FIP - from France for the entire world
It is not easy to find the meaning of the acronym FIP. Originally, the word was equated with the “factory implementation protocol”. Later it became known under the name “factory instrumentation protocol” or the “flux information process”. Today, this protocol (and that is what it is here) is standardized under IEC 61158 no matter how the acronym is read, and it is most widely known as WorldfiP. This technology is a fieldbus with its origin in France and is based on the use of Ethernet.
Ethernet - the basis of the Fieldbus FIP
FIP operates by means of a real-time capable Industrial Ethernet. The characterization as real-time capable initially means that this technological application can use a system that can meet the quantitative real-time requirements. This is done by calculation of a desired result within a time span that is defined clearly in advance, i.e. a time interval. As such, the requested data package has to be available to the system before the time limit has expired. However, in the end, the size of this time span is not essential. FIP operates on the basis of Ethernet. This is a technology that makes it possible to provide specifications for the software, the hardware, and the cable-bound data networks. These data networks originally were intended for LANs, i.e. local area networks. Via the Ethernet , data can be exchanged within a network. This takes place in the form of data packets, i.e. a collection of numerical messages transmitted between devices of a local network. This serves system-internal communication, whereby the FIP assumes an important position in IT and industrial communication. After all, especially in economic sectors where complex installations are used and there is a constant requirement for larger and more cost-efficient production, the automation of processes within a work process is decisive. Ethernet is composed of different types of protocols that specify the structure of data transmission. This means regulation of the transmission process, namely what is received and when. In addition to the types of cables and plugs, these protocols also cover the forms of transmission, i.e. the formats and the signals.
The factory instrumentation protocol is a standardized fieldbus oriented on the European standard EN50170. This technology was developed based on a French initiative in the year 1982, while trying to design a demand analysis for the future fieldbus standard. In the year 1986, this led to the “European Eureka Initiative” with 13 large members. This grouping in France created the start of the fieldbus that was created later on. Because of the efforts of various manufacturers to find an internationally valid standard for this technology by themselves, the WorldFIP organization was formed in support of FIP. In addition to the naming for this project, WorldFIP also designates a specific fieldbus system on the basis of FIP. Here, the difference to the “Factory Instrumentation Protocol” lies in the wire-bound transmissions that are available to the network:
- Voltage mode at 31.25 kbps
- Voltage mode at 1.0 Mbps
- Current mode at 1.0 Mbps
- Voltage mode at 2.5 Mbps
In addition to these four specifications for data transmission within the WorldFIP, the possibility of optical waveguides is also available. This concerns the transmission of light via optical polymer fibers or quartz. This LWL, the (German) abbreviation of optical fiber cable, is defined via the European standard 50170. The transmission rates for the “Factory Instrumentation Protocol” are the same as for its successor. Here too, data packages or light are transmitted via cable or optical fibers. Within a single segment it is possible to connect up to 255 stations with a total of 65536 available communication points. The message protocol also uses synchronized access to the channel with messages that can have a length of up to 128 bytes.
The Meaning of the Protocol
In IT and automation technology, protocols are used for the controlled transmission of data. As developed back then in France, the “Factory Instrumentation Protocol” has now come to play an important role. Over the course of time it served as the basis for specifications for further fieldbus systems. However, the advantages from the use of such a technology are wider still. As such, the improvements over parallel wiring are:
- lower cable expenditures, saving time thanks to simpler planning and installation,
- reduction of jumper boards and large distribution cabinets,
- the ability of the system to perform a self-diagnosis,
- the higher reliability of the signal paths and their shortening,
- the higher protection against interference in the case of analog values, and
- the elimination of specified ranges for measurements.
The advantages of using a fieldbus system, and with it, the extent of the “Factory Instrumentation Protocol” have not been covered fully by this listing. This protocol can and must be considered as an important technological achievement.