5 things nobody tells about Handhelds!

The essential tool for a field technician or engineer is a Handheld to have quick access to configure all devices in the plant. For a long time, I supported as a specialist in a company responsible for Handhelds.

I heard a lot of same questions and pains from different kind of customers, and I would like to share here five of them. The answers to all the issues, for sure will support in your day probably solving common problems.

1 – Why the license needs to be updated?

When you buy a Handheld from a supplier, you’ll receive your device with a lot of device descriptions (DD’s) inside, at least in most of the Handhelds in the market. The DD’s are the files are required to have full access in all configuration on your device, if you don’t have these particular files, you can’t access all functions.

Without the DD’s files you will have only a general access, which means, you can’t do more than the basic configuration. And when I say basic, I mean less than basic. At this point, most of the customers don’t try to understand why does it happen, instead they just live with it. When you have this kind of situation the license update will be important,  because you’ll need to upgrade the database using the internet, installing the new DD’s from all suppliers following the HART or Fieldbus Foundation rules.

Typically providers from Handheld charge to update the database, and I believe that is why the license has a cost after expires (I don’t know exactly but make sense).

2 – Depending on your Handheld won’t be easy the procedure to update!

You should update the database if you have an active license in your Handheld. Just go to the computer and do it, or so you had thought before you try it. I know your feeling, the procedure to do the update normally is not intuitive, you have different steps to do and if you do something wrong you can damage the SD CARD

(Please, don’t save pictures from your family at SD CARDS).

If you don’t have the DD’s file from a new database, and you need to install manually, the procedure will be worst, because you must convert the files from HART or Field Foundation before you try to insert into your database. Nobody can say that it’s a quick and safe procedure because it’s not.

The good news is, you can find a Handheld providing a real fast method to update your database with maximum four steps to be completed. Just look around before buying a standard solution.

Croutesy of Emerson Automation Solutions

3 – Why the Handheld has a keyboard if nobody uses?

I was thinking about that; I’ve gone in a different kind of customer around my country and sometimes abroad.  I can tell you, every single customer that I could see often didn’t use the physical keyboard.  When they need to write something or search for a function, they activate the virtual keyboard to use on the screen, one of them said to me: – I’ll lose a lot of time using the keyboard, and I prefer the digital one.

Well, I have to agree with them, how about you?

Courtesy of Endress+Hauser

Probably soon the tablet will replace the Handheld because it’s a kind of device that we typically use in our day outside the company and if we have the same platform in the field, will be more intuitive and faster than today.

4 – Improve your routine if you know to use fast!

Now you need to solve a problem in a flow device; you had never changed the configuration before, and you don’t know how to access the flow range, output, and configuration like that. It means you will lose more than enough time to do your job, won’t you?

So, this is a typical issue in the most of the plants around the world I guess. Depending on the type of communicator you’ll need to know all configuration tree to have a faster access, but you also have an option in the market to find Handheld offering you an easy way to do that. What kind of function would you like to see? Just type on search at Handheld, and you’ll see where is the configuration and go directly to there with one click, saving time without knowing the device configuration tree!

Croutesy of Emerson Automation Solutions

If you don’t remember how to configure, you will need to have the setup manual with you! In the field, you need to have on your hands the communicator and the manual, not friendly to use, huh?  The same benefit could provide in the same Handheld, where you have access to the device, and you can read the technical manual as well.

5 – Problems with the screen?

You probably had an issue with the screen; you know what I mean? You can’t use the function on the touchscreen properly, or you have a spot on the screen, and sometimes you can break the screen in the field ( The keyboard could be the solution at this moment, now we know! :)).

These problems are more common than you can image, and the answer is simple! Think of having a tool with Gorilla glass or better display quality; you won’t have the same issues again because the glass has more resistance to be used in the field.

The another point is about IP level, this is something important to think about when you have a field communicator, do you know what’s the IP protection of your Handheld?

If you work for example in a mining company, the IP 65 will be more than important to you, or if you work in a company that you can drop your field device in somewhere, the IP 67 will be necessary, think about that!

Concluding, the Handheld is the main tool for all maintenance sectors! If you have questions how to use or if the procedure is not easy enough, you’ll spend more than the necessary time to do a basic configuration.

Let me know your experience with field communicator!

Courtesy of Giphy

Below you have a list of handheld on the market

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