PI North America General Assembly Meeting 2012

Our General Assembly Meeting was exhausting and exhilarating again this year.  It was exhausting preparing and participating, but exhilarating listening to the user presenters especially.

The keynote was delivered by Mike Bastian, Global Controls Manager for Ford Powertrain and represented an expanded version of the presentation he gave at the PROFINET Executive Leadership Forum.  (See the post PROFINET Executive Leadership Forum Day 2 for news references.)  Important benefits to Ford include:

  • Better control
  • Closer integration with IT
  • Improved throughputs
  • Better diagnostics
  • One network
  • Globally supported standard

Stefan Gallmann of Phoenix Contact’s Wind Energy organization showed how PROFINET is used to control wind turbines.  It was interesting to see the growth of wind turbines in capacity and size.  With that comes control complexity which PROFINET handles.  Safety, speed, security, and a redundant infrastructure were cited as important reasons to use PROFINET.

Jim Simmons of DuPont explained how PROFIBUS PA contributed to their new plant starting up 2-1/2 months ahead of schedule and $5,000,000 under capital budget.  The project did wind up using more than one network – PROFIBUS PA for the process devices, AS-interface for solenoid valves, and others.  Jim’s final conclusion and the money quote: “Any new control system installation should have to justify NOT using fieldbus technologies.”

John Elias of system integrator Prism Systems showed how they stepped in to update a steel roll handling system that was presenting maintenance issues.  As rolls were being transported down a tunnel, the existing microwave connection would lose alignment and therefore lose connectivity.  They replaced it with a wireless PROFINET system using “leaky coax” as the antenna.

Of course, the meeting was not just about networking controller to IO, but also about networking people to people.  This part was just as important as the formal program!

For other news from the meeting, see

Automation.com: Updates from PI North America Conference 2012

Feed Forward: A Tale of Two Conferences

Feed Forward: Finishing PI NA Conference News

–Carl Henning