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PI North America will be at ARC's Industry Forum next week
FDI, the unifying solution for device integration, approaches IEC Standard status
A hand-held calibrator saves time and effort at a chemicals plant
15 more chances countrywide to learn about PROFINET
The next opportunity to join one of our week-long certified engineer classes is in March
Kyle McMillan of the PROFI Interface Center explains how to get it "right first time"
An aerospace plant deploys up to 50 AGVs simultaneously
Over 100 articles are now online for reading anytime, anywhere
PROFIblog notes another 20th anniversary; LinkedIn pulsates with PROFIBUS and PROFINET
Certified Network Training debuts in South East Asia; a UK PICC publishes a new PROFIBUS reference book
A low cost way to connect Modbus serial devices to PROFINET; AS-i Safety under PROFIsafe

PROFINET: DRIVING THE MANUFACTURING RENAISSANCE: See PI North America at the Eighteenth Annual ARC Industry Forum, February 10-13, Orlando. We are sponsoring a track entitled "Enabling the Information Driven Enterprise," which is based on the role PROFINET can play in the resurgence of manufacturing in North America. PROFINET is feature-laden and can support productivity enhancers like: comprehensive diagnostics; functional safety; drives support; and intelligent energy management. Visit the ARC Forum website to view the agenda and our Thursday morning PROFINET sessions.

FDI TO REACH THE MARKET BY 2015? PROFINEWS Editor Geoff Hodgkinson reports on latest developments in the saga to find a single device integration solution to unify two existing technologies.

FDI products could reach the market by 2015, says FDI Cooperation Executive Director Achim Laubenstein of ABB. The first public specification has been published and handed over to the IEC for targeted inclusion in the soon-to-emerge IEC Standard 61769.

FDI, or Field Device Integration, aims to deliver a single, unified answer to the vexing presence of two technologies that dominate the world of device engineering, integration and management - EDD and FDT. Both have their supporters and users are faced with making a choice of one or the other, or both. Device vendors face the same choices, and the result is extra costs all round in terms of skills, personnel, complexities and so on if that decision is wrongly made.

PI is one of five automation Foundations who got together in 2011 under the banner of "FDI Cooperation", to see if that single, unified solution could be achieved.  Last November, at a press conference in Germany, it was revealed that the specification has been published and handed over to the IEC as a proposed international Standard.  The IEC is currently organizing a CDV, or Committee Draft for Vote, which seeks technical responses from global experts to this first FDI specification. A demo system based on products from six vendors was shown (pictured above left).

Laubenstein (left) told PROFINEWS that normal procedure after that is for the CDV responses to be integrated into a revised specification. Further voting may be necessary but the eventual outcome will be a vote to agree FDI as IEC 61769.  Laubenstein thinks this could happen around the end of 2014. He said: "With the publication of the specifications, FDI has reached a major milestone. I am looking forward to seeing enhanced FDI Development Tools in 2014 that enable manufacturers to start implementing FDI-based products in readiness for publication of the Standard."

FDI Chairman Hans-Georg Kumpfmueller of Siemens (right) said that, with FDI, device integration will be "easier, predictable and consistent."  But, he emphasized, achieving the Standard is not the end game. "FDI will be developed further during the maintenance phases. Our wish list is long and you can expect additional features such as more protocols and easier testing."  FDI COOPERATION.

Read the full story in the PROFINEWS+, the app you should not be without.  Find out how to get it HERE.


CALIBRATOR SPEEDS 3,300 PROFIBUS LOOP CHECKS: The BASF facility in Wyandotte, MI, manufactures Joncryl, the trade name for several hundred different polymers used in the coatings industry. Over 200,000 tons of polymers, oligomers, and resin cuts are produced annually. The company began construction of a new resins plant at the beginning of 2008 and CH2M Hill was selected as the agency to engineer, procure, and manage the project. Today it contains over 3,300 PROFIBUS PA devices on more than 250 segments. Jim Garrison, CH2M Hill I&C Engineer, sought a device to aid calibration. He had two requirements: the first was for a device that was separate from the DCS, to enable proper monitoring of the PA segments; the second was for a device able to set or modify an instrument's PA address in the field without needing a laptop and an external power supply. Jim and his team chose the Beamex MC5 multifunction calibrator and developed a five-stage procedure for testing devices before the DCS was installed. Jim acknowledges that this may seem duplicative. However, he found it made the full loop checks much faster and troubleshooting much easier. “I would estimate the savings in troubleshooting time and gain in loop check efficiency to be in the order of several man-weeks,” Jim states.  During instances when they needed to move a device from one segment to another, the MC5 was also utilizedemployed. This frequently required the technician to change the address of the instrument to avoid conflicts with devices on the new segment. Since the MC5 can provide power to an instrument, the team was able to disconnect the instrument from the field distribution box and connect the MC5 to the device's spur cable. Then, communication with the device and modification of the address from an easily accessible location prior to connecting the device to the new segment was completed. All in all, CH2M Hill utilized the Beamex MC5 to save money and time, and increase efficiency for the largest installation of PROFIBUS in North America. BEAMEX

