Mama Mia! What an assimilating event.

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Friday night and I’m happily ensconced in my home office with a chance to update everyone on the PROFIBUS and PROFINET aspects of the Siemens Automation Summit.

There were two presentations that were designed to assist users in applying PROFIBUS – one in general and one specifically to process.  Ron Mitchell of the PROFI Interface Center (PIC) presented the former and James Powell, the latter.  Both were heavily attended and well-received.  If you missed them, watch for the PROFIBUS Installer Class we offer and the white paper: A Guide to Troubleshooting PROFIBUS PA Networks at http://us.profibus.com/resources.aspx?pagetype=white_papers.

The impressive presentations were user presentations though.  Unfortunately, there is no where else to direct you for those… although we have convinced a few of these presenters to present at the PTO General Assembly Meeting.

I especially checked out the PROFINET successes.  There were at least two that emphasized the peer-to-peer, object-oriented aspect of PROFINET.  It was impressive to see the quantifiable savings using PROFINET to assemble lines made up of equipment with diverse control manufacturers’ devices and networks.  And even where there was consistency of control equipment, the ability to reduce the equipment to “objects” saved time in creating many similar objects.

There was also a presentation of a system that included PROFIBUS, PROFINET, PROFIsafe, and wireless.  This would not have been possible without PROFIsafe spanning PROFIBUS and PROFINET.  And the moving gantry begged for wireless.  Throw in some straight TCP/IP traffic from a vision system over the same network and you begin to see why PROFINET is the all-encompassing Industrial Ethernet.

The most fascinating application didn’t involve PROFINET (yet).  It was theater automation.  It made some of the things we do in industrial automation seem trivial from a control standpoint.  We’ve got to have this presentation at the General Assembly Meeting!

In the spirit of going to Vegas and never leaving the hotel, I took my wife to see Mama Mia! the night the Summit ended at The Mandalay Bay Theater.  I have to confess to leaving the hotel for a couple hours to trek over to the Hilton for The Star Trek Experience.  I did this 6 years ago, but since then they’ve added a new experience.  They’ve kept the original in updated form, but it still involves an ancestor of Jean Luc Picard.  (With my hairline, everyone looked at me as the likely culprit.)

The new “ride” is The Borg Invasion.  If you’re not familiar with the Borg, here’s an introduction excerpted from the Wikipedia entry:

The Borg or Borg Collective is a race of cyborgs in the Star Trek fictional universe. They are known both within and beyond Star Trek fandom for their relentless pursuit of what they want to assimilate, their rapid adaptability to almost any defense, and their ability to continue functioning after what may seem a devastating or even fatal blow seemingly unaffected. As such, the Borg have become a powerful symbol in popular culture for any seemingly unstoppable force against which “resistance is futile”.

In The Borg Invasion, I was able to successfully resist assimilation, but legacy fieldbuses will be assimilated – by PROFINET, not the Borg.  One reason PROFINET is growing so rapidly is the ability to absorb existing fieldbuses of any age and present a uniform method to handle different fieldbuses in the same way.  Machinery controlled by Modbus, DeviceNet, PROFIBUS and others all look the same from the PROFINET tools!

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