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Fieldbus Foundation Welcomes Latest EDDL Enhancements

The Fieldbus Foundation has welcomed the latest enhancements to Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL), which are incorporated in the second edition of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61804-3 standard. This technology provides a universal method for accessing diagnostic, real-time and asset management information contained in millions of industrial field instruments, while also ensuring optimal data and device interoperability.

EDDL is a text-based language for describing the digital communication characteristics of intelligent devices and equipment parameters in an operating system (OS) and human machine interface (HMI) neutral environment. EDDL assists engineers during Distributed Control System (DCS) configuration, technicians during commissioning and maintenance using device configuration software for laptop or handheld field communicators, and operators working at DCS consoles or using intelligent device management software as part of asset management solutions.

With EDDL, a user can calibrate instruments, diagnose problems, provide data for user interface displays, identify process alarms and obtain information needed for high-level software, such as Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), plant historians, asset management and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). The technology is key to interoperability in a digital process automation architecture, enabling control systems and intelligent field devices from different manufacturers to work together.

The latest enhancements to EDDL include:

  • Support for modular devices, such as I/O subsystems that can be populated with new I/O cards over time without having to upgrade system software.
  • Support for offline configuration with default parameter values suggested by the device manufacturer to simplify and speed up device commissioning.
  • Support for Unicode character sets to display parameter labels, diagnostics and device manufacturer expert help text in many different languages, including Japanese, Chinese, etc.
  • Ability to display all device diagnostics from different blocks and all setup information on a single page, making devices easier to use and enabling commissioning and maintenance tasks to be completed faster.
  • Ability to display information based on prior selections and internal dependencies in the device, only presenting valid options so as to not clutter the pages or “wizards” (methods) with irrelevant information or waste the technician’s time by prompting for information that will not be used or options that do not apply.
  • Ability to display illustrations based on the chosen language. For instance, this could include images with explanatory text conveying know-how from the device manufacturer to assist in the interpretation of advanced diagnostics and guide setup and troubleshooting.

Fieldbus Foundation President and CEO Rich Timoney praised the EDDL enhancements, saying, “The latest enhancements increase the value proposition of EDDL for the entire plant automation industry. The FOUNDATION fieldbus Version 5.1 specification is based on this standard, which provides interoperability across multiple hosts, devices and technologies.

"This flexibility allows the end user to choose the best combination of price and performance for devices and software. Competitive bids are easier to evaluate because the end user does not have to worry if specific software packages are available to support various devices.

"With EDDL, all control systems support comparable EDDL devices. Interoperability means operators and maintenance personnel can easily find the calibration and diagnostic information needed for a particular device, and all EDDL-compatible devices will provide the necessary information in a ‘look and feel’ of the host system.”

Initially developed in 1992, EDDL technology forms the engineering and operating foundation upon which all major digital automation protocols – FOUNDATION fieldbus, HART, and Profibus — construct parametric and device descriptions.

Because EDDL is an open technology with international standard status, it can be easily and effectively applied to any device and any fieldbus protocol. The EDDL solution enables host system manufacturers to create a single engineering environment that can support any device, from any supplier, using any communications protocol, without the need for custom software drivers for each device type.

Both simple and complex devices can be managed from the same software with full access to advanced functionality to complete tasks such as commissioning, setup, calibration and diagnostics. As devices become more sophisticated, EDDL makes them easier to use.

EDDL has a long track record of ensuring backwards compatibility through revisions of the IEC standard. The latest edition does not make installed devices and systems incompatible; rather, EDDL files can be uploaded to the control system without the need for retraining. Moreover, just like the graphical enhancements in the 2006 edition, the current updates have been incorporated without relying on executable software. All unique advantages of the original technology still apply, including:

  • Ability to incorporate diagnostics for critical devices in DCS operator consoles, where they become a natural part of daily maintenance procedures.
  • Consistent diagnostic look and feel regardless of manufacturer, protocol or device type. Content and structure for system displays are defined by the device manufacturer.
  • Ability to keep systems current with new device types and versions without the difficulties associated with installing software and license key overhead.
  • Elimination of obsolescence by future versions of Windows,™ service packs or .Net framework, thus preserving investments.
  • Compact, bundled files that are easily downloaded or e-mailed.
  • Third-party interoperability tested as a package during device registration.
  • Automatic population of a common OPC server shared by all devices.
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