Somewhere over the Atlantic

I’m relatively awake but not necessarily happy to be.  But while I am, I will compose some Hanover Fair news to post when I land.

First, news about PROFIBUS and PROFINET.  A number of companies make development kits for device manufacturers to get moving quickly on PROFINET products.  (We’ve recently confirmed that we will schedule a workshop for North American device manufacturers to see the approaches compared.  You heard it here first!  Watch the website and newsletter for workshop news.)

The latest development kit is from HMS.  They have added a new PROFINET card to their Anybus line.  This card is based on the ERTEC 200 from Siemens and NEC.  I spoke with Michaels Volks on the HMS stand.  He told me that there are 500 devices out there that use Anybus.  A device manufacturer has only to replace the previous Anybus card, update the faceplate for two RJ45 connectors, and change their documentation – no change to their internal software is required since all Anybus cards have the same interface regardless of the bus they support.  There are three really big advantages arising from this:

  1. Quick ability to get 500 more PROFINET products available!
  2. The card is IRT capable.
  3. The two ports allow virtual bus wiring instead of the star topologies of most Ethernet networks.

Number one is pretty obvious, number two means the device can support update times of about a millisecond, and number three is one of those things that may be larger than it first appears.  So let’s spend a paragraph on number three.

Most Industrial Ethernet networks force users into a star topology – every wire must go to an Ethernet switch.  This defeats the benefits of using a fieldbus, where the wire runs from device to device – much more practical in the industrial world.  The two ports on the ERTEC-based Anybus board allow this virtual bus topology.  (A number of PROFINET devices already have this feature.)  It’s worth noting that many standard Ethernet ASICs (definition) automatically incorporate a store-and-forward capability (definition) that is great for office environments, but only slows the response time for industrial applications.  The ERTEC ASIC is much faster since it does not store-and-forward.

Other news from PROFIBUS International included:

  • TCI (Tool Calling Interface) specification available for review
  • PROFIBUS/PROFINET Profile for pumps
  • Motion Control with PROFINET proliferates
  • PROFIBUS nodes shipped through 2005 confirmed as 15.4 million
  • A new PROFIsafe overview brochure was released
  • IO-Link

You can read the press releases Here.  My brief commentary:

  • TCI and the pump profile are in the review phase.
  • The continuing adoption of PROFINET Motion Control is good news.
  • PROFIBUS shipments are confirmed by counting the number of PROFIBUS ASICs sold.  There have been 530,000 PROFIBUS Process nodes shipped through 2005.  Adding the discrete PROFIBUS nodes in the process industry brings the total PROFIBUS nodes in the process industry to 2.8 million.  (We see process and discrete nodes in the process industry since there are almost always discrete actions required upstream and downstream of the “process.”  See the ARC white paper on the white paper page.)
  • The new PROFIsafe brochure features an American football scene on the cover.  I guess the helmet and all the padding conveys “safe.”
  • IO-Link is “the fieldbus-independent sensor/actuator communication system.”  PROFIBUS International is providing the organizational infrastructure for this technology, but IO-Link is not a fieldbus (in fact, it’s not a bus at all) and it can work with any fieldbus.  Watch for more IO-Link commentary soon.