Happy Birthday to Us

PI_NA_20-Year-LogoPI North America is celebrating our 20th year. Founded in 1994 as PROFIBUS Trade Organization we shortened our name to PTO when PROFINET came along. Then a couple years ago we changed our name to PI North America to more closely identify with our sister organizations around the world. PI is the international organization and the Regional PI Associations have PI in their names. When PI started 25 years ago, PI stood for “PROFIBUS International.” Today we say that PI stands for “PROFIBUS and PROFINET International.” Yes, I know it looks like there’s only one P. But considering how PROFINET can be on top of PROFIBUS, I think there are two P’s in PI, one on top of the other. (Yes, I know the word “rationalization.”)

The expected thing to do now is to reminisce about the last 20 years. And there will be plenty of that. But it’s challenging to look forward to PI North America’s next 20 years. Hard to imagine the environment then, too. Will everything be wireless? Even power? Or maybe everything will be on fiber, even power. I’m betting on copper though. I’m also betting that there will still be plenty of PROFINET and PROFIBUS as we know them today! After all, you can still find pneumatic control in plants today. So in 20 years will we have the Internet of Things OR the Internet of nano-things? Or maybe the PROFINET of factory things? What about Big Data? Does it become distributed data? I don’t know. Even those who say they know, don’t know.

What I do know is the past. So maybe I can work in a little reminiscing… It seems like only yesterday, but it was October 10, 1994 and I started a new job. I had used Wonderware software and now I was working for them; specifically on Wonderware IO Servers. After I got my computer and Wonderware coffee mug, I got the tour so I would know where the free stuff in the kitchen was and where the gym was. (For some reason I was never able to find the gym after that.) The other memorable event of my first day was a call from Mike Bryant explaining why Wonderware should be a member of the PROFIBUS Trade Organization.

Mike insisted that our software had to connect to PROFIBUS so we should be in his organization. He was right, but it took me longer than my first day to figure that out. It took a couple weeks… until I met Mike at the ISA show in Anaheim. At that time he convinced me that I should represent Wonderware on the PROFIBUS Trade Organization Board of Directors. So I did. For the next 6 years. Then a job change to SVP and GM of the Avantis Business Unit took me out of the PROFIBUS world. (I still made it to all the General Assembly Meetings though.) Fast forward to 2005. Mike calls again. This time to convince me to work for PTO and evangelize PROFINET. I accepted. And here I am today.

–Carl Henning