Introduction

The quest for field device integration has come a long way since the early days when integration of field devices, controllers, and software applications was a huge challenge. With industrial automation solution providers building disparate systems and applications, integration and connectivity within in the OT network was becoming complex and time-consuming. As intelligent field devices proliferate along with the introduction of modern asset management systems, an infrastructure for making complex adjustments and settings in the field devices became necessary.

Market needs like these led to the emergence of FDT (Field Device Tool) technology, which was established to develop and facilitate an open standard for enterprise-wide network and asset integration, innovating new ways to connect automation architectures, seamless transmission of data from sensors to the cloud.

FDT is a standardized technology that is embedded into the applications, software, host applications to monitor and control the smart field devices. FDT allows accessing, visualizing, and utilizing the insights gathered from the field devices on one single point which is scalable up to thousands of field devices. FDT supports devices irrespective of the suppliers, protocols, and host systems, which in turn increases efficiency.

Architecture

Why is FDT Technology Required?

Before device integration technologies became mainstream, industries were facing numerous challenges like:

  • Disparate Device Management: It was difficult to install, operate, and manage the numerous versions of the field devices and systems from various automation suppliers.
  • Lack of Robustness: Due to difficulty in integrating all the disparate devices seamlessly, the robustness of the entire system was less than desirable.
  • Difficulty in Maintenance: All the communication links were custom-coded and point-to-point making them inflexible and fragile, which caused difficulty in maintenance.

FDT Technologies Landscape

  • With increased emphasis on the crucial process data and information that modern intelligent field devices carry, industries started demanding a standardized infrastructure that could allow them central management, commissioning, configuration, and maintenance of the all the field devices. FDT fulfils all these requirements by enabling a common platform for all the device drivers (DTMs) produced under FDT standard irrespective of the manufacturer, device type, or communication protocol.
FDT 1.2

This first version of FDT was released in the year 2001 which was based on COM/ActiveX. It was a basic version, post which a downward compatible version FDT 1.2.1 was released that allowed the FDT technology to be adopted by various fieldbus device manufacturers that were limited to HART and PROFIBUS previously.

FDT 2.0

Released in the year 2012, FDT 2.0 quickly became popular among modern automation service providers due to its ability to support smart manufacturing assets. FDT 2.0 uses Microsoft .NET technology to enable enhanced user interface and graphical representations for the device parameters. Designed to facilitate the users with better interoperability, FDT 2.0 optimizes the DTM resource utilization in order to improve the speed of operation.

Some of the benefits of FDT2.0 are:

  • Use of Microsoft .NET framework helping the supplier applications to extend the lifetime and cutting the costs of expensive migration updates.
  • Ability to develop and implement certified FDT products at a lower cost with the help of FDTExpress software running inside Microsoft Visual Studio.
  • The FDT 2.0 DTMs allow faster access to the individual device parameters with the help of granular data storage facilities.
  • The components of an FDT-compliant architecture are digitally signed, which ensures that the components are sourced from trusted suppliers.

The components in the FDT architecture are pre-tested and pre-engineered facilitating the end-users with greater interoperability.

FDT IIoT Server (FITS- FDT 3.0)

FDT Group’s latest movement towards supporting the crucial need of smart industries is the incorporation of IIoT capabilities into FDT architecture. In order to meet this need, FDT came up with FDT IIoT Server that is an agile, flexible, and scalable solution that can be used in any operating environment. This ability makes FITS a robust architecture for advancing industrial automation solutions that can meet the dynamic demands of the market.

Some of the prime benefits of FITS are:

  • A platform-independent solution (supporting iOS, Linux, and Windows) that allows cloud, on-premise, edge, and air-gapped deployments.
  • FDT-as-a-Service architecture with an online centralized FDThub repository enabling access to certified DTMs for distribution to customers.
  • OPC UA Pub-Sub environment enabling real-time asset health diagnostic data exchange.
  • A cloud-based browser environment allowing access to the assets using authenticated devices like computer, tablet, phone, DCS, PLC, asset management application, etc.

Equipped with encrypted communication using Transport Layer Security along with role-based user security and support for 509v3 certificates for authentication.

Utthunga’s Offerings in FDT Services

Some of the key FDT Services offered by Utthunga are:

  • FDT Test & Certification Support
  • FDT Host Development
  • Device DTM, Communication DTM & Gateway DTM
  • Migration of DTM to FDI UIP
  • Easy migration to build PC/Mobile apps
  • DTM Workshop & Consultation
  • FITS Consultation and Support

Why Utthunga?

Utthunga has elaborated expertise and a proven pool of skills in the domain of device integration solutions for the industries making it just the right choice for being your FDT Services partner. Utthunga is an active member of some of the prestigious consortiums like OPC Foundation, FieldComm Group, FDT Group, ODVA, and many more. We are a technology partner of FDT Group and an accredited FDT Test and Certification Centre in India. We have been actively participating and contributing to various seminars and events conducted by FDT globally.

Utthunga is a trusted partner for the world’s leading industries for various FDT services. Get in-touch with us today!

FAQs

Security features in FDT 2.0:

  • Defined the guidelines to ensure the security like All assemblies which are part of a DTM Setup shall have a strong name
  • Identification of the origin of the assembly using public-key cryptography approach
  • Code access security from .Net framework, which allows to limit the access permissions

FDT supports the means to enable a Frame Application to validate the compliance certification of a DTM

Gateway DTMs are used to transition between different communication paths responsible for the inter-protocol mapping. For example, you have a HART device and you would like to connect HART devices via the HART multiplexer. In this case, we can have the Gateway DTMs to support the communication between the devices.

There are specification defined, however the certificate was not mandatory earlier. FDT Group has decided and working on the frameINSPECTOR to check the conformance against the FDT Specification.

Further details can be found from below link,
https://www.fdtgroup.org/certification-process/

Yes, FDT 3.0 is platform independent

It does not require any specific hardware, however it requires the specific communication DTM to work with the device DTM based on the protocol that the device is supported.

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