Parametrization and analyzing software FDT / DTM

What do FDT (Field Device Tool) and DTM (Device Type Manager) actually mean?

The FDT technology standardises the communication interface between field devices and the system environment (host). The special feature of this technology is that it is independent of the communication protocol used as well as of the respective software environment. The user is likewise independent to choose the unit to be used and the control system used. In brief: FDT makes it possible to address any unit via any system using any protocol.


And this is how it works:

The manufacturer of a device provides a special software, the Device Type Manager (DTM) for each of his devices or device groups. The DTM which is a software works as a unit driver for the respective components, e.g. sensors. As with a printer driver for a PC-based operating system the DTM works in an automation or engineering system. The DTM covers all unit-specific data, functions and operating conditions, such as the device structure, the communication possibilities available, the internal dependencies and the capabilities for human-machine communication. The DTMs provide functions to call device parameters, to configure and operate devices and to locate errors. DTMs may consist of a simple graphic user interface for creating device parameters or they may also take the form of a sophisticated application which, for example, carries out real time calculations for diagnostics and maintenance purposes.

The DTM is loaded into a further software, the FDT container program and executed from there. The system environment (host) with the FDT container program as frame application defines a number of interfaces between the host application and the DTM. FDT container programs can be configuration programs for devices or for controllers (PLC), however they can also consist of an operating panel with the corresponding software program for an asset management. At any rate, both the DTM and the FDT are always software solutions. The communication with various devices via the fieldbuses used (e.g. AS-i, HART, Profibus, etc.) is implemented via so-called communication DTMs. These DTMs are provided by the manufacturers of the fieldbus devices and components and allow a network topology via several different fieldbus systems.

Advantages:
  • open and manufacturer-independent software architecture
  • independence from communication protocols thanks to a standardised interface definition
  • only one software with the same operation and the possibility of easy extension
  • device configuration, documentation and diagnostics for the entire plant
  • user-friendly for OEMs and end users


The FDT frame software (ifm container) and the DTM catalogue