General Assembly Meeting Overview

Being PI North America’s 20th anniversary, we set out to make this year’s Meeting a bit of a special event. From the Tuesday evening reception to the Wednesday evening boat-cruise-networking-event to all of the discussions during the day, all in all it was a very successful conference.

Twenty Years

Executive Director Michael Bryant kicked off the 2014 General Assembly Meeting (GAM) with a look back at the last 20 years, and a look forward to the next twenty years. He highlighted some people here in North America and some in Europe who have been fundamental in helping him build the organization to what it is today. One such person was Klaus-Peter Lindner, who also then took the stage to give a short talk on PROFIBUS PA the Process industries over the last 20 years.


 Automotive Industry

Karsten Schneider, Chairman of both PI and the PNO, gave a presentation about the shared history between PROFIBUS / PROFINET and the automotive industry. It first started with Opel standardizing on PROFIBUS in the early nineties. This was soon followed by adopting PROFIsafe, PROFINET, and most recently PROFIenergy. Prof. Fritjof Klasen, also on the Board of the PNO, took over from there to present his experience with large PROFINET networks in automotive manufacturing. (More on the PROFIblog).  Rounding out the automotive stories was a look at the advantages of PROFINET diagnostics at Audi by Wolfgang Wende of Softing.


Industrial Internet of Things

GE_IIAussie Schnore from GE Research and Development gave a presentation how his company is working on what they call the “Industrial Internet”. First they use the Real-Time and comprehensive-diagnostics components of PROFINET at the sensor level, and then leverage OPC-UA at the controller level and above (e.g. into the cloud). This is done on turbines, wind farms, oil rigs, and other mission-critical applications. He then joined Eddie Lee from Moxa, Mike Justice from Grid Connect, Dave Greenfield from Automation World, and Tom Burke from the OPC Foundation for a panel discussion on the topic.

Application Stories

The plethora of Application Stories presented was impressive, spanning the spectrum of industry. In addition to the automotive talks, we heard about PROFINET applications in:

  • US Steel
  • Cargill Metals
  • Nucor Corp
  • Monsanto
  • Water / Waste water
  • Drilling / CNCs
  • Dredging machinery
  • Bottling lines
  • Theme parks

The creative methods used to implement the protocol were highlighted by the growing usage of wireless communications. One hot-topic of discussion (as always) was that of managed vs. unmanaged switches (video). Read:  Industrial Ethernet Switches White Paper.