From ABB Automation World, PROFIBUS and PROFINET

Sitting in another airport (Houston Bush) waiting for a plane delayed by weather, here’s my report from ABB Automation World:

Many of the industrial automation bloggers were here in Houston and they blogged about the conference.  You can find posts from Greg Hale, Walt Boyes, and Gary Mintchell.  Plus news items from others.  They provide a good overview of the overall conference, but my interest is much narrower.  So, I’ll focus here on the PROFIBUS and PROFINET news from ABB.

PROFIBUS is prominently featured in ABB’s architecture.  I attended several of the workshops presented by ABB personnel.  They give equal opportunity to PROFIBUS PA and Foundation Fieldbus for process instruments, working with the customer to help them determine the best choice.  In the comparison workshop they gave what I felt was a fair comparison between HART, FF, and PROFIBUS.  Their recommendations follow the lines you would expect: when the user wants “control in the field” they’ll go FF; when they have a large amount of discrete IO they’ll go PROFIBUS.   For discrete IO, PROFIBUS DP is clearly their first choice.  ABB goes to great lengths to certify third party devices to work with their systems.  In the process they provide a lot of value-add like documentation, GSD files, and more.  Over 350 PROFIBUS devices are thus provided for, more than for FF or HART.

Speaking of HART, I sat in on Ed Ladd’s workshop on WirelessHART.  Recall that PI and FF are cooperating with HART Communication Foundation (HCF) on a common gateway approach to wireless process instruments.  Score one for the users.  To think we almost did our own wireless process instrument spec.  Be thankful for the “almost.”  Speaking of wireless spec proliferation, I ran into Walt Boyes and he shared some of the tribulations with the ISA 100 effort.  Watch his blog for the latest on that topic.

ABB has an integration initiative that highlights the power of PROFINET.  (Well, it highlighted PROFINET to me, anyway.)  The initiative creates a common Industrial Ethernet architecture ranging from electrical substation equipment to process instruments with drives and discrete IO in between.  The Industrial Ethernet architecture includes FF HSE, a substation protocol, and PROFINET.  All coexist on a single network.  (That’s the beauty of Ethernet – on the wire many protocols can coexist – think web browsers, file downloads, and emails as a simplistic example.)  PROFINET covered the largest application area and its ability to use proxies to integrate other networks was relied upon.  ABB has already introduced drives with PROFINET IO connectivity, too.

I rate a conference based on the number of times they say one of my favorite “P” words (PROFIBUS or PROFINET).  This conference rates highly – even the WirelessHART presentation added to the count.

Speaking of the word PROFINET, Phoenix Contact did some video reporting from Hanover Fair.  They used the right word, too.