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Plugfests are also called InterOps (for InterOperate). They allow devices from many vendors to be attached to networks of various controllers. We have an upcoming PROFINET Plugfest.

But, wait, why is that necessary? All PROFINET products must be certified in a PI-accredited test lab and be granted a certificate from PI. Those test are extensive and exhaustive. Every product should interoperate after certification, right? Yes, and they do. But what happens when you take a product tested against just a few other devices (in the lab) and put it in a large network (in a user’s system)? That’s what the plugfest reveals.

Reports from a number of plugfests in Europe encouraged us to schedule the first North American Plugfest. In Europe participants discovered nuances of connecting to different controllers and in a very large network.

Such activities have led us to discover that there are times when a written specification can have multiple interpretations. Our reaction has been to write clarifying language into the PROFINET specification. These clarifications appear in Maintenance Updates to the spec – not changing the underlying communication protocol, but in unifying how the spec should be interpreted.

So, if you make PROFINET devices and they are already certified or nearly ready for certification testing, sign up for the free Plugfest in Ann Arbor, MI on August 3 and 4.

–Carl Henning

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