How Field Tablets are Changing the Game in Instrumentation

May 8, 2020

There are thousands of WhatsApp groups for process improvement, field instruments, and more topics than you can imagine, and I’m just talking about industrial automation here! But a common thread among all these groups revolves around problems with field communicators.

Of course, the user often has a hand in that. For instance, during one chat, a user wanted to know why his handheld had no HART library. I asked him a few questions, one being whether someone tried to use the internal memory card to do another thing. He answered yes, so I had to tell him that this action corrupted his files.

Device libraries have been a common problem for many field communicators, and the complicated update procedure has been a nightmare for many users. Vendors sometimes struggle to understand what really happens in the field, and the chat groups on WhatsApp prove that the challenges still exist out there.

Fortunately, solutions are showing up in the market. Field tablets like the Field Xpert SMT70 give users new hope. These tablets solve lots of old problems and offer new possibilities to field engineers and technicians. Now your device can offer an automatic DTM update, so you can forget about the headache of installing a new DTM yourself.

If you don’t see the right DTM in the list, you can add it manually with a couple of clicks – no extra software needed! This simple feature saves time on figuring out how to upgrade the device library, calling the vendors, shipping the device back and forth, and so on.

A field tablet also supports more protocols and networks, making it light-years better than a traditional handheld. A single tablet can support HART, FOUNDATION Fieldbus, and many other, which cuts down on the number of handhelds you need across your plant.

Finally, we come to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) because companies must beef up the communication in their plants between their devices as well as their employees. The COVID-19 crisis has shown a painfully bright light on the need for digitization in many segments.

Apart from setting up field devices, field tablets also connect processes to cloud-based services, such as Netilion from Endress+Hauser. Now you can get more than automatic DTM updates – you can send the device’s report directly to the cloud, saving time and paper.

I used to work in the field myself, so I know how important it is to save the device report. It’s great to be able to take pictures, attach them to the report, and send the whole package using digital cloud-based solutions such as the Netilion Library. The field tablet can connect to the cloud while you’re in the field, so you can take pics and save your report all with one device.

This feature generates faster reporting, develops a data history, and allows you to share all the information with your team so that everyone has the same level of knowledge. It improves the maintenance team’s performance considerably.

The field tablet is a modern tool with tons of benefits, including IIoT solutions for your plant. So, next time someone complains about a handheld’s library, you can say, “Have you heard about field tablets? They can help you out.”

Written by Fabrício Andrade
Digital Marketing Manager at Endress+Hauser Digital Solutions

Fabrício Andrade has an MBA in marketing and degrees in business management, process automation, and telecommunication. He also has more than 13 years of experience working in the field with projects, commissioning, repair, sales, and marketing for prominent vendors in the automation market.

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