The Fieldbus Foundation has released its H1 Interoperability Test Kit (ITK) 6.1.0. This tool tests the functionality of an H1 (31.25 kbit/s) fieldbus device and its conformity with the FOUNDATION™ function block and transducer block specifications. The Fieldbus Foundation says this Version 6.1.0 includes new features to enhance device intelligence, improve consistency in instrument configuration, and simplify replacement of field devices from different automation suppliers.

The H1 ITK consists of a test engine, communication stack and function block interface card. As a tool for troubleshooting and debugging FOUNDATION fieldbus instruments, it includes all hardware and software required to ensure complete device interoperability. By using the H1 ITK, suppliers can run tests identical to those used by the Fieldbus Foundation before submitting their product for registration.

The Fieldbus Foundation says H1 ITK 6.1.0 builds on the extensive library of FOUNDATION fieldbus block test cases, offering a series of standardized function blocks and transducer blocks that enable increased test coverage for device developers. This includes test cases for new blocks that were previously unavailable, such as flow totalizer, analog alarm, control selector and output splitter, which support expanded device applications for control-in-the-field (CIF). A new flow transducer block is intended to simplify device integration within FOUNDATION fieldbus networks. In addition, the release provides updated test cases for existing blocks, including flow, pressure, temperature, analog positioner, and discrete positioner.

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New H1 ITK test cases are focused on backwards compatibility among FOUNDATION fieldbus devices. The Fieldbus Foundation says this enhancement supports device replacement automation and enables the test kit to verify consistent behavior between device and host implementations in fieldbus-based control systems. Automation of device replacement allows the configuration in an existing field device to be restored in a newer version of that instrument without manual intervention. This "plug-and-play" solution ensures features are consistent between different generations of devices without reengineering the host configuration or changing any other element of the H1 network other than the new instrument.

The Fieldbus Foundation says the use of common transducer blocks also improves interoperability and simplifies device replacement by enabling a minimum level of configuration across all types of instruments. This results in greater predictability in fieldbus implementation, while reducing integration risks.

The technology enhancements with H1 ITK 6.1.0 will help increase the intelligence of smart field devices, unlocking complex control logic functionality that previously resided at the Distributed Control System (DCS) level and allowing it to be moved to more-capable field instruments, the Fieldbus Foundation says. This functionality makes it easier to implement CIF strategies, enabling plants to become smarter and more autonomous. Embedded control functionality in FOUNDATION devices is one of the key enablers for achieving high availability control and a stepping-stone toward single-loop integrity.

With control at the device level, process automation functions are truly distributed and there is no single point of failure in the control system above the H1 (field device) level. If there is a malfunction in the Human-Machine Interface (HMI) and a loss of visibility into the process, controllers, or any other component in the system and the control loop, including intelligent field devices, actuators and positioners, and the network, remain unaffected.

The H1 ITK 6.1.0 is available to Fieldbus Foundation members holding active maintenance agreements and for new purchases. For more information, visit www.fieldbus.org.