Will PROFIBUS Ever Die? Expanded Post.

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Perhaps some explanation of the “no” answer is in order:

PROFIBUS can’t be killed no matter what. The installed base is too big (the biggest of any serial fieldbus) and it continues to grow every year. We continue to see manufacturers add PROFIBUS to their automation products. Companies with PROFIBUS installed continue to add more PROFIBUS.

It’s important to remember that PROFIBUS comes on two physical layers even though it’s only one protocol. PROFIBUS DP is Granite Tombstonefor factory automation, discrete automation, things that go clickity-clack. It’s based on RS485 and power is provided over separate wires. PROFIBUS PA is for process automation (hence, the imaginative PA name). It is based on Manchester-encoded, bus powered (MBP). So power arrives over the same wires that carry the digital communications. Power that is low enough to not cause a spark in an explosive atmosphere; in other words, it’s “intrinsically safe.” So PROFIBUS PA for process automation has even more staying power.

That said, PROFINET is replacing PROFIBUS DP. More and more users are choosing PROFINET over PROFIBUS DP. So PROFINET is also growing. However, there is no standard for Ethernet to be “intrinsically safe” like PROFIBUS PA. You can’t land an Ethernet connection in an explosive atmosphere. No problem though: PROFINET can still be used as a backbone and PROFIBUS PA can be integrated via a proxy. (A proxy is like a gateway, but is defined in the PROFINET specification.)

So, will PROFIBUS ever die? No!

–Carl Henning

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