In production automation, PROFINET forms the technological basis for high performance of processes and diagnostics and for the integrated nature of the data flow. The process automation sector now wants to reap these benefits too. That is why PROFIBUS & PROFINET International (PI) is working energetically on standards for the purpose of optimising PROFINET for the special demands of process automation.
The first PROFINET applications are already being used in the process industry, such as connection of remote I/Os and motor management systems. However, the combination fieldbus system consisting of PROFIBUS DP coupled with PROFIBUS PA is still predominant. Here, specifications and guidelines such as the PA Profile V3.02 provide the necessary standardisation. The many resulting products from a wide range of manufacturers give users a lot of freedom in their use of instrumentation.
In the future, the PA profile is to be usable in PROFINET systems as well as in PROFIBUS systems. The revised profile version is thus being specified independent of the physical layer, thereby producing a device profile that can be used uniformly in PROFIBUS and PROFINET systems. As a result, the strengths of PROFIBUS PA with regard to diagnostics, parameter assignment, life cycle management, and the like, will be raised to the level of PROFINET. The intended additions to the profile are aimed at simplified handling, time savings, and reduced error possibilities when handling field devices throughout the system life cycle.
As the final step, it is now important to develop a system so that PROFINET devices can also be made available for use in hazardous areas and in two-wire technology for power supply via the cable. In the planning stage for this is a physical layer for Ethernet-based communication that will enable integrated Ethernet communication on an individual protocol. Through use of this technology, PROFINET can become a uniform option for the process industry that enables integrated automation based on Industrial Ethernet.
More information on PROFINET can be found at www.profinet.com.