Hanover Fair 2008: More news

The big news related to PROFIBUS and PROFINET (and maybe for the show over all) was the continuing growth of the PROFIBUS and PROFINET fieldbuses.  What the numbers were and meant were in an earlier post.  The other topics from the PI press conference included:

The news: IO-Link Integration into PROFIBUS and PROFINET

The gist: IO-Link is a fieldbus-independent connectivity method for intelligent sensors.  It is designed to bridge the last meter between an IO block and the device while using conventional wiring for the sensor but superimposing a digital communications means over the conventional wiring.  This allows configuration and diagnostics actions to be initiated remotely from an engineering station instead of with a handheld tool at the sensor.

The significance: Sensor makers are rapidly adopting this technology and many products were shown in the sensor manufacturers’ booths.  PROFIBUS and PROFINET are the first fieldbuses to have connectivity to IO-Link and many brands of IO blocks (IO-Link masters) were shown with PROFIBUS or PROFINET connectivity.  MESCO offers an IO-Link toolkit and Hilscher offers a netX-chip-based reference design for the masters.  I introduced you to IO-Link a couple years ago and it had been interesting watching it mature.  Judging from what I saw in Hanover, its time is now.

The news: International Cooperation

The gist: PI has been engaged with other, competing organizations to unify supporting technologies to the benefit of the end user.  The EDDL Cooperation Team (ECT) dates back some years and last year added the initiative to create a successor to EDDL and FDT that satisfies requirements for both.  This leaves the device manufacturers with only one standard to support and the user with only one technology to learn.  The ECT consists of PI, Fieldbus Foundation (FF), HART Communication Foundation (HCF), OPC Foundation, and the FDT Group.  A more recent cooperative team is the Wireless Cooperation Team (WCT).  It is actively working toward unified approaches to wireless process devices.  The WCT includes PI, FF, and HCF.

The significance: Not all technology consortiums are as forward thinking as PI in recognizing the importance of simplifying the life of the end user.  A user should ask: “Can I safely choose a fieldbus whose organization is not participating is such a cooperative effort?”

Now I’m off to the airport for the long flight home.  More news will follow after I land.