vendor organizations announced the availability of an FDT
specification extension for the SERCOS III Ethernet
communications system at the recent SPS/IPC/DRIVES show. SERCOS III is the
first high-performance real-time Ethernet communication standard to support FDT
technology, used by many manufacturers to connect field devices to a wide range
of software environments.
"Both FDT and SERCOS III are open standards,
but the value of FDT comes in when a user needs an easy method for
configuration, parameterization or device access and providing information to
an asset management system," says David Tsaava, FDT/DTM Development Service
Group Leader. "Different vendors can provide a device window and device driver
tools which all work together in the FDT
"The standard insures that different
devices can be plugged together and managed in one engineering tool," he says.
"This functionality makes it simple to manage devices available for SERCOS III,
so different vendors who are implementing SERCOS III in their devices can be
easily adapted for different engineering environments."
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FDT technology standardizes the communication
interface between field devices and engineering tools, and contains annexes for
a range of different fieldbus systems. Extending the FDT specification to
SERCOS III allows users to configure SERCOS III devices via FDT's powerful DTM
Making SERCOS III FDT-enabled makes it
compatible with the FDT core specification and includes a SERCOS III
annex that provides protocol-specific integration information. Each device
vendor can use the SERCOS annex to implement it or re-engineer the tools to
make them useful in the FDT
environment. The FDT tools can be embedded into higher level engineering tools,
and provides users a method for managing device configuration and
parameterization using the one standard interface.
The key advantages of FDT technology
itself are the simplicity of configuring devices using the standard, plus DTM
device drivers which create portability between different systems. DTMs also offer
special functionality for detailed device configuration and analysis via a
graphical user interface. The DTM application opens a window for the start-up,
parameterization and diagnostics of field devices, reducing the complexity of
the application and increasing transparency for users and service technicians.
"The FDT/DTM specification is another
important step on the way to making SERCOS III a universal real-time network
for all automation applications. The combination of these two open standards,
supported by many manufacturers, reduces start-up times and increases the
security of investments," says Peter Lutz, Managing Director of SERCOS
The FDT interface specification describes the
standardized data exchange between devices and control system or engineering or
asset management tools. DTMs are classified into two categories: device DTMs
which connect to the field device configuration components and CommDTMs which
connect to the software communication components.
The DTM provides a unified structure for
accessing device parameters, configuring and operating the devices and
diagnosing problems. DTMs can range from a simple graphical user interface for
setting device parameters to a highly sophisticated application capable of
performing complex real-time calculations for diagnosis and maintenance
The FDT/DTM specification for SERCOS III was
developed by a joint working group of SERCOS International and the FDT
group, and has been verified by two independent implementations of SERCOS III