Again SPS/IPC/DRIVES fair just closed its doors with new records in visitors and exhibitors. The fair has developed into an international meeting point and became one of the most important entries in many calendars. Companies withhold new product announcements until the fair and so did PI. The new PI booth had around 100 co-exhibitors, which shows the importance that members attribute to PI. Vendors, chip-manufacturers, or service-providers: they all see the value in being part of PI’s global community. During the PI press conference, attendees expressed their surprise at the number of hot news items. PI’s working groups are more active than ever to propel the technology into the IIoT era.

This is being done on various levels.  The core of our communication technology gets an update with TSN. By adopting TSN, PROFINET will get more robustness, deterministic behavior, and a higher bandwidth using standard IEEE technology. Our experts are working on how the different IEEE 802.1 technologies will be used by PROFINET. For the specification readiness, we set the goal of mid-2019. Until then, we are going to finalize how TSN networks will be configured or products will be certified. As usual with PROFINET, you will get the full package.

And then there is OPC UA. At the fair there is no place without OPC UA. For future Industrie 4.0 or IIoT applications, the technology will play a central role. At PI we have investigated OPC for a long time, especially for vertical communication to IT systems. Today we believe the main work at PI will be put into defining information models. We did that over the last 25 years with our Application Profiles already and gained lots of experience. Now we are using this knowledge and putting it into OPC UA companion specifications to make the information available for use. Our first one is the asset management profile, which will allow access to the information describing PROFINET devices and their subsystems. Diagnostic information will follow next.

But vertical communication is only one use-case for OPC UA. Another one is controller-to-controller or machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. For this use-case, we announced an extension of PROFIsafe to OPC UA for failsafe communication between machines in a vendor-neutral way. By kicking off this standardization activity we pave new roads in industrial automation. I am excited to see PI breaking new ground and I am happy that the OPC Foundation joined in on this as a long-term partner. Together we will set the future standard for failsafe machine-to-machine communication.

Of course, there were many other news items at this fair and you will find them here in PROFINEWS. For us, 2017 was a very successful year and we are looking forward to 2018. Working in this great community is a joy every day for me. But first, it’s time for some rest with friends and family. I wish you a peaceful Holiday Season, Merry Christmas and a good start in 2018.

Karsten Schneider
PI Chairman