PROFINET Plugfest Report

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Ok, I’ll admit it: I was a skeptic about the North American plugfest. Could we get enough devices and controllers? Could we pull together a plugfest having never done one in North America?

I now know that the answers to both questions is “Yes!”

There were 6 controllers and 30 devices. Enough to keep us busy both days. We rotated devices among the controllers and on the last afternoon, put everything on one big network. Some of the devices had been through the test lab; some were nearing that point.

We made a matrix of controllers across the top and devices down the side. The junction got a green check mark when the combination was successfully tested. Not every junction got a check mark indicating that there were things to be learned. And that’s one reason to have a plugfest! Of course, two of the controllers were pre-release versions so expectations there were different from the released (and certified) controllers.

Companies represented were Balluff, Cisco, Hilscher, Innovasic, Molex, Mynah, Phoenix Contact, ProSoft, Siemens, Teledyne DALSA, TR Electronic, Turck, Yaskawa, and Lapp USA. It may seem strange to have Lapp cable on the list, but they volunteered to bring PROFINET cable and connectors so we could make cables if and when needed. We did need them!

The engineers who accompanied their products deserve special thanks for knowing their products, knowing PROFINET, and being collaborative and helpful to each other. It was reassuring to see them spontaneously move from controller to controller and help each other where needed. I was pleased to see the exchange of business cards and promises of product and resources to continue helping each other after the plugfest.

Highest accolades go to Phoenix Contact for hosting and the PROFI Interface Center (PIC) for providing the onsite technical expertise. Our hosts ran a couple controller stations and provided expertise as well. Kyle from the PIC had a separate troubleshooting station and test tools from the PI Test Lab he manages.

Everyone was there with the understanding that talking about anyone else’s products after the plugfest was forbidden and that they could take no photos in the plugfest. But we did pause long enough to take a group photo just before lunch on Day 1:

PROFINET_Plugfest_2016 (Medium)

If you’ve followed this blog for any time at all you know I love surveys. The results are still coming in, but so far all respondents agreed that the event met their expectations; 80% strongly agreed. There were also some good suggestions for improving next year’s plugfest. Yes, we will have another North American PROFINET Plugfest in 2017!

–Carl Henning

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