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Troubleshooting FOUNDATION Fieldbus networks
By John Rezabek
End users and manufacturers have learned a lot about Fieldbus since its early prototypes were rolled out in the late 1990s. Fieldbus aims to be an open and interoperable standard, allowing two-way communication between devices and hosts from a diverse array of manufacturers. It invariably took a few iterations to minimize the gray area for bugs to lay in wait for pioneering end users. Fieldbus Foundation’s “Interoperability Test Kit” for field devices is now in its 6th major release, and the level of certainty with which users can experience “freedom to choose” is excellent. Certifications exist not only for field devices, but also for hosts, power supplies, cables, and termination hardware. Users can now specify virtually every component of their fieldbus system to possess a certification that is “fit for purpose”—meeting or exceeding the user’s minimum requirements. Host vendors have been running interoperability test beds of their own, aiming to vet nearly any device’s compatibility with their distributed control system. These are largely empirical tests where devices are installed, commissioned, and “burned in” for periods of weeks, months, or longer. There has generally been a laudable degree of cooperation between hosts and device vendors— sometimes fierce competitors—to assist one another in solving interoperability issues. Host, device testing at the Fieldbus Foundation Within the Fieldbus Foundation’s automation infrastructure, interoperability is possible because devices and software must all conform to the same standard, and they are tested and registered to that standard. Products bearing the FOUNDATION product registration symbol have undergone a series of common tests administered by the Fieldbus Foundation. End users can select the best device for a specific measurement or control task, regardless of the manufacturer. There are three basic paths for testing and registration within the Fieldbus Foundation: H1 Testing for devices residing on the H1 network; HSE Testing for devices residing on the high-speed HSE network; and Host Profile Testing for host systems. The Foundation has test kits for each level of testing. Host testing and registration is of particular importance to end users. The host and device testing are continuously being refined to address more user requirements and to provide a higher degree of interoperability. As mentioned, the Fieldbus Foundation is now in Version 6 of its device Interoperability Test Kit, and the Foundation has completely revamped their Host Profile Registration process to include more mandatory features that will guarantee interoperability between devices and hosts from different vendors.
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 a synopsis 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 in the physical layer, that is, the wiring, terminations, and power supplies. Experienced fieldbus users are adamant that a little effort in training the installers pays immense dividends at commissioning time. At Reliance’s Jamnagar Refinery in India, for example, hundreds of local electricians were trained 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” to deliver “certainty of outcome” and minimize unforeseen issues. Especially when you are under the gun to deliver a project on time and under budget, it is best to leave any “science projects” for the end 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 supply registered 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 craftsmanship in the early going and have 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 encountered and 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 the proper voltage at the field device; you can use a conventional multi-meter. The fieldbus specification calls 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 now delivered polarity-insensitive, but you can check this too if you notice your device’s terminals have “+” and “-” indicated. Assuming all of the above checks out (or if, for example, there is no voltage at the device), you can start looking for physical layer errors. Are the shields properly landed and grounded, preferably
(depending on where you are) in only one point at the host? If you are using quick connects, are the conductors landed correctly in the device? Are the terminals torqued to the recommended tightness? Whatever the root cause, most experienced users prefer a shortcut to fieldbus network diagnosis. They choose test equipment that falls into a few distinct categories: Built-for-purpose portables like the Relcom FBT-6 and P+F ADM, multi-function hand-held that include some physical layer diagnostics like the 475 Communicator by Rosemount, built-in diagnostic modules like those offered by P+F, Relcom, and Turck, and generic test devices like the Fluke Scopemeter. Since fieldbus operates at a very specific frequency—31.25 KHz—training traditional instrument techs to dial up the right range on an oscilloscope that spans everything from a few Hertz to many Megahertz (and millivolts to tens of volts in the Y axis) can be daunting. This is further complicated if the demand to utilize the device is infrequent. To help, Fluke has incorporated some innovative “Bus Health” functions into recent products like the Scopemeter 125 that allow inexperienced or infrequent users to test for the same properties as the built-for-purpose devices. On-line diagnostic tools Several options exist for on-line diagnostic tools, which can be permanently attached or portable devices. Today’s diagnostic tools offer measurements, such as voltage per segment, segment noise detection, maximum and minimum fieldbus signal level, low resistance between shield and negative or positive signal pole, and more. Tools are also available to measure fieldbus “jitter” on a segment. If the on-line diagnostic tool is permanently installed as part of the FOUNDATION fieldbus power supply, additional information may be available, such as minimum, maximum, and real-time bulk voltage supply to the FOUNDATION fieldbus power supply, power supply operational status, and min/max and real-time current measurements. Benefits of a permanently installed diagnostic tool may include the ability to historize the data, and provide real-time alarming and trending of the data. Portable diagnostic tools assist in troubleshooting specific problems and may present additional data not available with permanent diagnostic tools. Permanently installed diagnostic tools should be well integrated with the host system. The biggest challenge facing end users and installers is often achieving the minimal level of craftsmanship across a large project. Once you have specified and procured check marked components and devices, the path to success consists mainly of correctly landing shielded twistedpair cables—the same as it ever was.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Rezabek is Process Control Specialist at International Specialty Products Inc. (ISP) Lima, Ohio, plant, which is part of Ashland Inc. He has site responsibility for capital projects and technical
support of all process measurement and control systems. He is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University with a BS, Systems Engineering.
