PROFINET: Stable and Changing

Stability and Change do not have to be mutually exclusive.  When such a dichotomy is presented I am reminded of Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras.  They make the point “No ‘Tyranny of the or’ (embrace the ‘genius of the and’)”.  And so it is with the genius of PROFINET: It is stable and changing.

PROFINET is stable.  Version 2.3 of the PROFINET specification was completed some years ago.  It defines the communication protocol – What do the bits and bytes look like on the wire (or wireless for that matter).  What commands are used.  What data gets moved.  In other words, it’s all about the communications, the protocol.

PROFINET is changing.  While the underlying communications protocol is stable, on top of (and independent of) the communications protocol are application profiles.  “Application profile” is PROFI-speak for objects that arrange the data being communicated.  By arranging the data in a consistent fashion the sender and the receiver of the data know what to expect.  And the sender and receiver can be from different vendors.  So, PROFIsafe (an application profile) provides multivendor functional safety messaging.  PROFIenergy (another application profile) provides multivendor energy management capabilities resulting in cost savings on energy bills.  There are dozens of application profiles covering vertical markets (on trains, for example) to horizontal uses (like Identification and Maintenance).  And more are coming.  That’s the “changing” part of stable and changing.

–Carl Henning


[Cross posted at GE Intelligent Platforms blog:]