What is System Ferret, and how do you use it?

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Recently an “end user” had the need to upgrade the firmware on several newly installed Allen-Bradley devices. This was due to an issue the factory had found post production.

To aide customers like this find the firmware of devices they have installed on their control networks, Rockwell created a free utility called “System Ferret.”

Basically, this utility works with RSLinx Classic to poll all the devices on a network and create a report of what is found. Below I'll show you the simple steps to using this utility:

1) Start by downloading the free System Ferret utility from Rockwell using the below link, then install it:

System Ferret from www.ab.com/go/iatools

System-Ferret-Download

2) Configure RSLinx Classic to communicate to your controls network.

3) Launch System Ferret and chose from the available options. In my example below I'm showing the defaults:

System Ferret

4) One option you must select is the “Origin.” This is the “driver” in RSLinx Classic which System Ferret will scan:

System-Ferret-with-Path

5) Press “Start Scan” and read the warnings which come up. To proceed, click on “Scan” on each warning popup:

System-Ferret---Scan-Warning-1-Level-0System-Ferret---Scan-Warning-2


6) Now wait as the System Ferret scans

System-Ferret---Scanning-level-1 System-Ferret---Scanning-level-7

 

 


Note: The network I ran this test on had about 30 devices on, and it took System Ferret less than 5 minutes to find all the items (I was connected via a VPN which I'm sure slowed things down.)

7) Once the scan is complete, you'll likely want to save and view the system scan report:

System-Ferret---Scan-Summary-Create-Report

8) Here's what my report looked like in Excel

System-Ferret---Scan-Summary-Report-in-Excel

I hope you've found this article about using System Ferret helpful. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or corrections please don't hesitate to leave them by using the “post a comment or question” link below.

Sincerely,

Shawn Tierney
Automation Instructor and Blogger
If you enjoyed my article, you may like my courses at TheAutomationSchool.com


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Comments:
  1. I've only done two audits with the ferret and have problems (related to why I'm using it in the first place). Depending on the hardware (1734, 1756, 1769) the response from the ferret varies a LOT. I'm sure it's the embedded "name" of the devices, and how they've changed that over the years, but NONE of them match any of their actual part numbers.
    I'm trying to audit a plant with several hundred systems, and put priorities on them depending on the hardware status (active, active mature, EOL, discontinued). But the ferret doesn't even put out enough information to determine what part number some I/O cards are.
    Any suggestions? I'm sure AB could put together a spreadsheet of part numbers vs. names programmed into the hardware that's reported by Ferret but Lord knows they won't share it. 🙂
    Good afternoon Plsticsman,
    You make a good point, not everything that is returned returns a part number 🙁
    In my example in the article one device was labeled the PanelView Plus CE 1500, but no part number is shown.
    It might be best to sit down with your local Programmable Controller Specialist to see if he can help you with part numbers of any item that's missing one?
    Sincerely,
    Shawn Tierney,
    Instructor, The Automation School
    Hi, following plsticsman message, what are the limits of Ferret?
    What can it get, and what it can not get? Firmware version?
    Is it possible to automate its run, via scheduler or something?
    The idea would be to have it run at regular and frequent intervals, and to push the results in another software.
    Thanks
    Good afternoon cactux,
    Great questions, probably best answered by trying it as it's free.
    Last time I used it the report looked like this:
    I had heard Rockwell wanted to migrate it's features into other products but never heard more about it,
    Sincerely,
    Shawn Tierney,
    Instructor, The Automation School

4 Old Comments:

    • Good morning David,

      I haven’t used it myself via the command line as I found the user interface quite useful.

      Shawn Tierney

      If you enjoyed reading my article you may also like my affordable training courses at TheAutomationSchool.com

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