November/December 2012 Automation Basics
Selecting temperature measurement and control systems
How to get accurate data and perform reliable control from systems designed for the rigors of industrial applications
By Steve Byrom
Measuring and controlling temperature is undoubtedly the most common measured parameter because it is critical to so many operations and tasks. Accurate temperature measurement and control is vital to the quality of manufactured goods, such as finished metal components, and to the efficient and safe operation of a process or system. In today’s market, there are myriad devices for monitoring and controlling temperature, ranging from simple temperature controllers to complex distributed control systems. Most temperature measurement and data acquisition products are well-suited for the job for which they are intended, but care must be taken when applying them in harsh industrial environments. Many low-cost monitoring and control devices and systems perform well in applications where they are not exposed to environmental stress. While these lower-cost devices and systems may be wellmade for their intended purposes, they often will not perform well in environments with excessive electrical noise or when exposed to over-voltage input conditions. Therefore, selecting the right equipment for the environment in which it will operate is critical for accurate and reliable performance. The objective when selecting these temperature measurement and control systems is to find a product that provides very stable and reliable performance. The systems should also provide data in the form required by the application, such as for compliance reporting or mandatory plant data archiving. Depending on the application, these systems should be able to act as the data source for real-time operations, with their data serving as the front end of the plant control system. Finally, the systems should be cost-effective as well as rugged, with very long life spans.
Ensuring performance in tough conditions Considerations for choosing the right DAS
Built to withstand harsh environmental conditions, such as high voltage, temperature extremes, etc. Ability to reject signal noise and perform stable measurements Scalability to protect investment User-friendly operator displays Networking capabilities
Finding the right type of device among the wide variety of temperature measurement and control systems can be daunting. Equipment selection begins with the ability to measure the required temperature sensor. Inputs that can measure thermocouples, resistance temperature detectors (RTDs), and DC voltage or mA outputs from temperature sensors or transmitters are a standard requirement. Thermocouple sensors are commonly used and available in a variety of types and configurations to handle almost any application. Proven through decades of industrial service, thermocouple sensors are economical and physically rugged devices that provide accurate measurements for wide temperature sensing ranges. RTDs can provide even greater accuracy, but operate over more narrow temperature ranges and are more costly. Both sensor types can typically operate continuously in conditions of excessive temperature and vibration.
Temperature transmitters measure thermocouple or RTD sensors in the field close to the process, are usually hardened to operate outdoors and in combustible environments, and output temperature data in a variety of formats, ranging from 4- to 20-mA to various digital data protocols such as HART. Smart transmitters can provide a wide variety of information in addition to the process variable sensor reading, including diagnostic and calibration data.
Selecting the right solution
A large process or test application may require hundreds of points or more of temperature sensor measurements. Operators will need to view this data, and a control system will need to act on many of these data points. The data commonly requires archiving for future review and reporting. Modern plants and industrial sites have many methods for handling this sensor data, including direct inputs to an existing control system—such as a distributed control system (DCS), a PID controller, a programmable logic controller (PLC), or a data acquisition system (DAS). Determining the best solution is dependent on many factors including existing control system capacity, overall cost, and the ability to achieve the project goals. Adding direct inputs to the control system can be a viable option if the control system has available capacity and the ability to measure the required sensors. It should also be able to meet the planned requirements for operator display, control, and data archiving, and reporting of the new measurement points.
Single-loop PID controllers can be the best choice for monitoring and controlling a limited number of temperature loops. These controllers provide local operator interface, excellent control performance, and the ability to output the process value to plant information systems via analog retransmission or in a digital data format. DASs and PLCs can be the best option when a large number of temperature points need to be measured and controlled. A DAS is well-suited for applications that require low-cost data display, storage, and access to users via an economical interface, such as a web browser or very inexpensive or free PC-based software. Extensive control needs are best achieved with a PLC system, but measurement-only and recording applications are best served by a DAS, which is available for a lower cost and optimized for temperature monitoring. In some cases, a DAS and PLC working together provide an extensive array of functions and can be the best choice at an attractive cost. A modern DAS can also expand the capacity of—and integrate with—an existing plant-wide control system, such as a DCS, by measuring many temperature sensor inputs and retransmitting the data to the DCS. In this manner, the DAS can act as a multiplexer, and be the data source for existing control and monitoring systems, often at a lower cost per channel than the existing system. Common serial and Ethernet protocols like Modbus RTU, Modbus TCP, and EtherNet/IP provide built-in connectivity from the DAS to the control and monitoring system.
DAS or PLC?
