Foundation Fieldbus - a Protocol on a Fieldbus Basis

With Foundation FB, the abbreviation FB stands for fieldbus.This is a LAN standard, i.e. a standard developed for local data networks. This enables the connection of control units to devices found in process applications. After all, in the production sector, be it in the automobile industry, agriculture or other branches of the economy that work with complex installations, it is necessary to create communication between the subscribers in a network, so that these carry out automation of the work process through data exchange. The technology of the fieldbuses has shown itself to be most effective for reaching this goal. In an installation, this technology provides the connection between the sensors representing the detecting elements and the actuators as the final control elements. As mentioned, this serves the task of communication with the respective device, which assumes the task of control. The use of fieldbuses also becomes necessary as a result of the frequent need to run multiple communication subscribers over the same line. At this point, it is necessary to specify what is transmitted, when and to whom:

  • The identification,
  • the measurement values and the command,
  • and the initiative

are thus connected inseparably with each other. Protocols are used to realize such a system, one of them being Foundation FB.

What is Foundation FB?

Foundation FB is an open protocol that permits bidirectional data transmission to the field devices. This means that data packets are sent in both directions. It is therefore a point-to-point communication. The application of this technology offers four different basic services:

  1. Asset management
  2. Additional information which helps the diagnosis of a problem or condition
  3. Preventive maintenance
  4. Distributed data transfer, abbreviated as DDT.

In addition to predictive maintenance, asset management is an especially important theme for decision processes which decisively influence the installation planning. Asset management is basically system software and as such, it often is known as an installation quality management system or AGVS. Asset management is assigned to the data information area which serves the management of assets from the IT sector. This software also handles physical assets, namely machines and complex installations. Predictive maintenance has a similar meaning. Here, maintenance ‘looks ahead’ so that the assets are monitored permanently and the user can take proactive measures when faults occur. As such, these components analyze huge quantities of data that are made available from internal sources and it also can predict external influence factors and the possible risks of failure. This prevents down-time of the system, as well as the existing resources for maintenance and the installations. In general, the components are used with greater efficiency. Overall, the use of predictive management offers

  • continuous evaluation of data from different source,
  • an extensive collection of historical data for valid statements,
  • definitions of the permitted nonconformities, and
  • prognoses concerning the relevant faults.

In the meantime, these technologies are now being used by over 20 % of users, and many more plan their introduction. This also makes the use of Foundation FB relevant. This open protocol supports the applications that have just been described without problems and as such, it influences the work process positively.

Gains that are made from the use of Foundation FB

Through the use of Foundation FB, integrated components within the control and operation level emerge out of conventional device data. Through this, the protocol is characterised as an optimal interface for maintenance and installation planning. This is made clear by a list of the advantages:

  • More economic efficiency, as access is made possible to all device data and diagnoses and it can be done easily
  • Full interoperability, i.e. cooperation of all devices which have Foundation FB certification
  • Higher flexibility for manufacturing as a result of the optimized productivity of installations
  • Increased safety and reliability, which especially relates to the quality of the signals
  • Higher availability of the installation and the resulting reduction of the down-time
  • Access to the data required for transparency within process automation is always possible
  • Predictive maintenance through reliable and secure diagnosis data
  • Capacity for the exchangeability of devices
  • The ability of Foundation FB to be used in areas at risk of explosions
  • An improved information flow
  • Rapid data exchange
  • More openness through manufacturer independence

Conclusion concerning Foundation FB

Over time, this open protocol has become an indispensable technology within process automation. This is because the free use and the independence from manufacturers enables this fieldbus system to connect many installations with each other without influencing the data flow negatively. Foundation FB provides optimization of apparently any sections within a process which requires internal communication, so that this protocol is also the basis and the future of automation technology.