With the introduction of digital field devices, manufactures of control systems and maintenance tools were faced with the challenge of how to access and display information in devices that were produced by different companies. Over the years, a number of approaches have been developed. However, the Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) is the dominant technology used in the process industry to support interfacing to digital devices. There are more than 15 million installed devices that support access to diagnostic and calibration information through the use of EDDL. A device manufacture may use EDDL to fully describe the data that is accessible in a field device. Also, this language allows the manufacturer to define the user interface and operating procedures needed for calibration and diagnostics. Quite complex interfaces and interactions are fully supported since EDDL addresses such things as commands, menus and display formats. The latest version of EDDL fully supports the use of menus, windows, tabs and groups and graphic support for graphs, trends, charts and dial indicators. Device description files that are created using EDDL are known as Electronic Device Descriptions, EDD. An engineering station or handheld that is EDDL enabled is designed to use EDD files to support diagnostics and calibration of devices. New EDD’s for device updates or new devices introduced by a manufacture may be added to an EDDL enabled control system or maintenance tools without worrying about software viruses, revision levels, etc. This is because the EDDL file is simply interpreted by these systems and there is no requirement to load software components such as dll’s into these tools. This is the major advantage that EDDL has over competing technologies such as FDT/DTM that require executable software components to be incorporated into engineering systems and handheld device.
The EDDL capability that we have today is the results of a cooperation effort by Fieldbus Foundation, HART Communication Foundation, PROFIBUS Nutzerorganisation e.V., and the OPC Foundation. These organizations fully support the use of EDDL for device description. The latest version of EDD’s for any device certified by these organizations can be downloaded simply by going to their web site. For more information on the support that is provided for EDD’s, you can visit the Fieldbus Foundation, HART Communication Foundation, or Profibus International web sites. The Electronic Device Description Language is a recognized international standard, IEC61804. Even though IEC6180 is an international standard and is supported by most manufacturers, many end users are unaware of this technology or how it compares to competing technologies such as FDT/DTM. Thus, in late 2005 I submitted a proposal to ISA to adopt the IEC61804 standard as an ISA/ANSI standard. As explained in this proposal, the primary reason for establishing EDDL as an ISA/ANSI standard is to help raise awareness in the process industry of the important role that EDDL plays in the process industry today and to convey the advantages this technology has over competing technologies such as FDT/DTM.
In response to my proposal, ISA announced in early 2006 the formation of SP104. Since I submitted the proposal to create this committee and was the US expert on the IEC SC65E WG7 committee that wrote the IEC61804 standard, I was asked to be the committee chairman. The editor of the IEC61804 standard, Ludwig Winkel, Siemens, is the vice-char of SP104. There has been a great response within industry to the formation of the SP104 committee. The committee currently consists of 10 members from the US, China, Singapore, Germany and France. Each member brings a variety of experiences and knowledge of the process industry.
Since our first meeting in October, 2006, the SP104 committee has made significant progress. In our first meeting we agreed to adopt the IEC61804 standard and to distribute this document for vote. This document is currently in the stage of public review. In addition, key team lead positions within the committee have been filled:
Marketing – Ed Ladd, HART Communication Foundation
Education – Jonas Berge, Emerson
Certification – Christian Diedrich, University of Magdeburg
Liaison to IEC, ISO and Consortia groups – Ludwig Winkel, Siemens
Over the last few months, the SP104 committee has been working with ISA on the design of a web site. This web site will be dedicated to information and educational material on EDDL technology. Through this initiative, the SP104 committee will introduce a variety of new material on EDDL that may be easily accessed by anyone from industry. This site should be on-line by early spring. Also, the committee plans to sponsor sessions and workshops on EDDL at some of the major trade conferences scheduled for later this year. Thus, you should be hearing more about EDDL over the next few months.