I always monitor with curiosity how Hype Topics evolve, and some of them then vanish shortly afterward. Looking onto functional safety, it turns out that this is not to be considered as a hype topic as such, but as a key ingredient for successful automation solutions.

This can be seen in the applicational requirement’s not just focusing on the sensor/actuator communication towards an F-Controller, but also to safely communicate on a M2M (Machine to Machine) level independent of the system. This ever-growing demand for a M2M communication also needs to satisfy the implementation of sensor/actuator integration. These contradicting requirements are being answered by PI with the different activities standardizing these requirements. To integrate failsafe I/O directly there is IO-Link Safety, for more advanced networks there is PROFINET with PROFIsafe readily available, also allowing the safely communicate between systems. To address the M2M requirements fully, PROFIsafe over OPC UA is being specified together with the OPC Foundation.

This shows how important it is to address all the communication levels also from a functional safety perspective and offer the right mechanism for these different layers. With these ongoing developments, in conjunction with the huge base of different vendors participating, I’m looking forward to seeing the development of safety communication unfold further into the field.

Markus Kempf
Head of PI Working Group “PROFIsafe Marketing“