PROFINET Executive Leadership Forum Day 2

Day 2 of the PROFINET Executive Leadership Forum featured presentations from

  • Raj Batra, President, Industry Automation Division at Siemens
  • Bernie Anger, General Manager Control and Communication Systems at GE Intelligent Platforms
  • Michael Bastian, Controls Manager at Ford Motor Company (Powertrain Division)
  • Joerg Freitag, Chairman of PI
  • Tom Koulopoulos

The press has already reported in depth on these presentations, but I’ll add my take-aways:

Raj talked about “The Era of Big Data.”  Bernie added that you should record all data… even if you don’t know what you will do with it… you will eventually find a use for it.  When I was involved with historians we would have been nervous about that concept, but 10 years have passed since then.  Tom had a lot to say about data and interconnectedness too.

Raj also introduced the need for flexibility.  No longer does one line make one product.  Mike Bastian expanded on that in talking about Ford’s requirements.  Their major strategic initiatives were “global standardization, flexibility, and acceleration.”  When Mike saw the hodgepodge of automation systems and networks, he knew that standardization was needed.  His boss was even more vociferous in that need; he wanted everything standardized down to the lead in the pencil that signed off on the standards!  Mike’s example of flexibility was a transmission line that had to make two different transmissions.  The time frame for introducing new products is being compressed so project acceleration rounds out the Ford initiatives.  And if they add a third transmission to replace an existing one, the line cannot be out of service for the transition.

Standardization permeated many of the presentations.  Raj talked about PROFINET as the backbone of TIA.  Mike Bastian noted that having standardized on PROFINET, they told their suppliers that they must use PROFINET.  Bernie elaborated on GE’s reasons to standardize on PROFINET: Performance, Robustness, and Ecosystem.  Performance of one millisecond updates for thousands of nodes.  Robustness from redundant media (and bumpless changeover), rich diagnostics, and device replacement with no software needed.  The Ecosystem includes support tools, support organization, many products from many vendors, and application profiles.  Application profiles provide a means of organizing data without impacting the communications protocol.

My favorite quote from Bernie Anger: “Automation is a great enabler of competitiveness.”

The press contingent at the Forum has already begun to report on the event.  Here’s what’s out there so far (with more to come):

Travis Hessman in Industry Week: 3 Key Factors in Manufacturing Success

Peter Welander in Control Engineering: Are there too many industrial networking protocols? (with video)

Dave Greenfield in Automation World: Why GE Intelligent Platforms Chose Profinet

Bill Lydon at Manufacturing Innovation discussed at PROFINET Executive Leadership Forum

Keith Larson at Control Design: Profinet Gathers Momentum as Single Manufacturing Network

–Carl Henning