Wireless Ethernet Safety

One of the other questions that came up in Grand Rapids came up during the PROFINET section and related to safety.  I thought it worth expanding on the answer to that.  The question: “Can I use PROFINET over wireless in a PROFIBUS PA environment?”

First, let’s be clear that we are talking about two different kinds of safety – intrinsic safety and functional safety.  Intrinsic safety is for atmospheres where a spark can cause an explosion.  Functional safety is protection against machinery malfunctioning and causing damage or injury.

The answer to the question then is yes and no.  No, you can not use PROFINET in an explosive atmosphere; there is no intrinsically safe Ethernet standard.  Yes, you can connect a functional-safety-rated PROFIBUS PA device through a PROFINET proxy and from there wirelessly to a safety controller.  PROFIsafe is the technology that allows safety over a bus regardless of the transmission media (serial or Ethernet, wired or wireless).  More on PROFIsafe.   Or click on the PROFIsafe or safety tags in the right-hand column.  (I’ve started updating past posts with tags.  I’m back about 8 months so far.  I really like the new blog software!)