Despite the growing evolution of specifications and the thoroughness and efficacy of product testing,there is a chance an end user will encounter a malfunction on their fieldbus networks. Here is asynopsis of steps that could get you to a quick solution.
An ounce of prevention: Aim for a quality installation
The vast majority of fieldbus problems
more than 90% by most accounts
owe to deficiencies inthe physical layer, that is, the wiring, terminations, and power supplies. Experienced fieldbus usersare adamant that a little effort in training the installers pays immense dividends at commissioning
time. At Reliance’s Jamnagar Ref
inery in India, for example, hundreds of local electricians weretrained in the rudiments of the installation. When it came time for commissioning, only three out of more than 3,000 segments exhibited any network issues.Staying with fieldbus check-marked
hosts, devices, and components is another “best practice” todeliver “certainty of outcome” and minimize unforeseen issues. Especially when you are under thegun to deliver a project on time and under budget, it is best to leave any “science projects” for
theend user in the operational phase. Early adopters found a lot of variation in things like wire & cable
—entire shipments sold as “Fieldbus” cable with nothing close to consistent impedance, let alone a
nominal 100 Ohms at 31.25 KHz. Today, you can find at least 10 suppliers who can supplyregistered cable in a variety of constructions, including armored and multi-pair cable.Finally, inspect the installation early and often. It is best to catch any hurried or errant craftsmanshipin the early going and h
ave a “teachable moment” if you will, or find a task (other than say,
terminations) for those who continue to be challenged.
The “pound” of cure: Fieldbus troubleshooting
Maybe a pound is overkill, as the majority of fieldbus networks are either “working” or “not working”—
much like OTA digital television. Here are a few categories of issues that have been encounteredand some steps to analyze and remedy them.
What if you think all the wires are landed and device “X” will not show up in your host’s
engineering/commissioning tool like the previous 300 did? It is fairly quick and easy to check for theproper voltage at the field device; you can use a conventional multi-meter. The fieldbus specificationcalls for a minimum of about 9 volts for a device to function, but most installations will see more,depending on whether the design calls for IS or other energy-limiting circuitry. Many devices are nowdelivered polarity-
insensitive, but you can check this too if you notice your device’s terminals have “+”and “
Assuming all of the above checks out (or if, for example, there is no voltage at the device), you canstart looking for physical layer errors. Are the shields properly landed and grounded, preferably