You have to love the march of technology as it applies to handheld devices, such as smart phones. Calling, texting, tweeting, emailing, web browsing all continue to get easier. In our world of process automation, technology also advances, although not quite at the same pace. Automation suppliers need to contend with explosive and corrosive environments. To be successfully used in these environments, extensive testing and certification for intrinsically safe operation with agencies such as CENELEC/ATEX, FM, CSA, FISCO, IECEx, etc. is required.
I mention all this because a new Emerson handheld device, the 475 Field Communicator, is coming on to the scene. These handhelds began years ago with the 268 HART Communicator in the mid 1980s, the 275 HART Communicator in the early 1990s and the 375 Field Communicator in the early 2000s.
The first thing an instrumentation professional will notice in the 475 is the color display. In prior EDDL-related posts, I discussed how this standard provides a form and structure for automation systems and handheld communicators to access and display device diagnostic and setup information. The 475 color display makes these diagnostic and setup screens more quickly recognized and understood.
The other big thing is full support for HART 7, which includes WirelessHART. The 475 provides configuration, device diagnostics, and advanced troubleshooting for HART, Foundation fieldbus, and WirelessHART devices.
I asked brand manager, Alan Dewey, to name some other key improvements over the 375. The size and weight are reduced to make it easier to carry and use around the plant. Battery life doubles both in use and in standby. Alan mentioned that usability was also a focus for the design team and they reduced boot up time and device display call up times.
With Bluetooth becoming prevalent in PCs, it made sense for the 475 technology team to add this protocol to provide fast, secure data transfer with the AMS Device Manager application on the PC and the Easy Upgrade Utility (which helps users keep their communicator up-to-date with the latest system software and device drivers). Like the 375, Infrared (IrDA) communications is also available, but the transfer rate is doubled.
Update: Added link to the 475 Field Communicator site.