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Title:
ELECTRONIC DEVICE CONFIGURATION
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/144846
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention provides for an electronic functional device such as an isolator and arranged to offer configurable functionality for alteration of the function of the device, the device including wireless reception means for receiving wireless configuration data for the selective configuration of the device, and can also include wireless transmission means for the wireless transmission of data identifying its configured state.

Inventors:
PARFITT JOHN STEWART (GB)
Application Number:
GB2017/050188
Publication Date:
August 31, 2017
Filing Date:
January 25, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
COOPER TECHNOLOGIES CO (US)
PARFITT JOHN STEWART (GB)
International Classes:
H02H9/00; H04B5/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2015025267A12015-02-26
Foreign References:
US20120007736A12012-01-12
US20080041930A12008-02-21
US20150296598A12015-10-15
Other References:
PAUL S BABIARZ: "Making Start With The Field Device", 1 January 2005 (2005-01-01), XP055131872, Retrieved from the Internet [retrieved on 20140728]
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WP THOMPSON (London EC4A 1BT, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. An isolator device for providing circuit isolation and arranged to offer configurable functionality for alteration of the function of the isolation device, the device including wireless reception means for receiving wireless configuration data for the selective configuration of the device.

2. A device as claimed in Claim 1 and including means for wireless

transmission of data relating to its configured state.

3. A device as claimed in Claim 1 or 2, wherein the wireless reception means is arranged for receiving wireless configuration data while the device is not in a powered state.

4. A device as claimed in Claim 1, 2 or 3, and including non-volatile memory functionality.

5. A device as claimed in Claim 1, 2, 3 or 4, wherein the wireless reception means comprises an RFID device.

6. A device as claimed in any one or more of Claims 1 to 5, and including near field communication functionality.

7. A device as claimed in Claim 6, wherein the wireless reception means exhibits near field communication functionality.

8. A device as claimed in Claim 6 or 7, wherein means provided for wireless transmission of a configured state comprises near field communication functionality.

9. A device as claimed in any one or more of the preceding claims, and arranged to be mobile device-, and optionally smart phone-enabled.

10. A device as claimed in any one or more of the preceding claims, and comprising a universal isolator.

11. A device as claimed in any one or more of the preceding claims and including barrier functionality.

12. A device as claimed in any one or more of the preceding claims and

arranged for offering safety functionality for devices operating within an intrinsically safe environment.

13. A device as claimed in any one or more of the preceding claims and arranged to transmit device status and/or diagnostic information.

Description:
Electronic Device Configuration

The present invention relates to the configuration of a functional electronic device such as, for example, an electronic device offering isolation and/or barrier functionality and can, if required, relate to devices operating in intrinsically safe environments.

Electronic devices offering characteristics such as isolation and/or barrier, or indeed general safety, functionality, find common use in relation to control systems in process-control environments.

A wide variety of process control systems for operating in such environments are known and which require some form of device/circuit isolation.

While known devices such as isolators are generally manufactured with a particular functional requirement in mind, such that the choice of component elements, and respective wiring elements, are generally known and factory-set, there has been a recent emergence of increasingly sophisticated barrier/isolator devices, especially, for example, so called universal isolators. These isolators can offer an ever increasing selection of possible functions within one device. The exact functionality of such devices is therefore not set, and it becomes possible to configure such universal isolators so as to meet one of several possible functional requirements. Such configuration is also known in relation to thermocouple and RTD isolators insofar as it is necessary to set the type and range of sensor.

However, in order to configure such known universal isolators for the required functionality, a configuration unit is connected to the device either by way of serial lines, or by way of a plug-in device, both of which requiring physical connection to the already assembled device. It is commonly required that switches are employed for achieving the selection of the required reconfiguration.

Various disadvantages and limitations have been identified for such known configuration arrangements. For example, when employing the use of serial lines, the configuration is disadvantageously specific to the particular system requirements. Also, when employing cables associated with plug-in devices, such cables can generally be lost or damaged, or otherwise not available at the particular time and location of requirement and this can disrupt or even prevent the configuration process. This can then cause severe problems for the commissioning/use of the whole system in which the universal isolator is to be used. There is also the related disadvantage that the isolator unit may require removal in order to enable the required reconfiguration, and which increases the level of disruption encountered with known systems.

