Fieldbus safety functions now updated

Fieldbus Foundation updates SIF specification and releases development tools.

12/27/2010


The Fieldbus Foundation has announced that updated device development solutions for its Foundation Fieldbus for Safety Instrumented Functions (FF-SIF) technology are now available. The new release includes the FF-SIF Technical Specification, Foundation for SIF Interoperability Test Kit (SIF ITK), and DD Library. These solutions support development of interoperable fieldbus devices intended for use in industrial plant SIF applications.

Foundation fieldbus has been widely deployed in critical process industries. Its distributed function blocks and open communications provide an excellent platform for advancing standards-based SIFs. The foundation says that this technology enables process end users to realize significant CAPEX and OPEX benefits by extending fieldbus benefits into plant safety systems. The FF-SIF protocol was approved by TÜV Anlagentechnik GmbH to meet the requirements of IEC 61508 up to, and including, SIL 3.

FF-SIF technology is now being specified for projects worldwide, with leading process industry companies such as Shell Project & Technology and Saudi Aramco already running pilot projects. These companies, along with other major end users, are encouraging the automation equipment industry to develop safety-approved products for their initial installations.

The foundation says that by implementing FF-SIF, process plants can achieve enhanced diagnostics through a fully integrated asset management system. They can also minimize the need for testing final control elements. This allows for early detection of dangerous device failures and reduces the incidence of spurious trips.

The latest Foundation for SIF Technical Specification defines analog input (AI) blocks for fieldbus transmitters and other SIF devices. In addition, the specification now addresses discrete output (DO) blocks, which is a major enhancement required for deployment of a complete fieldbus-based safety system. The updated specification package also includes the SIF Device ITK Profile, offering an easy way to map SIF field device requirements to existing SIF ITK versions.

Within Foundation technology, function blocks contain the information needed for online control functions. Device description (DD) and capability files (CF) provide additional information required for configuration and display purposes.

The updated FF SIF ITK Version 1.1 includes a new, intuitive user interface, as well as additional test cases for testing SIF DO blocks and a variety of updates to existing test cases. The test kit is an excellent tool for troubleshooting and debugging devices, and provides all hardware and software required to ensure a manufacturer's complete device interoperability as specified by the Fieldbus Foundation's official registration testing procedure. By using the test kit, device developers can run tests identical to those used by the foundation before submitting their device for registration.

The test kit includes a host of test cases verifying the functionality of a fieldbus device and its conformance with the Foundation fieldbus function block and transducer block specifications. It also incorporates a DD "Super Viewer" allowing examination and verification of a device's DD, and a conformance test procedure for the physical layer. The viewer supports validation of existing DDs and the new DD 5.1 format. Device developers can walk their DD, execute methods, and render visualization elements supported by the new DD 5.1 technology.

The interoperability test suite can be paired with an ITK automation tool designed to eliminate several manual intervention steps required when performing pre-registration testing of fieldbus devices. The tool improves ITK schedule efficiency and provides a direct reduction in the person-hours needed to complete the testing phase. The SIF ITK is available with a maintenance agreement to keep the test suite software up to date with the latest enhancements.

The DD Library includes standard Device Description Language (DDL) code for SIF blocks. With this DD subscription service, device developers have access to a template DDL making it easier and less time-consuming to develop DDs to the Foundation fieldbus specification.

For more information, visit the Fieldbus Foundation's specification page.

www.fieldbus.org

Edited by Peter Welander, pwelander@cfemedia.com

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