PROFINET can be connected wirelessly as easily and seamlessly as it can be connected with regular wires (copper, fiber). Wireless is part of PROFINET’s specification for two wireless standards: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. When speaking about wireless PROFINET communications for industrial automation, there are a variety of architectures available depending on the particular application. This post will go over the four main possible architectures with some definitions.
- Point to Point (P2P)
- Point to Multipoint (P2M/ Infrastructure)
- Wireless Distributed Systems(WDS)
Point to Point: P2P connections are available via Bluetooth or WiFi. Typically, P2P architectures have a dedicated wireless connection between two devices, between two APs (Access Point), or between a device and an AP. These devices could be for example a PROFINET controller and IO device. The main advantage of P2P is the dedicated channel for communications. The channel is not shared, therefore more bandwidth is available on the wireless link. For that reason, most Bluetooth applications use P2P connections as their primary method of communications.
Point to Multipoint: P2M architectures are available mostly via WiFi, but Bluetooth is also an option. With P2M, users can tie multiple wireless stations to a controller or other devices through a single AP. Most wireless networks use a wireless infrastructure (P2M) as the main wireless mode. For example, you could have a laptop, an HMI, and a PROFINET network consisting of multiple devices all accessible via wireless.
Wireless Distributed Systems: A WDS allows the use of a wireless backbone between multiple APs. In this case, a client could ‘roam’ between the cells for seamless communication. This would work well for automated guided vehicles or other moving wireless components.
Mesh: Mesh wireless networks are fairly new to the industry, but they are important for low power devices in process and sensor networks. For these applications, sending data at a slower rate (in seconds) is the norm, devices enter a ‘sleep’ state until awakened by a change in the process.
Learn more about industrial wireless and Profinet with a full webinar.