The handheld communicator is an essential tool for field technicians and engineers, allowing quick access to configure all devices in the plant. For a long time, I worked in support for a company that specializes in handheld communicators. I keep hearing a lot of the same questions and pains from different customers, and I collected five of the most important ones in this article. If you didn’t find the answers you were looking for, don’t hesitate to call us and ask about how handheld communicators work.

1 – Updating the license on the handheld communicator

When you buy a handheld communicator from a supplier, in most cases you’ll receive your device with a lot of device descriptions (DD’s) included. The DD’s are the files are required to have full access to all configuration on your handheld communicator. Without these files, you can’t access all of the functions.

Without the DD’s files, you will only have general access. This means that you can’t do more than basic configuration tasks. And when I say basic, I mean less than basic.

At this point, most of the customers don’t question why some features are missing, they just go on with their lives. But you can solve this situation easily by updating the license. You’ll need to update the database with an internet connection, installing the new DD’s from all suppliers following the HART communicator or Fieldbus Foundation rules.

Typically providers handheld communicator providers charge to update the database, and I believe that is why the license has a cost after expires.

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2 – Some handheld communicators are easier to update than others

You should update the database if you have an active license in your handheld communicator. I know that the procedure to do the update doesn’t always feel intuitive. You have different steps to do and if you do something wrong you can damage the SD CARD.

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 communicator that provides a really fast method to update your database with a maximum of four steps. Just look around before buying a standard solution.

3 – Why do handheld communicators have keyboards if nobody uses them?

I was thinking about that; I’ve gone in a different kind of customer around my country and sometimes abroad.  I can tell you that I never met anyone who used the keyboard often.  When they need to write something or search for a function, they activate the virtual keyboard to use on the screen because it is faster and more convenient.

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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 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 faster access, but you also have an option in the market to find a handheld communicator that offers you an easy way to do that. What kind of function would you like to see?

If you don’t remember how to configure, you will need to have the setup manual with you. In the field, you will need both the handheld communicator and the manual with you at all times. Not very user-friendly, right?

Well, some handheld communicators allow you to access the technical manuals from within the device.

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.

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.

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 communicator?

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

To know more about such handheld communicators, you can get in touch with our engineers!

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