PROFINET is widely used in various factory automation applications all over the entire planet, but why? Because, when a user decides on PROFINET, he has a choice of thousands of different products from various manufacturers developed and offered worldwide today, such as I/O devices, actuators, sensors, network and infrastructure components, and controllers. This variety gives the user maximum freedom to design his own plant and automation systems. In systems like this, there is a higher risk of lack of interoperability. PI has established several different measures to ensure interoperability.

Certification

The key is a well-defined certification and qualification system for a product’s communication interfaces. Based on the experiences with PROFIBUS, certification testing services for PROFINET interfaces in approved PI Test Labs has already been established 15 years ago. Eight out of ten PI Test Labs offer certification testing services for PROFINET. In the meantime, more than 2,000 PROFINET certificates have been issued.

Extremely important in this context is the availability of the automatically operating PROFINET test tool. This tool is used during product development at the device manufacturers’ development centers and at the accredited PI Test Labs for certification of PROFINET interfaces. According to our projections, a new version of this powerful tool will be available to PI members in May 2018.

Guidelines

PI drafted the guideline “PROFINET Field Devices – Recommendation for Design and Implementation” to support device manufacturers in the efficient integration of PROFINET interfaces into their products. The guideline recommends a series of design/development steps with specific information on each step, including best practices. Development personnel can take advantage of this guideline whether they are developing a new PROFINET or adding a PROFINET interface to an existing device. To support the decision-making process regarding available implementation options, there is an additional brochure available titled “PROFINET Technology – The easy way to PROFINET”.

Additionally, PI organizes developer workshops for device manufacturers. In some occasions, the workshops are accompanied by a micro fair where companies showcase their development kits and services.

Plugfests and other events

Plugfests provide another opportunity for monitoring development quality. PI has been hosting these events in Germany and in the USA. Currently, there are plans to extend this to other countries, specifically China. The goal is to test real-world interaction with a wide range of products of different manufacturers and industries under controlled conditions.

PI also organizes co-exhibitor stands on trade-shows. For example, PI Germany participated in the fair “embedded world” in Nuremberg on February 27-29 of this year. PI showcases the variety of PROFINET products and offered space for technology providers.

Summary

All these means contribute to a high level of interoperability and guarantee a problem-free interaction of the many different device implementations in machinery and equipment. Flexibility – now highly appreciated by the user – is also due to the fact that he can rely on PROFINET products from different manufacturers to interface and interconnect seamlessly with each other.

Dr. Peter Wenzel
PI Technical Director