Monday 30 November 2009

Fota opportunity!

Pactware roadshow hits Ireland

It was in 2001 at Interkama, the great international show of instrumentation, control and automation, that I first heard the word PACT. This was the last time the show was held in Düßeldorf before being absorbed and moved to Hannover as part of the monster Hannover Meße. As far as I can remember PACT was launched as a independent software. I reported back at that time: “PACTware is an open software interface to allow field instruments to integrate their maintenance, configuration and sensor data into a common HMI. The key to PACTware is the Field Device Type (FDT) data exchange and DTM (Device Type Manager) instrument drivers.”

Not only was PACT a new word to me but so to were the acronyms FDT and DTM.

The PACTware™ Roadshow hit Cork in mid November 2008, having just visited Manchester. The venue was the Sheraton Fota Island hotel.

About 25 attendees were witnesses to a co-operative event between vendors who were obviously trying to ease the burden of running a busy process plant rather than trying to advocate the superiority of their own particular product.
The day started with a speaker from Perperl & Fuchs introducing and discussing FDT, the open technology that enables users to easily access and extract information from their automation products.

It was developed by the Profibus Users Organisation (PNO) and the ZVEI Association of Automation Manufacturers. The technology was passed on to a new entity the FDT Group which distribute it. It is an open standard specifying standard interfaces and using underlying market accepted technologies. The structure is independent from the host engineering environment, the fieldbus protocol or the device internal software structure. Thus it can be said to be truly "open."

He said thaat FDT is seen as a complement and an expansion of the existing device description languages, not as a replacement. FDT expands the capabilities of DD, in particular for sofisticated devices. Device description languages have still limitations in the graphical representation of the device at the user interface and allow only a limited integration of special features. FDT/DTM overcomes these limitations. Existing DD's can be used to build DTM's. It is availible for HART and ProfiBUs and for Fieldbus Foundation since last year.

In short FTD is "the solution for your needs, reducing complexity in the complete plant life cycle with open standards."

Next we were introduced to the program based on this technology. The software package that is used is called PACTware™ and it is a freeware program available for download which can be used on a PC for parameterising and configuration of field instruments, remote I/O systems and communication modules in fieldbus systems and networks. It supports instruments forom a multiplicity of manufacturers.

There were long intervals to allow for practical table-top demonstrations in a spacious room where the exhibitors from the various companies - and where available their Irish representatives. The exhibitors included CodeWrights GmbH, ICS, ifac, Krohne (DWN), Magnatrol (Ntron), Pepperl+Fuchs (Insteco), Tyco, Trebing+Himstedt, Turck (Tektron) and VEGA (Hanley Controls).

The room where the talks were given was dominated by a large wall with lots of equipment from all these manufacturers and more. This was a live demonstration unit and this was explained first before the general demonstrations of the uses of PACTware™ were given.

Picture on right shows the Roadshow team in front of the "wall" which they had just constructed!

The first demonstartion was given by a speaker from Krohne who showed the configuration/paramaterisation of flowmeter outputs in a DTM (Device type manager). This was followed by a speaker from Magnatrol demonstrating level configuration. A speaker from VEGA showed the graphical interface and advance prameterisation.
Adrian O'Mahoney of Tektron talked us through ring buffer diagnostics and showed us vertical transparency HART through ProfiBUS. This was followed by a demonstration of vertical transparency Foundation Fieldbus networks, working with generic DTMs and EDD integration for both ProfiBus and HART.

The day ended up with several talks and demonstrations on device and fieldbus diagnostics, (FF & ProfiBUS).

Perhaps the most impressive thing was the demo wall and all these instruments, transmitters and actuators from different manufacturers working in four different environments, Ethernet, HART, ProfiBUS and Fieldbus Foundation and working virtually without a flaw throughout the day.

This article in the Novemeber/December issue of Read-out, Ireland's journal of instrumentation, control, and automation.

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