Also, such physical connections to an isolator device can present Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) issues and so an operative having responsibility for the configuration needs to be careful to ground him/herself before the configuration process commences. It is a further disadvantage with such known configuration arrangements that the isolator may have to be in a powered state during the configuration process.

The present invention seeks to provide for a functional electronic device, having configurable functionality and offering one or more advantages over known such devices.

According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided an isolator device for providing circuit isolation and arranged to offer configurable functionality for alteration of the function of the isolator device, the isolator device including wireless reception means for receiving wireless configuration data for the selective configuration of the device.

Through the provision of the wireless reception means within the functional device arranged for receiving the wireless configuration data, far more flexible, efficient, reliable and also potentially cost-effective configuration of the functional device can be achieved.

In particular, the functional device of the present invention allows an operative to configure the device remotely, and from an appropriate distance, and in any appropriate situation such as, for example, but not limited to, while the device is in a powered, or an unpowered, state, while the device is in assembly mode or indeed in the post-assembly test mode, while the device is either mounted within a functional system, or being manually handled for mounting in such a system, and also while located in situ for example in the field. Advantageously, the electronic isolator device includes means for wireless transmission of data relating to its configured state.

In such a manner, any previous configuration of the device can readily be remotely checked, and re-checked as required, and at any appropriate time during testing, or when mounted in the field for use.

Advantageously therefore, the wireless reception means is arranged for receiving wireless configuration data while the device is powered.

Alternatively, the wireless reception means is arranged for receiving wireless configuration data while the device is not in a powered state.

As a further advantage, the device includes a non-volatile memory functionality.

In one particularly advantageous embodiment, the wireless reception means comprises a RFID device.

Also, the functional electronic device can include near field communication functionality. In particular, the wireless reception means can exhibit near field communication functionality.

As a further example, the electronic functional device can be arranged to be mobile-enabled.

One particular embodiment of the electronic functional device comprises an isolator device. In particular, the isolator device can comprise a universal isolator.

In another example of the invention, the electronic functional device can comprise a barrier device.

In particular, the functional electronic device is arranged for offering safety functionality for devices operating within an intrinsically safe environment.

As will therefore be appreciated, the present invention provides for particularly efficient, adaptable and cost-effective means for achieving, maintaining, and readily checking, in an advantageously remote manner, the configuration of a functional device such as a universal isolator. The configuration can be achieved, maintained, checked and whether during assembly, post-assembly, during commissioning or later in field-test and in-situ use scenarios. According to one example, the invention can be arranged such that data obtained from the device can comprise device status and/or diagnostic information.

Any communication devices such as smartphones increasingly have the facility of conversing with an RFID chip via an appropriate application. Accordingly, the configuration unit can then advantageously be incorporated into known and commonly available communication devices such as smart phone devices, laptop computers and tablet devices.

The cost and footprint of RFID devices is also advantageously less than external EEPROMs such as are currently employed for universal isolator configuration.

Additionally there is no need for expensive connectors and associated components.

A device can therefore advantageously, inspect, and check the configuration at any time when in the vicinity of the functional device.

Also, multiple devices can be readily configured/checked as and when required through simultaneous receipt of a configuring/interrogating transmission from a configuration unit.

The invention is described further hereinafter, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which :

Fig. 1A is a schematic block diagram of a known universal isolator and known options for configuration connectivity;

Fig. IB is a perspective view of the mounting of a plurality of such known universal isolator devices when system-mounted such as mounted within an isolator cabinet for use in relation to an intrinsically safe system;

Fig. 2A is a schematic representation of a universal isolator according to an embodiment of the present invention; and

Fig. 2B is a perspective view of an array of universal isolators according to an embodiment of the present invention and forming part of an isolator system within, for example an isolator cabinet of an intrinsically safe system. Turing first to Fig. 1A, there is provided a schematic illustration of a universal isolator which can be arranged, for example, to offer isolation to field devices arranged to operate within an intrinsically safe environment.

