Fieldbus Network Diagnostics Moniotor Simplifies Commissioning of Fieldbus Segments

May 16, 2006

Hampton, NH... MTL-Relcom has announced the latest addition to its Foundation fieldbus™ H1 toolkit, the FBT-6 Fieldbus Diagnostics Monitor. The handheld device monitors a live fieldbus network without interfering with its operation, enabled via an impressive variety of features including noise measurements in 3 bands, monitoring of signal level for all devices, monitoring of signal to shield faults, network retransmissions and the ability to download data to a PC via a USB port. Aimed at maintenance personnel and Distributed Control Systems (DCS) suppliers, the FBT-6 is intended for easier and faster troubleshooting and commissioning of fieldbus segments by eliminating the need to manually record the values when connecting a tester on each segment or device.

The device builds on the Relcom FBT-3 fieldbus tester - established as the standard for fieldbus H1 test equipment - and has been developed in collaboration with key end users, fieldbus training centres and systems companies. Feedback from these groups highlighted the complexity of collecting and recording the bus parameters required by modern fieldbus commissioning procedures. The new FBT-6 performs measurement and collection of all the key parameters, providing the user with a comprehensive baseline of the fieldbus physical layer.

The FBT-6 diagnostic monitor measures noise levels in fieldbus frequency, as well as low and high frequencies (3 bands) to help identify the source of noise on segment which may lead to communication errors. The device records peak and average noise levels based on this information. Monitoring of signal levels for all devices, as well as monitoring of signal to shield faults often caused by poor installation practice are important new measurement functions offered by the FBT-6. These measurements clearly identify wiring errors which can be corrected during the commissioning procedure for the fieldbus system.

Network retransmissions are checked by the FBT-6 from each device on the segment. If a device fails to respond to 3 consecutive pass tokens, it will be removed from the control systems live communication list, while an alarm will alert the operator to the problem. Detecting retransmissions via the FBT-6 provides a key performance indicator of the health of the network, allowing corrective action to be taken before a device is removed from the live list.

Data collected by the FBT-6 can be quickly downloaded to a PC via a USB port (FBT-6 Assistant software provided supports Windows XP and Windows 2000). The transferred files will be saved as comma separated files (.csv) and can be opened in Microsoft Excel, displaying the parameters and actual values of collected data in an easily readable format.

Hazardous area certification is now in progress which will allow the FBT-6 to be connected to intrinsically safe and non-incendive fieldbus systems without the need for a gas free permit.

The FBT-6 is now available and shipping from MTL

About MTL

The MTL Instruments Group is recognized as a world leader in the development and supply of Intrinsic Safety, Open Process Control components and Surge Protection products aimed at the process control and telecommunications industries. Many of the world's safety-critical processes are monitored, controlled or protected by MTL products and the Group is distinguished by its global network of sales and support centers and by its acknowledged position as a thought leader in this high technology marketplace.

MTL has recently developed a range of open process control components, which can be snapped together by third party companies to create sophisticated control solutions, tailored to their customer needs. Based on the MTL8000 Process IO, these components can be remote mounted into harsh and hazardous areas, unlocking the costs normally associated with control rooms. This has involved the combination of the Group's three core technologies - Intrinsic Safety, Surge Protection and Open Control Platforms.

MTL's long established Hazardous Area Business Unit has built up an enviable reputation as a leading global provider of Intrinsic Safety interfaces and systems for use in process control applications.

The Surge Business unit offers solutions for mission critical applications in the Process, Data Network and Telecommunications markets, which may be at risk of damage from lightning or other high voltage surges.