Yellow is the new Green

“Yellow is the new Green.”  In order to avoid confusing this observation with pronouncements to Curious George’s friend in the yellow hat, I might add “Purple is the new Green.”  In fact, “Green is the new Green.”  (Or, more accurately “PROFINET Green is the new Green.”)  Yellow represents AS-I; purple, PROFIBUS; and green, PROFINET.  And Green means good for the environment. 

In what way are fieldbuses environmentally friendly?

At the AS-interface seminar in Richmond yesterday, presenter Helge Hornis showed a graph of copper prices increasing dramatically over the last several years; tripling in price.  (Copper theft is a major problem in Arizona where thieves rip copper pipes and wiring from houses under construction.  They even rip copper wires from freeway light posts.  A new state law requires positive identification of the survivors who try to sell the copper to recycling centers.)  He mentioned in passing that cable jackets are based on petrochemicals (plastics).  Back to Helge’s point: the cost of wire is going up, use AS-I to keep the cost down.  Use one bus cable instead of many individual wires to individual devices.

All of this prompted me to think about fieldbuses in general as an environmentally friendly approach to business.  Here is my quick list of green benefits of fieldbuses:

   Less wire.  Less copper used means less mining and refining.  Less plastic means less drilling and refining, not to mention less dependence on foreign oil.

   Less conduit.  Fewer wires mean fewer conduits.  Steel conduits require mining of iron and coal plus energy to transport and produce.

   Fewer terminal strips.  Less copper and lots less plastic.

   Smaller enclosures.  Since there are fewer terminal strips, there is no need for machine-mounted terminal strip enclosures and since there are fewer IO modules, the controller cabinet can be smaller.  Less steel or aluminum for the enclosures reduces mining and especially energy consumption in manufacture.

   Less time for installation.  The contract electricians drive fewer times to the plant, transporting less equipment, saving gas… ok, maybe, I’m stretching it now.  Although there are definitely more hard-to-quantify benefits lurking after installation.  I don’t have the actual data to quantify the rest of these either, but I suspect they are significant.

Kermit was wrong.  It is easy to be green.  Just use a fieldbus.