475 Field Communicator
Let’s play a game! Think about a handheld to set up HART and FOUNDATION Fieldbus devices. Got one? Okay, lemme see if I can guess it.
You said Emerson 475 field communicator, right? If not, then you probably thought of it first but decided to go with your second pick.
Time to review one of the most popular handhelds on the market! Let’s go over the pros and cons for all you automation geeks out there.
Whatcha got there?
The 475 field communicator can support you in most field activities. It has two options available, a HART version and a HART + FOUNDATION Fieldbus type. Using the 475, you can set up a range of devices from different brands. You just need the device description (DD) installed in the handheld’s library for it to give you full access to the device.
The 475 offers a touchscreen display, where you’ll spend most of your time. Sadly, the display has a few issues. The touchscreen accuracy could use some work, and you’ll sometimes see white spots. And inevitably, the handheld will lose some of the touchscreen function. It makes the display one of the weakest points on the 475. #Truestory
You can change languages on it, but only for the menus and basic functions. If the DD is in English, the function will show up in English or half your language and half English. Kinda awkward.
You have an enclosure rating of IP51, which is better than nothing, yeah? You also get an SD card with enough space for the DD management (1GB) and 32MB left over! The 475 field communicator has a bit of heft to it though, at nearly a kilogram, which can make it uncomfortable to carry around the plant.
What can it do?
You can set up most HART and FOUNDATION Fieldbus devices on the market! Moreover, it has a really simple user experience. However, if you need an different setup, then you’ll probably spend a few minutes looking for it, and you may not even find it!
For example, let’s change how the handheld searches for a HART device. You can set up the 475 to search for polling address 0, poll using tag, poll using long tag, and other options. Too bad most people won’t know how to do that because nobody reads the manual! While Emerson can’t fix that, simplifying the procedures would improve user experience.
The 475 also offers a built-in valvelink. Of course, you can only use that option if you have the fisher positioner from Emerson. Oh, and you’ll need the diagnostics as well! Yeah, gotta cough up more coins for all that.
On the plus side, Emerson kept it simple, the navigation structure in general is really cool, and most technicians and engineers will like it! It also has fairly intuitive basic functions, so you don’t need to read the manual to figure them out!
Why should I care?
Because updating your DD library is not always easy. You’ll need to install the field communicator upgrade utility and establish a connection with the 475 to even remove the SD card to read the files! Most of the time you’ll also need to convert the DD files before installing them.
Yeah, lot of procedures. Most users will prefer to send the handheld to Emerson or a specialist for upgrades, and they charge for that action. Sure, it comes with easy upgrade licenses installed. But you probably won’t want to do them yourself.
Also, people usually prefer to navigate with the display rather than the keyboard. But when you have a problem with the display, you’ll thank your lucky stars you have the keyboard!
In general, the 475 is an excellent device.
If you have good local support, then it makes a great principal tool for your automation team!