ONE-DAY PROFINET TRAINING CLASSES: This year PI North America is focusing on PROFINET and there are 15 one-day training classes to choose from. Class enhancements this year include more demos, more practical examples, new content, and a new sequence. For an idea of the venues see our map left. For city details see below:



We're in San Diego today! 02/04/2014
Birmingham 2/18/2014
Houston 3/6/2014
Greenville 3/19/2014
Dayton 4/2/2014
Boston 4/16/14
Kansas City 4/30/14
Milwaukee 5/15/14
Cleveland 6/5/14
Philadelphia 6/19/14
Nashville 9/9/14
Las Vegas October
Detroit 10/22/14
Portland 11/4/14
Salt Lake City 11/18/14
San Jose December

Or, visit our training page. More dates may be firm by the time you read this.

CERTIFIED NETWORK ENGINEER TRAINING: The next opportunity to join one of our week-long Certified Engineer classes is in March. See our table below for details and the other dates in 2014. Those delegates who pass the test after attending a class achieve "Certified Engineer" status and are officially listed on the PI website. For details, click on the Monday start dates below. Attendances have been peaking recently and you are recommended to book early.




March 3 March 24 May 12
June 9 August 11 June 16*
September 15   November 3
December 8    

Classes are held in Johnson City, TN, unless asterisked (those are held in Peterborough, ON.) Onsite classes can be arranged. Contact

HOW DO I CERTIFY A PROFINET DEVICE? Kyle McMillan of the PROFI Interface Center in Johnson City explains the procedure and offers tips for getting it "right first time."

So you've developed a PROFINET device, and now comes the moment of truth: “How can I take this device and get it approved, and how long is it going to take?” Well, the first part of that question is a lot easier to answer than the second. The PROFI Interface Center has a whole page devoted to the certification process, but I'll go over the highlights here.

  • Join PI and get your Vendor ID.  Coordinate with whatever internal control system your company has established to get a Device ID.  These numbers are critical for keeping track of your device through the certification process.
  • Pre-test your device.  PI offers the same software the test labs use to its member companies free of charge.  Download it and run the test cases against your device.  If you have questions, you can contact any PROFINET Competence Center for help. (**Pre-testing is critical to insure a smooth session at the PI Test Lab, and that's why most test labs can offer a pre-test if you don't have the resources available.**)
  • Apply for a PROFINET Device Test with the PROFINET Test Lab of your choice.  Each lab has its own set of procedures, but in general, they will need to know:
    - Your PI-issued Vendor ID and Device ID
    - The Conformance Class you've chosen to adhere to
    - Any Profiles you've implemented (PROFIdrive, PROFIenergy, etc)
  • At the end of the Device Test, the test lab will issue a test report on your device; a successful report will recommend your device for certification.  You then submit that report, along with your certification application, to PI.  PI will then issue your certification.

So, it's easy, right?  But how long does it take to move through this process?  I can't give you definite answers, but here's how it usually breaks down:

  • You have two different organizations involved, the Test Lab and PI.
  • Lead time on a test can vary, usually between two weeks and two months, while the device test itself will take about a week (complex devices will require more time).  
  • Moving the test report through PI and getting a certificate will take a matter of weeks, depending on the number of devices in PI's queue.

I'm a test lab guy, and I rarely get the chance to see this process from an external point of view.  For those of you that have gone through this process, does this jive with your experiences?

Kyle McMillan, PROFI Interface Center.
Find other Test Labs here

PROFINET TRIPLES AGV COUNT: To watch a Fori Automation Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) operate is to witness an engineering marvel: Steadily moving at up to two feet per second across the floor of an aerospace manufacturer's cavernous production facility, one carries a 30-ton, 60-foot-long wing frame for a commercial jet aircraft to its assembly point. With the payload worth several million, the AGV must be controlled precisely, which it is - to within five millimeters. And with workers walking all around, it must operate safely. According to Greg Stegner, Fori Automation controls project leader, synchronizing the control and operation of a large number of AGVs at the same time on one production floor gets complicated quickly. "The AGVs typically move through large plant spaces doing different tasks with workers all around," he says. "It's not just the floor configuration that AGVs have to navigate but drawbridges, overhead cranes and other elevated fixtures. Plus they must constantly communicate with other plant systems, and never be interrupted." Stegner wanted to consolidate the communications and control onto a single wireless local area network (WLAN) and chose to deploy a PROFINET-based industrial wireless LAN. PROFINET uses TCP/IP for non-time-critical communications but adds deterministic channels to achieve real-time communications down to 31.25 microseconds. This was critical to Fori's requirement that wireless communications among all AGVs in any given deployment - up to 50 in all - be uninterruptible. PROFIsafe was also deployed. The solution's overarching architecture comprises three layers: the AGV control layer; the plant coordinator layer that plays "traffic cop"; and the plant's IT systems. Both safety and control devices communicate via PROFINET to a managed switch that's connected to a wireless client. This onboard client then communicates over the 5GHz spectrum to fixed-mounted access points (APs), which are IP65-rated and located at regular intervals throughout the plant, usually in the rafters or ceilings. Stegner found the PROFINET network easy to set up. "You open a browser and follow a series of wizards. I was able to get it up and running in a couple hours on my own." Stegner says that Fori Automation can now deploy as many as 50 AGVs across a single plant, almost three times as many as previously, which brings much greater flexibility. An important corollary benefit is that industrial and plant engineers can think differently about plant floor layouts. "If they have no constraints they can optimize for maximum output and they can modify floor plans much more quickly when required." Stegner adds that the seamless interoperability of the PROFINET components dramatically reduces the time needed by Fori Automation's engineers to design, engineer and test customers' AGV solutions, especially customized ones. FORI

