Growth of PROFINET and the PI Organization

A report from the 21st PI international meeting in Krakow, Poland:

PI Chairman, Joerg Freitag reported that PROFIBUS growth may be flat this year, an anomaly due to the economy.  But despite the economy, PROFINET continues to grow.

Speaking of growth, there are currently 25 Regional PI Associations (RPAs) with India in planning as #26 and interest in a 27th (it’s too early to reveal where).

During our joint meeting with the PI Competence Centers (PICCs), we learned that we are now up to 42 PICCs and 16 PI Training Centers (PITCs).  The PICCs provide network support to users and developers all around the globe.  Considering that none of the other fieldbus technologies have even the concept of such widespread centers of technical expertise, the number 42 is astounding.

Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, and Poland presented their accomplishments for the year.  All seemed to be involved in exhibitions although I got the sense that the importance of exhibitions was fading.  PTO stopped attending trade shows in North America due to the diminished attendance.  Instead we put our efforts into local free training classes.  Several RPAs have close ties to universities and that was also subject of a separate discussion: how can we help professors with resources for teaching fieldbuses, especially PROFIBUS and PROFINET.

The Danish RPA report included an anecdote about a drive supplier: The drive supplier currently supports both PROFIBUS and DeviceNet and is moving to Industrial Ethernet.  They decided to implement Ethernet/IP first because PROFIBUS was already fast enough for them while DeviceNet was not.  (A quick comparison: PROFIBUS runs at up to 12 Mbaud, DeviceNet to 0.5 Mbaud.  PROFIBUS telegrams are 244 bytes, DeviceNet, 8 bytes.  Factor in the greater number of devices available plus its application space including process and discrete and it’s easy to see why PROFIBUS has the largest installed base while DeviceNet is in third place.)

The German and US RPAs presented their marketing plans with an eye to providing other RPAs with ideas.  All of the RPAs had a few minutes to share the goings-on in their regions, too.

We spent some time talking about our own infrastructure – the tools we use for internal communications.  We did a workshop on the new international website, too.  We are pleased with the underlying technology of the site, but found areas where navigation and content needed work.  We knew this would be an ongoing project when we started a year ago and this helped us identify how to continue.

New documents and documents for review were presented.  This is a good time to remind PTO members to subscribe to the PTO Members Monthly Newsletter in order to keep up with new documents, calls for experts, and documents for review.

Although “Getting there was half the fun” did not apply to the journey, the meeting and the networking were very worthwhile.  Now I’m back in the office until the Boston PROFINET one-day training class.  That same week, Manny will be in Davenport, Iowa for a PROFIBUS class.  We hope to see you there or one of our other classes!

-Carl Henning