Product Review: AMS Trex Communicator

Asset Management Product Review

AMS Trex Communicator

Yep, another Emerson product, the AMS Trex communicator! I promise, these guys don’t pay us. They should, though. #PayUs

Seriously, we talk about Emerson a lot because they launch a lot of new products, and we like to talk about new products. Makes sense, right?

In the digital field of the automation market, Emerson makes a pretty good impression. But have they got the most innovative device?

I’m here to spill my thoughts about the new AMS Trex Communicator and put in my vote!

Whatcha got there?

The AMS Trex communicator is an evolution of the handheld. You have the same functions for setting up HART and FOUNDATION Fieldbus devices, but now you can power the devices using a single cable and check the field network diagnostics.

The Trex™ follows the market trend toward bigger devices, with a 5.7 inch touchscreen. However, weighing in at a chunky 1.33 kilograms versus the 0.75 kilogram of the 475 makes it one of the heavier options on the market.

Courtesy of Emerson Automation Solutions

On the plus side, the menu design and navigation are really cool! The  Emerson crew obviously keep an eye on marketing trends, as you can see in the menu.

You have the option of two different versions. The simple one only offers the configuration input without the power supply. The other gives you a power supply, configuration input, and current measurement! Although different options aren’t really practical, and sometimes you need to change the cables for your application.

Maybe a software feature rather than a physical change in the next version?

The design is a mix of a tablet and a brick, but it’s not bad. We already mentioned its size and the weight, and I’ll skip commenting on the  resistive touchscreen. I really hope to find a different display than they used on the 475.

The battery hurts the score, though. Just 8 hours of operating time against the 20 hours of the 475? I thought the extra weight was because of the battery! If not, then what makes it so heavy?

What can it do?

You can set up HART devices and FOUNDATION Fieldbus devices! Woo! The product offers a rich database and you probably have all the device descriptions already loaded. If you chose the Plus version, you can power up the field device using a single cable. Sort of. You need a strange combination to power a FF field device, but hey. Engineering adjusts, am I right?

Take a look at the pic below and tell me you won’t lose those red bits. I’m 100 percent sure you will.

Courtesy of Emerson Automation Solutions

The HART and FF diagnostics are the strongest points here. Having diagnostics in your handheld helps tremendously. You can check the FF segment with it, and the level of information it gives helps a lot to diagnose problems.

The AMS Trex communicator also offers wireless, Bluetooth, and USB connections to transfer data. Great to have the flexibility of more than one type of communication.

Why should I care?

Good question. The Trex™ is an excellent tool, but it’s not as innovative as they want us to think. The market has a bunch of devices like it. Nonetheless, as a HART and FF handheld, it’s still a nice tool.

Courtesy of Emerson Automation Solutions

If you have an FF network, the Trex™ can make segment diagnosis in the field easy. I like the single-cable feature too. Usually we have to set up a FF device in the workshop, so this eliminates all that mess!

Now, if you have only HART devices or a structure already set up in your workshop, then the Trex™ will feel more like a luxury choice. Simpler and cheaper handhelds on the market can set up and run diagnostics of HART devices and sometimes FF devices just as well.

Overall, it’s an okay choice. Although I didn’t find a video about the single cable for FF devices, if you want to learn more about the Trex™ in general, watch this video:

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Related tags: field communicator Foundation Fieldbus handheld HART HART communicator Product review
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