Developing a PROFINET Product

There are so many choices of ways to add PROFINET to an automation device that it is difficult to know where to start.  Where to start depends on:

  • Existing design
  • Type of product
  • Quantities expected
  • Time to market needed

For a product with an existing Ethernet controller, a PROFINET software stack can be added.  This can be written from scratch by reading the spec (not recommended) or buying a stack from one of the many stack providers. For a product being designed from the ground up, there are choices depending on expected quantity and time to market.  In decreasing order of complexity, the choices are:

  1. Chip
  2. Standard Ethernet controller plus stack
  3. Board/module
  4. External gateway

This order holds true for both decreasing expected sales quantity and time to market (complexity). On the other hand, this ordering represents increasing cost to implement.  All the choices can be accomplished to support PROFINET and other networks.

Maybe it’s less confusing with a table instead of words:




chip Chip (ASIC or FPGA) dollar-sign plus-sign4
stack-profinetEthernet-controller Standard Ethernet controller + stack dollar-sign2 plus-sign3
board-module2 Board/module dollar-sign3 plus-sign2
gateway Gateway dollar-sign4 plus-sign

Whichever way you go, please note that PROFINET products must be certified. For details, view our 19-minute webinar A Guide to PROFINET Product Certification. If you are uncertain if this applies to your product, the deciding factor is: “Does it need a GSD file?”  The GSD file, written in XML, defines the unique parameters, values, and alarms for your product.

There are no administrative hoops to jump through. Unlike some other Industrial Ethernets, there is no contract to sign or royalties to pay.

What’s next? There are many resources to help you in adding PROFINET to your product. We offer an archived webinar, the Rapid Way to PROFINET that presents the PROFINET Product Design Cycle. We also offer in-person Developer classes. Class attendance is limited to a single company and is regularly scheduled after our PROFINET Certified Network Engineer classes in Johnson City, TN.  They can also be held at your facility.  In either case, they are tailored to your situation.

Or, even better, call us; we’re here to help.

–Carl Henning