Developing a PROFINET Product

  • Post category:TECH TIPS
  • Reading time:6 mins read

There are so many choices of ways to add PROFINET to an automation device that it is difficult to know where to start. Where to start depends on the type of product, its existing design, quantity expected, and time to market needed.

For a product with an existing Ethernet controller, a PROFINET software stack can be added.  This can be written from scratch by reading the spec (not recommended) or buying a stack from one of the many stack providers. For a product being designed from the ground up, there are choices depending on expected quantity and time to market.  In decreasing order of complexity, the choices are:

  1. Chip
  2. Standard Ethernet controller plus stack
  3. Board/module
  4. External gateway

This order holds true for both decreasing expected sales quantity and time to market (complexity). On the other hand, this ordering represents increasing cost to implement.  All the choices can be accomplished to support PROFINET and other networks.

Maybe it’s less confusing with a table instead of words:




Innovasic Chip (ASIC or FPGA) dollar-sign plus-sign4
stack-profinetEthernet-controller Standard Ethernet controller + stack dollar-sign2 plus-sign3
board-module2 Board/module dollar-sign3 plus-sign2
gateway Gateway dollar-sign4 plus-sign

Whichever way you go, note that PROFINET products must be certified. For details, view the 19-minute webinar “A Guide to PROFINET Product Certification.” If you are uncertain if certification is required for your product, the deciding factor is: “Does it need a GSD file?”  If it does, the product must be certified. (The GSD file, written in XML, defines the unique parameters, values, and alarms for your product.)

There are no administrative hoops to jump through. Unlike some other Industrial Ethernets, there is no contract to sign or royalties to pay.

There are many resources to help you in adding PROFINET to your product:

  • Webinar “The Rapid Way to PROFINET.” It presents the PROFINET Product Design Cycle.
  • Developer classes. Class attendance is limited to a single company and is regularly scheduled after PROFINET Certified Network Engineer classes in Johnson City, TN.  They can also be held at your facility.  In either case, they are tailored to your situation.
  • Guideline. “Recommendation for Design and Implementation of PROFINET Devices.”  See the article announcing this new resource.

PI North America and other Regional PI Associations and PI Competence Centers like the PROFI Interface Center are happy to help anyone who is developing a PROFINET product.  PI members have access to additional resources.

For PI members:

All PROFINET devices must be certification tested in a PI Test Lab.  LINK  Wouldn’t it be helpful to run the tests that the lab runs at your own facility before going to the lab?  Members can… by downloading the PROFINET IO Test Bundle.  This bundle contains

  • RT-Tester
  • IRT-Tester
  • TEDCheck
  • Security Level 1 Tester
  • Test Specification PN IO devices
  • PROFINET Specification
  • all PROFINET-relevant Guidelines
  • Test cases for all RT-/IRT-/Security Level 1- tests,
  • GSDML specification
  • GSD-Checker

Other tools available to members on the international website include:

Use the Checker to check a GSD file, display contents in a table view, check the file validity, and edit with the built-in XML Editor (or call an external XML editor).  Sample GSD files are included as a starting point.

If you need to upgrade an existing GSD file to a higher GSDML version, this tool automates the process substantially.

PROFIdrive PROFINET Profile Tester
It supports the development of PROFINET IO devices with PROFIdrive or Encoder Profile application interfaces. Use it to prepare for PROFIdrive certification and also as a test tool to run self-programmed test scripts.

Once you get the lab test results, you can apply for a PROFINET Certificate.  Members get a discount on the cost of the certificate.

Now it’s time to market your product.  PI can help with that too.  Place your product in the online product guide and announce it in PROFINEWS with a circulation of 225,000.