It Works Better If You Plug It In

profinetThis is a guest post from Volker Goller, European Manager, Real-Time Ethernet Solutions for PI North America member Innovasic.

Many years ago I had the pleasure to work with a British engineer. He loved to add some sentence of wisdom to the credentials of the programs he wrote. One phrase, and to me the best ever, was: “It works better if you plug it in.” He had placed this message into the credentials of an operating system he was maintaining. You would not believe how many people actually checked the cabling on their machines when it showed up! Despite the fact that when the machine showed those credentials, everything must have been plugged in correctly before!

Anyway, this sentence came back into my mind in the middle of June. It was PROFINET plugfest time! And you better check if all the cables are plugged in correctly before you start debugging your code!

Our friend Frithjof Klasen, professor at the AIT institute and member of board at PI, had invited the PROFINET community to the scenic little town of Gummersbach. Gummers-what? Well, small town, but it hosts some institutes of the University of Applied Science Cologne – including the AIT.

The PROFINET plugfest has been a great success story since the first plugfest two years ago. It’s an outstanding opportunity to test your devices against controllers and devices from many different vendors. Yes, we are all certified. But still, reality can be a beast and despite all system testing and stricter and stricter certification processes, there can and will be some surprises once you plug your stuff together once in a while. And it’s far better that this shows up at a plugfest, where there is a lot of competence gathered to figure it out, than that it shows up in a production plant in the middle of nowhere.

The key to the Plugfest success is that all the findings and all the technology that’s new and hot are kept as a secret. That way the plugfest is a great opportunity to actually work with your competitors latest and greatest to figure issues and – in the end – create a better user experience for the PROFINET end user as the interoperability gets better and better. For us at Innovasic, it was the variety of controllers at the plugfest that made it so attractive. When else do you have the opportunity to working closely and peacefully with your competition?

Well, I am the German guy at Innovasic, so it was obvious I would go. But also our engineers from Innovasic’s Albuquerque, NM, headquarters made the long trip to Gummersbach. It’s worth the effort!

And well, it all did not only work because we plugged it in…

BTW: Thanks to Frithjof Klasen for his hospitality and to the never-resting Xaver Schmidt for managing the plugfest!

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