Charlie Piper, Foxboro product manager for fieldbus programs, believes that the coverage of the controversy over use of EDDL versus FDT-DTM in CONTROL and other magazines has been very one-sided, and that FDT has been getting short shrift. I asked him what his opinion of Fieldbus War II was, and he was off and running.
The big change, the big paradigm shift, he noted was the fact that “the device vendor is creating software that goes onto the host system. It used to be that devices were devices, and the host system vendor produced all the software resident on the host system. This isn’t true anymore.”
As a system vendor, Invensys is supporting both technologies. Piper believes, and produced some evidence to back up his belief, that EDDL and FDT-DTM are actually complimentary, rather than competitive technologies. He mentioned that he was about to introduce a new Foxboro product that allows Foxboro to create configuration software strictly based on DD files. “You can only understand the capabilities of both, if you use both,” he said.
In his opinion, EDDL will become ubiquitous for simple in-device programming, while FDT will be used for more complex software issues. “Both are vital,” he insisted.
He protested that CONTROL, among other magazines, had been too one-sided in their treatment of FDT. Perhaps we’d been swayed by other companies? “Like Emerson?” I asked him. “Like Emerson,” he confirmed.
“Then why,” I asked him, “did Dick Caro write in CONTROL last month that FDT was a technology that was unnecessary?”
“Like I said, not everyone gets it yet,” he replied. “I’d tell Dick to get out and talk to some FDT users and see what’s now being done that wasn’t being done a year ago.”
“Fine,” I said. “Find me an end user with the stature of Caro or Verhappen, who is willing to write the FDT side, and isn’t beholden to a vendor, and I’ll publish it.”
Charlie Piper said he would. I hope he does. It is about the end users, and providing them the best available data from which to make decisions.
We then moved into the HART vs. FF debate. Piper believes that it is more about perception than real understanding here, too. Hart Communications Foundation has made a good case for using Hart when working in upgrading a brownfield plant with a preponderance of HART instruments. Greenfield plants are going FF. It depends on what you want to do, and what the real cost-benefit analysis is, Piper explained.
Finally, we talked about wireless. “The media by which you transport the data stream isn’t really very important,” Piper opined. I think he’s right. “We’re going to see little clumps of applications where wireless works best first,” he continued. “There won’t be a sudden tsunami. We won’t go to sleep one night and be wired, and wake up the next morning and be wireless.”