“Strength. Scope. Power.” That’s the tagline for one of our landing pages on www.allthingsprofinet.com. See: www.allthingsprofinet.com/ssp
Each word summarizes unique benefits of using PROFINET and the differentiating features that support them. Allow me to explain.
When we say “strength” we are talking about the strength of the PROFIBUS and PROFINET technologies and the international PI organization that backs them. Of all fieldbus installations, PROFIBUS is used in 54% of them and PROFINET comes from that same stable, so to speak. PI has cultivated a rich community of vendors (500+ different products for PROFINET alone) and users. Many different vendors have contributed their knowledge and time to build an army of 500 experts in ~50 Working Groups that develop the protocol. All of this comes about because PROFINET is standardized and completely open. Here in North America, we are the responsible association, but there are 26 other associations just like ourselves, scattered about the globe. We summarize it on the landing page as: “PROFINET is the global standard fueling automation innovation.”
No, not the mouthwash. Scope in this case means breadth and depth. PROFINET covers the scope of applications required by industrial automation. Starting with simple I/O, all the way to advanced motion control and everything in between, PROFINET does it. Whether that means wireless, or safety, or even energy management (with PROFIenergy), it all falls within the scope. But if that’s the depth, then the breadth is integrating horizontally and vertically. Horizontal integration is performed by easily bringing machines into one network. Vertical integration, on the other hand is upwards into MES and office systems but also downwards. To integrate downwards we use PROFINET’s unique ‘proxy’ concept which specifies how data is incorporated from legacy fieldbuses (like PROFIBUS, INTERBUS, etc.) to preserve investments in those existing technologies. Under Scope we say: “A feature rich solution in a single network backbone.”
What isn’t talked about enough in my opinion is just how powerful PROFINET is. Many control engineers and plant managers are starting to see the power of an open network that can increase throughput and uptime. With high throughput come high speeds. In addition to the existing IRT (Isochronous Real Time) nature of PROFINET, the latest version supports cycle times down to 31.25µs. This is done through some very novel approaches; see “How Did PROFINET Get a Speed Upgrade,” where the included video says it all. Meanwhile uptime is maximized through (among other things) powerful diagnostics. These diagnostics leverage the tools available for Ethernet. And since PROFINET is based on standard Ethernet, the abilities to use these tools convey. This is not a subtle point, because being based on standard Ethernet means that regular traffic (TCP/IP, UDP, etc.) can coexist on the same wire.
Our efforts are not limited to the digital world however. We’ve been running a series of promotions in Automation World magazine. Perhaps you’ve seen them. They feature the ‘Strength Scope Power’ tagline followed by a user story. Their story highlights what each of these words in the tagline mean to them. Plus, it gives everyone an easy way to relate. What better way than through an independent, first-hand account?