Automation & IT

Testing tool provides assurance of fieldbus device interoperability


Aug 10, 2005

The Fieldbus Foundation today announced the release of its enhanced Interoperability Test Kit (ITK) 4.61 version.  The test kit has been updated from previous versions with additional functionality expanding the scope of interoperability testing to benefit end users of FOUNDATION field bus? devices.

The Fieldbus Foundation¹s ITK 4.61 test kit verifies the functionality of a device with the FOUNDATION fieldbus Function Block specifications.  An excellent tool for troubleshooting and debugging devices, the test kit includes all hardware and software required to ensure a manufacturer¹s complete device interoperability as specified by the foundation¹s official registration testing procedure.

The ITK 4.61 maintenance release includes minor bug fixes, expands support for additional hardware interfaces, and enhances ITK Automation Toolkit interoperability.

According to the Fieldbus Foundation's product manager-fieldbus products, Stephen Mitschke, the enhanced ITK 4.61 is the latest resource offered by the foundation to test and verify the interoperability of multi-vendor fieldbus systems.  The ITK 4.61 is the most powerful FOUNDATION fieldbus test kit available in the automation industry, said Mitschke. Implementation of this tool provides assurance that fieldbus devices are completely interoperable and able to deliver the full, robust functionality of the FOUNDATION protocol.

Developed by the Fraunhofer Institute, the Fieldbus Foundation¹s ITK testing tool consists of a test engine, communication stack and Function Block interface card.  The ITK test engine executes a set of over 400 test cases that exercise the device implementation.

The tester also includes a Device Description (DD) viewer that allows examination and verification of a device's DD, and a conformance test procedure for the Physical Layer.  As additional standard Function Blocks become available, the ITK will be upgraded with new test cases to verify these expanded implementations.

Most recently, the interoperability test suite was enhanced with an ITK Automation Tool designed to eliminate several manual intervention steps required when performing pre-registration testing of fieldbus devices.  The tool improves ITK schedule efficiency and provides a direct reduction in the person-hours needed to complete the testing phase.

Fraunhofer, an internationally-recognized expert in communication and network testing software based in Karlsruhe, Germany, designed the ITK to verify a unique aspect of FOUNDATION fieldbus that makes device interoperability possible: standard Function Blocks.

In order for a device to pass interoperability testing, it must contain a Fieldbus Foundation-registered communication "stack" that has passed conformance tests.

For more information about the ITK 4.61 test kit, contact Maggie Carlson, Fieldbus Foundation, at (512) 794-8890, Ext. 21, or e-mail