ABB Worlds of PROFI

I’m on my flight back home from Orlando and ABB Automation and Power World.  There was lots of news about PROFIBUS and PROFINET there.  The trade press covers the general news, so I’ll fill in the fieldbus and PROFI news.


At last year’s conference, ABB talked about a concept to use Industrial Ethernet across power and industrial applications.  The concept included IEC 61850 (a power industry protocol), Fieldbus Foundation’s HSE, and PROFINET.  This year they showed the real thing using IEC 61850 and PROFINET.  ControlGlobal reported on this from Stefan Bollmeyer’s presentation in their article “Integrating Process and Power for Fun and Profit”.  But they left out the really good parts – the parts about PROFIBUS and PROFINET.  ABB’s Jeffrey Vasel gave me a tour of the exhibit; he did use my favorite P-words!  Here is that tour in video: ABB showing PROFIBUS and PROFINET


This consolidation extends to the DCS; here’s a look at that capability: ABB’s DCS with PROFIBUS and PROFINET 


ABB’s drives have long used PROFIBUS and last year showed PROFINET connectivity as well.  There was more of that this year, including on the tee shirt making machine and handling robot.  Video: ABB Tee Shirt Maker with PROFIBUS


ABB’s PROFINET PLC.  After attending my Introduction to PROFIBUS and PROFINET session, one of the ABB guys invited me to see their brand new PROFINET PLC.  They were using it in one of their workshops, so I got the chance to see the PLC and their PROFINET IO and video it:  ABB PROFINET PLC and IO


At the press conference preceding the PI 20th anniversary Technical Conference earlier this month, PI announced our direction for wireless actuators and sensors; in other words, wireless for discrete manufacturing.  Based on the need for faster response times than in process applications, IEEE 802.15.1 was chosen.  Work on the specification has begun based on IO-Link and ABB’s WISA technology.  Roaming the ABB exhibit hall, I found a small panel depicting their WISA technology.  I got a short introduction.  I’m not sure what parts we’ll be adopting (I’ll learn more about that next month at Hanover Fair), but what ABB has is very intriguing.  Their sensors require no power.  The prox switches draw their power from the antenna.  (This reminds me of passive RFID technology where the RFID chip requires no power.)


ABB once again presented a fair comparison of PROFIBUS/PROFINET, Foundation Fieldbus, and HART.  In the back row with me were Bill Tatum of FF and Ed Ladd and Ron Helson of HART.  We all agreed on ABB’s fairness.  Bill wished we had a camera to capture the four of us chatting after the session.  Alas, we did not.


I also attended Bill’s session on FF.  I wanted to get caught up on some of their new initiatives.  Bill’s conclusion was use FF or use PROFIBUS, but use a fieldbus!  We agree on the last exhortation; we just differ “slightly” on which one to use.


Ed Ladd presented WirelessHART in his session.  Since we work with HART in a number of initiatives, I wanted to stay up to date.  Afterwards, Ron Helson filled me in on some of the latest progress towards WirelessHART gateways for PROFIBUS and PROFINET (with a little help from an ABB fellow who is in the Working Group).  HART Communication Foundation and PI have previously worked together to create the HART/PROFIBUS gateway and the HART/PROFINET proxy specifications.


My session was unremarkable except for two things.  After some PROFI questions, I was asked about a competing technology and did not bash it!  Of course, I never try to bash, but I’ve learned to be careful not to let my “humor” give that impression.  After the session, one of the attendees, a Wonderware distributor, came up to re-introduce himself.  He said that the best PowerPoint joke he ever saw was in a presentation I did back in 2000 at a sales conference, just after I moved to Canada to head up Wonderware’s  Avantis business unit.  It was visual so it would lose something if I tried to describe it, but it is a little frightening that he remembered it.  Hmm, maybe my humor is ok after all?


My colleagues are in Greenville, SC today for the PROFIBUS in the Process Industries class there.  I expect to have a report tomorrow on how that went for the 70 attendees.  I hope to see you at one of our free one-day training classes.



Note: I actually edited the video clips this time instead of just posting whatever I shot.