PLCs, with their inherent and almost limitless flexibility and wide-ranging application capabilities, are the clear choice for complex control applications. PLCs have similar temperature measurement performance to most DAS equipment, but they may not support certain types of thermocouple or RTD sensors. In addition, PLCs sometimes deliver inferior measurement of electrically noisy sensor inputs. Furthermore, most PLCs do not have local data recording capability. If PLC limitations are a hindrance for the particular application, a modern data acquisition/data logging system is a logical choice. Oftentimes a DAS can work with a PLC, by doing what the PLC may not be able to do—such as measuring unusual input sensors, providing more accurate measurements, and providing backup data recording along with quick access to historical data. Since there is a lot of overlap in the measurement capability of a PLC versus DAS, choosing one over the other will be based on many other factors. This may include the presence of—and preference in using—an existing vendor’s PLC system. If the plant can cost-effectively plan a new system that meets all objectives using their preferred PLC vendor, that can be the best choice. A DAS, however, can be the best choice when control is not the main requirement, and when the plant does not have established PLC expertise and support. The combination of excellent measurement performance, easy to use and inexpensive software, web browser access and readily
available connectivity to other plant systems via common protocols makes a DAS an attractive solution for many applications.
Advanced DAS features
A basic DAS is typically connected to a PC, with the PC being used for operator display and data logging. A more capable system may incorporate built-in data logging functions that allow it to record data. This provides redundancy and the convenience of stand-alone operation. With universal inputs, users can assign any channel to measure any input signal type, and fully configurable recording and display functions in the PC software or the unit itself allow it to be tailored for each application requirement. High-speed DASs can capture many thousands of data samples per second per channel, but temperature is generally a slow-changing parameter that does not require this level of performance. Depending on the manufacturer, a wide array of DASs may be offered, ranging in size from portable hand-held devices to large standalone systems that can easily handle hundreds or even thousands of inputs. DASs, with their multiple capabilities, can handle a wide range of monitoring, control, and data logging functions. Some of the newest DASs include embedded control functions that can provide up to 500 lines of logic. This lets them perform many of the same control functions as a separate temperature or process controller.
Considerations when choosing a DAS solution
In general, DASs are used for two distinct purposes: testing/laboratory applications and industrial applications. A lower-end, less robust DAS will often work well in a clean lab environment, but that same DAS will not be able to perform in a harsh industrial environment, such as a petrochemical plant. DASs for test laboratory and industrial process environments both have their own performance challenges. Some test applications require temperature measurements of energized components or
circuits where the thermocouple sensor is in direct contact with high AC voltage. Successful measurement under these conditions requires differential inputs with high common mode voltage and noise rejection specifications, as well as robust channel-to-channel and channel-to-ground isolation. A low-cost, single-ended measurement circuit will fail under these conditions in the worst case and often provide noisy and unusable data. Industrial settings can present other challenges with the added demands of coping with ambient temperature extremes, dirt, vibration, and moisture. A well-engineered system must survive and provide stable and accurate measurements in these applications and environments. Products built for industrial environments should have dust- and splash-proof front panels, preferably compliant with IEC529-IP65 and NEMA4 standards, and the ability to retain data during power failures of any duration in non-volatile memory not requiring a battery protection circuit. Measured and calculated data should be continuously saved to a secure, non-volatile flash memory. At scheduled intervals, the files in the memory can be automatically copied to another flash memory, and these files can be copied and archived to an FTP server. These features enable three copies of the same data file to be stored at the same time in different locations, providing redundant and highly secure data storage. A DAS should also be highly scalable to expand as needed. This can be done by adding input modules or by connecting to expansion hardware via a serial or Ethernet connection using a protocol such as Modbus, which can enable users to add hundreds of input channels to the base unit.
Data display and manipulation
Operators need a method to observe data and interact with the DAS. This can be a PC display showing the DAS software screens, a web browser, or a built-in color LCD at the DAS. Typical displays include trend, digital, and bar graph screens—with the ability to build custom displays that suit the needs of the user. Users should be able to review historical data with date and time calendar search functions. The DAS should also contain reporting templates, such as an Excel report template that enables reports to be created easily and automatically. Network connectivity ties everything together. The goal of any DAS is to deliver sensor data for reporting and analysis. The ubiquitous Ethernet interface is a DAS requirement, connecting the DAS to the plant network and into the PC world. Multiple protocols are typically available, such as FTP for file transfer, Modbus TCP and EtherNet/IP, web browsing, email messaging, and OPC server support. When standard industry protocols are supported by the data acquisition equipment, data can be seamlessly exchanged with virtually any other control or computing system in the enterprise. Touchscreen interfaces are the next step in streamlining DASs. Newer systems offer improved ergonomics and operator interface, going from the buttons and panel key navigation to only one or
two buttons and a touchscreen operation interface that has many of the characteristics of a modern smartphone or tablet interface. A modern DAS can serve multiple functions: monitoring and control, local operator display, redundant data recording, and multiplexed data source to a plant-wide control and monitoring system. When an application demands all or most of these functions, a DAS can be the best fit, offering a highly reliable and economical solution.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steve Byrom (email@example.com) has been with Yokogawa for 16 years and has 30 years of experience in industrial automation. He is a graduate of Lincoln Technical Institute, in Allentown, Penn.
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