The future of PROFINET

To finish up comments from the Minneapolis PROFINET one-day training class, in addition: “Future of PROFINET. What are they working on now?” Good question.

PROFINET is stable; the specification has been at version 2.3 for a couple years now. But that does not mean there is not more to do – just not at the protocol level. PROFINET is the communication protocol defining what data looks like on the wire – no immediate changes foreseen. Above the communication protocol are application profiles – you will see more at this level.

In the meantime there are some “new” things that are completed at the specification level, but not commonly seen in the wild yet:

31.25 microsecond cycle time. I’m not sure how many applications really need this kind of speed, but I’m sure more will be found. For the short explanation of how this is done see MinutePROFINET: PROFINET Fast; the longer versions are Hanover Fair 2: How Did PROFINET Get a Speed Upgrade and Hanover Fair 2: PROFINET Speed Upgrade. Status: specification completed, awaiting production quantities of enabling chips.

FA WSAN. That’s short for Factory Automation Wireless Sensor and Actuator Network. We are in obvious need of a marketing term for this because “FA WSAN” does not trip lightly off the tongue. Why does something like WirelessHART not cover this need? See my explanation in Control Engineering, Sensor-actuator wireless industrial network technologies. Status: specification completed and a small group is now working on a standardized stack.

PROFINET in process applications. Extending PROFINET into the process automation domain required some new application profiles to achieve time stamping, configuration-in-run, and redundancy of the network, controller and IO device. See Webinar: PROFINET in Process Automation for more. Status: specification and application profiles are completed, products in the works.

–Carl Henning