is increased. Open fieldbuses unify data transmission and device connection, regardless of the manufacturer. Another advantage is the fact that the components of different manufacturers can be exchanged more easily – at least with regard to the basic communication. As a result of this simplified exchangeability, expansions / changes are easy to perform and they guarantee flexibility and security for the future. Specification of measuring ranges is not required for transducers. This is something which again, saves time. In addition, the visual indication scale in the control system can be changed at any time.
The FF is composed of an FF linking device gateway and an FF HSE communication. This makes it possible to integrate standard FDT frame applications (e.g. SMART VISION, Field Device Manager, FieldMate, or PACTware) with the fieldbus interface module of the linking devices / Softing without problems. This solution creates the ability for transparent access to FDT-suitable field devices connected to the corresponding FF H1 networks. FDT functionalities such as simple parameterization and diagnosis are supported extensively. The FF HSE has extensive FDT-based software, so that it is possible to operate FF installations simply. Among other things, the modern user interface offers tips and online help.
When the device DTMs of the individual FF H1 field devices (which are connected with the linking devices or the fieldbus interface module) are available on the computer together with the FDT frame application, the corresponding devices are recognized automatically and are entered with all the corresponding device and manufacturer information into the live list and subsequently stored. In addition to storing of error messages, the FF HSE also offers functionalities for FDT uploads and downloads, as well as connection monitoring. The FF HSE can also be used without having to activate a license key, and it is included in the scope of deliveries of the gateway and linking device products of Softing. In this way, the license for the FF HSE can be provided via the licenses of these products.
It is only in this way, that it is possible to use the many advantages of the FF HSE without additional licensing. The FF HSE kit represents an extensive package that makes it possible for the user to ensure that the communication components for the device of a manufacturer correspond to the HSE test procedures and directives. In order to successfully pass the interoperability test, a device must contain a communication component registered with the Fieldbus Foundation which has successfully passed the conformity tests. With the kit, developers can have the correct communication behavior of an HSE component entered in accordance with the FF HSE specifications of the FOUNDATION. The scope of the new FF HSE also contains expansions and several improvements.
Further functions of the FF HSE include the registration of all installed devices, the automatic searching of networks, the importing of DD and CFF files as well as the assignment of the device tags, addresses and function block tags. In addition, function block links and schedules can be configured. The downloading and uploading of configurations and schedules are also included. Function block applications in devices can be monitored online with the FF HSE. The scope of the fieldbus package includes a data access server for convenient access to data in Foundation fieldbus devices with each conforming OPC client.