HAVE YOU READ PROFINEWS+? Over 100 articles are now online in the PROFINEWS+ App. It can be downloaded free of charge for iOS and Android devices from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Many articles are extended versions of the stories you read here, enabling you to learn even more about PROFIBUS and PROFINET while on the go. PROFINEWS+ has more pictures+more news+more information and is updated continuously for reading anytime, anywhere. If you're a PI member, you can publish product and company news in it free of charge, and quickly and easily reach a global audience.

20 years of achievement: PROFIblog has noted that 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of PI North America, or the PROFIBUS Trade Organization as it was originally called. Chief blogger Carl Henning adds some historical background and tries to predict the next 20 years. Another recent blog deals with the 7-layer model on which networks like PROFINET are based. "It's a touch geeky," admits Carl, but useful if you like to know more about the underlying technology. Read PROFIblog.

LinkedIn: There's plenty of action on LinkedIn for the PROFIBUS and PROFINET communities. Check this address and search for "PROFIBUS and PROFINET" Groups. You're bound to find something of interest.

Twitter: Carl Henning also tweets regularly about automation topics @AllThingsPROFI. He has 700 followers. Check him out here.

AUSTRALIA: PROFIBUS Australia ended 2013 with its "biggest and best" one-day Forum and Technical Exhibition. They also invited nine experts from the industry's leading protocols to participate in a ‘Fieldbus Forum'!  AUSTRALIA

BRAZIL: A PROFIBUS/PROFINET User Meeting included presentations of the TRANSPETRO petrochemical plant and the SAMARCO mining company. Paolo Ferrari from the PROFIBUS and PROFINET Competence Center in Italy spoke on the latest PROFINET developments.  BRAZIL

DENMARK: The Danish PROFIBUS Organization has held a 2-day training session for PROFINET. A one-day information session was followed by a day-long “plug-party.” Kai Atle Myrvang of ADE in Norway presented. DENMARK

GERMANY: Three PROFINET Technology Workshops are being organized in 2014. PI is also offering a Certified PROFIsafe Designer Training class. GERMANY

MIDDLE EAST: ASM Saudi Arabia has been accredited as a PROFINET Competence Center. MIDDLE EAST

SOUTH EAST ASIA: PI South East Asia organized its first-ever PROFINET Certified Training Course in January. SOUTH EAST ASIA

UK: Manchester Metropolitan University has published a new book covering guidelines and good practice for installing PROFIBUS. Get it from Amazon

LOW COST MODBUS TO PROFINET INTERFACE: PROFINET XPort allows existing Modbus serial products to be converted into PROFINET IO products with minimal hardware changes and possibly no firmware changes either. With an integrated RJ45 PROFINET connector, PROFINET XPort provides quick time to market in the smallest of packages and at low cost. The list price is $55 USD.  GRID CONNECT

AS-i SAFETY UNDER PROFIsafe: These AS-i 3.0 Gateways for PROFIsafe allow you to configure terminals as inputs (OSSD or potential-free), or as 6 safety outputs plus 3 safety 2-channel inputs, or as 6 safety 2-channel inputs, or as standard I/Os – or any combination of the above! Other features include reading of safety inputs via PROFIsafe and switching of safety AS-i outputs de-centrally via PROFIsafe. The AS-i Master handles up to 31 safety or 248 standard I/Os (or a combination thereof). BIHL+WIEDEMANN

DIAGNOSTIC SOFTWARE CREATES TOPOLOGY PRINTOUTS: New versions of the TH SCOPE and TH LINK "diagnostic solutions" have been announced. The topology of a PROFINET network can now be documented as a PDF printout to make the structure of large device networks visible in a graphical format. Reports on production network status for both PROFIBUS and PROFINET are available using SNMP. And there's an improved user interface for TH LINK. TREBING+HIMSTEDT

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