The isolator comprises a microprocessor based control element 111 in communication with a non-volatile storage element 112 as indicated by the opposing arrows. The combination of the microprocessor based control element 111 and the non-volatile storage 112 provides for an appropriate one of a plurality of possible configurations for the isolator device as required by the manner of isolation, for example whether within the digital domain or analog domain, and the nature of the field devices, to be isolated.

The particular configuration of the isolator 101 to be employed is controlled through use of a configuration unit which connects to the microprocessor base control element by way of for example, a plug-in connector 121, or a serial connector 122.

As indicated, the plug-in connector 121 is arranged to be received in a socket 131, whereas the connector 122 is arranged to be received in a connector slot 132 as illustrated.

Further detail of the use of such a known configurable universal isolator 101 is illustrated with reference to Fig. IB. Here, a plurality of seven isolator units 101-107 are illustrated and wherein one 135 of the sockets is arranged to receive the plug 121 associated with a configuration unit for the delivery of configuration data to the configured isolator 105 which, through illumination of the particular LED 145 indicates the selection and/or manner of configuration.

As will therefore be appreciated for reference to Figs. 1 and 2, the configuration is disadvantageously limited insofar as the use of the serial line results in a particular configuration specific to the system requirements only, whereas use of the plug 121 requires the ready availability of undamaged cables and at the particular location of requirement.

Turning now to Fig. 2A, there is provided a schematic illustration of one embodiment of the present invention. Fig. 2A illustrates a configurable universal isolator 201 as an example of the configurable functional device of the present invention and which employs a micro system control element 211 for use in part of the configuration process.

However, rather than the serial input/sockets of the known configurable universal isolator devices, the example of the present invention offered by isolator 201 employs an FID unit having a small antenna, commonly in the order of 10mm, and also offering non-volatile storage functionality.

Thus, the communication of configurable data to, and the transmission of configured data from, the universal isolator 201 can advantageously be employed in a wireless manner and by means of particularly cost effective, and generally readily available, communication devices such as a known smart phone 221, and laptop 222 and indeed other devices such as communication-enabled tablet devices.

With reference to Fig. 2B, there is illustrated the employment of such an isolator 201 of the present invention as a mounting of seven isolator devices 201-207 in which one isolator device 205 is selected, and again as indicated by illuminated LED 245 for appropriate wireless/remote configuration by way of its RFID device (not shown in Fig. 2B) and an operative's smartphone 221.

As will therefore be appreciated, the ability to communicate to the microprocessor control element 211 of the isolator 201 of the present invention allows an operator to configure the isolator 201 at a distance, in any situation, while powered or not, whether on an assembly bench, test bench, whether in an operatives hand, or generally on the fly production or when mounted in the field.

The configuration unit can therefore readily be incorporated within widely available communication devices such as smartphones which can readily be arranged for communication with an RFID chip and which provide for particularly cost effective alternatives to the use of known EEPROMs and connectors as found in the prior art.

In addition, an operative can readily identify, inspect and check the configuration at any time when in the vicinity of the isolator device 201 and, if required, for example, each of the plurality of isolator devices 201-207 as illustrated in Fig. 2B when, for example, mounted within an isolation cabinet, can be configured simultaneously by way of receipt of the configuration data from the hand held device 221.

Of course, it should be appreciated that the invention is not restricted to the exact details of the foregoing embodiment and the remote communication with the configurable isolator device can be by way of any appropriate wireless transmission/reception technology an including those employing Near Field Communication (NFC) communication protocols or otherwise.

The configuration can therefore be advantageously memorised even when the unit is turned off. Also, no direct contact is required with the isolator device due to the use of the transmission/reception of wireless configuration data and so the configuration and subsequent inspection, process can be achieved in a more reliable and efficient manner and, in particular, in a manner not exhibiting EMC issues for the operative.

Additionally, if an isolator is an intrinsically safe device and if it is mounted in a zone of danger, for ex. Zone 2, while a connector based

configuration/communication would be forbidden during operation, such a type of communication as herein described would be allowed.




 
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