At the SPS/IPC/Drives 2010 fair the CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) announced that it had signed an agreement with the FDT Group to incorporate the CC-Link family of open networks into the FDT standard by development of a protocol annex.
CC-Link provides high-speed, deterministic communications for linking a wide range of vendor automation devices over a single cable, regardless of the make of the devices. FDT takes the concept one stage further to standardise the communication and configuration interface between various open communications networks, with the aim of allowing any device to be configured, operated, and maintained through a standardised user interface – regardless of supplier, type or communication protocol.
Work on the annex has now been completed, meaning that CC-Link is now fully supported by the FDT Group. Glenn Schulz, Managing Director of the FDT Group said: "This is a major step in the adoption of the FDT Technology into the world of discrete automation." CC-Link is one of the leading open communications protocols in the world with an installed base of 8million nodes and over 240 manufacturers producing compatible devices.
John Browett, the Acting General Manager of CLPA Europe, commented: "This is an important step forward for CC-Link. FDT is widely accepted in the process market, and is beginning to make its way into the discrete market. The completion of the annex means CC-Link will be well placed to take advantage of this trend."
The annex has taken six months to develop. Initial talks led in November 2010 to the FDT Group making a presentation to a selected audience of members, users and the press at the CLPA's global 10th anniversary event in Tokyo. SPS/IPC/Drives 2010 in Nuremburg the same month was then used to announce the formal start of the development process. This also marked the announcement of the rebranding of CC-Link as 'The Non-Stop Open Network', a statement of how its technical benefits translate to business benefits by maintaining productivity even in adverse operating conditions.
FDT technology described by CLPA as the final piece in the jigsaw of truly open communications. It standardises the communication and configuration interface between all field devices and host systems and, as such, provides a common environment for accessing each device's most sophisticated features. Devices can be configured, operated, and maintained over the CC-Link networks through standardised graphical user interfaces – regardless of supplier or type.
Browett continued: "As the acceptance of open networks grows, users are demanding common tools and the transparency to enable them to access and integrate intelligent field devices.
"Implementing the common environment provided by the FDT Group provides this, but also gives us the potential to add new functionality for users of CC-Link networks."
Schulz stated: "We are pleased to have developed an excellent working relationship with the CLPA. Their broad acceptance in the automation marketplace is a compliment to the core goals and objectives of the FDT Group. Since CC-Link is also very strong in the Asian market, we are looking forward to wider acceptance of FDT technology in this globally important region."