In War Everyone Loses, Unless…

In War Everyone Loses, Unless… it’s the “fieldbus wars.”  Greg Dixson of Phoenix Contact made the point that usually in war everyone loses, but in the fieldbus wars, if you picked one, you won.  This was in the one conference session I attended: Ethernet IO.  His point was that there are more similarities among the fieldbuses than between a fieldbus and point-to-point wiring.  Of course, I wholeheartedly agree with that view.  (Not that PROFIBUS and PROFINET aren’t the best of the fieldbus choices.  They are.)

I mustered less-than-agreement with the Opto22 presenter.  He described PROFIBUS and Foundation Fieldbus as quasi-open.  Quasi means “bears a resemblance to.”  PROFIBUS IS OPEN.  It was started by a consortium of 13 companies and 5 universities in 1987 and has been open ever since.  Now there are 1400 members of the global PROFIBUS and PROFINET organization: PI.  He also said PROFINET is PROFIBUS over Ethernet.  Argh!  Check out the facts here.  I guess that’s not “less-than-agreement;” that’s “disagreement.”  One good point about Industrial Ethernet he made is one we all too often ignore: multiple different applications can run over Industrial Ethernet at the same time.  Yes, you can run PROFINET and email and web browsers etc. all at the same time on Ethernet.  In fact, you can run Modbus/TCP, Ethernet/IP, and PROFINET at the same time.

I got a report from one other session.  Mike Aldridge presented PROFIsafe in the process industry in the same session with Foundation Fieldbus presenting on FF safety.  Mike A was presenting since Mike B had a cold and was without voice.  (If you know Mike B, you know this being without voice is not a happy place for him.)  One big difference between the PROFIBUS and FF presentations: the tense.  PROFIBUS used the past tense; FF, future tense.  PROFIBUS has installations; FF has plans.

I was not at the EXPO for Day 3 (more on that later), but I hear it followed the usual pattern.