Friday 27 November 2009


FDT 2.0: Advantages, Benefits, Implementation

The FDT-Technology is ready to switch from ActiveX and COM to .NET and WPF. Andreas Börngen, Director Sales and Product Marketing at M&M Software illustrated the advantages and implementation of the new standard FDT 2.0 at a press conference on this year’s SPS/IPC/DRIVES fair in Nuremberg.

Comprehensive and economically successful device integration is based on technology standards, such as FDT, OPC, EDD, FDI o TCI. M&M is the technology partner in all matters related to device integration in industrial automation and is an active member in all organisations, which develop and manage their respective standards, and participates diligently in the further development of these standards. This gives M&M fundamental know-how and makes the company an informed advisor and consultant regarding the advantages and possibilities that open up with the use of state-of-the-art technologies and standards in industrial automation. Naturally, this acquired know-how will also be applied directly and at a very early stage in the product- and custom-made developments of M&M Software.

FDT is undoubtedly the most important standard for the device integration at this point in time. Besides customized software development, M&M offers a total of nine other products on the basis of FDT, which makes this company the sole provider of a complete range of products, tools and services for this technology. This portfolio is topped by an FDT-Hotline, an FDT-Portal and test- and certification laboratories in Germany and China.

This new standard is relevant for device vendors and process control system providers alike.

The rule states: DTM follows frame, which means the FDT 2.0-Frames must be on the market first for the new DTMs to be able to run. This is also one reason why M&M starts the process by offering upgraded frame-products in the market first.

M&M advises DTM developers to plan the switch to FDT 2.0 in a timely manner as new projects are still being developed for FDT 1.2.1, but already makes use of .NET technology. Therefore, it is imperative that special attention is given to the DTM architecture during the design and specification phase, so that migrating to FDT 2.0 involves only a marginal amount of cost and effort.

In the ideal case, existing DTMs can then be adjusted to the new standard, if a general "overhaul" of the DTM is required anyhow. The new standard promises to be backward compatible and therefore, "old" DTMs should be able to run also in FDT 2.0-systems. The basicDTM customers of M&M Software can be quite relaxed about the introduction of the new standard. A basicDTM is a DTM, which is generated automatically with a generator, namely the dtmGENERATOR, based on a device description file or DD. As soon as the new standard is available and the generator has been adjusted to FDT 2.0, all it takes is a new generator run to ensure FDT 2.0-compatibility of the DTM.

It is also interesting to learn who will benefit from FDT 2.0. The simple answer is: Everybody, but first and foremost the end user with his process- or factory automation system. He will notice and experience an improved quality, stability and interoperability. He will also benefit from an enhanced performance, as well as from the possibility of distributed installations on remote machines and systems. Furthermore, he will enjoy several other improvements, such as standardised, non-proprietary operating concepts.

All these improvements are made possible mainly through the change of technology from COM and Active-X to the .NET and WPF technology. This includes new architectures and a different data model. The developers of DTM- and Frame-Applications can look forward to the technical improvements, especially the use of .NET technology throughout the entire development process. This creates a developer-oriented environment and reduces the time and efforts associated with the actual implementation.

M&M shows its commitment as a technological leader with the ambitious project of developing a Product Roadmap for FDT 2.0. The Software company plans to release the first updates for the M&M Product portfolio only a few months after the release of the new version 2.0 of the FDT-standard next year (scheduled release: Middle of next year). The Frame-Application fdtCONTAINER will be the first product that is FDT 2.0 compatible in the first half of 2011. All other products will then follow suit in quick succession. For the DTM-products, an intermediate step via .NET is planned. The DTM development kit dtmMANAGER and the option for programming in .NET will be upgraded and ready to use in early 2010. In this way, all M&M customers with support- and service contracts will benefit from free-of-charge technology updates.

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