5.3        Block Types

A Block Type defines a template for building Block Tags.  A Bock Type defines a group of related parameters for a control system device such as a PID controller, VAV, Air Handler, an IO card or recorder.

A Block Type is associated with a Device Type. This is because a Block is very dependent on the address structure used by the automation device and is built on the parameters (which are associated with a Device Type).

You can have the same Block Type name associated with multiple Device Types, but this is not recommended: it is very difficult to build a Block Detail Display that can successfully display the data for such a Block type.  It would require all the parameters be named identically and be of the same type (analog digital and text).

The following is an outline of the steps in creating a Block Type and then Block Tags.

1.      Plan addresses.   Look for a common addressing scheme for all the parameters in your Block.  For blocks to work well as a productivity tool, there should be some predictable pattern to the addresses of the parameters in the Block. 

2.      Configure Parameters that will act as templates for the element in your block.  For example, a PID Block might have SETPOINT, MEASUREMENT and OUTPUT as Parameters.

3.      Group parameters into Block Types.  The Block Type name will also be used to call up the Block Detail Display for all Block Tags created using this Type.

4.  Create Block Tags.  If you planned your addresses well, you will be able to use the Block Offset feature to create the proper addresses for all the parameters in the block with a single keystroke.

5.  Review the addresses of the parameters in your Block Tags using the Update Block Page.  If you did not plan your addresses well, or there is no repeatable pattern to the addresses, you will have to edit each parameter in your newly created Block Tags.

For Blocks to work well as a productivity tool, the addressing in each controller must be similar with some predictable offset or pattern. Otherwise, each block must be individually modified and each parameter in the block modified to enter the correct address.

The Block Offset feature can increment all the addresses of all the parameters in a block by a given amount. If your parameter addresses have a predictable pattern, the Block Offset feature can greatly reduce the time and effort to create blocks and establish communications with the field.

Parameter Addresses require some planning for use with blocks. However, the time-savings can be great on large repetitive automation projects.  A single offset number can create a dozen or more communication addresses for all the data in the field device.

If you leave the parameter address blank, for all the parameters in your block, the block offset will set all the addresses to the same value and you will have to manually re-enter the correct address for each parameter in every block.