As outlined in many other publications, industrial communication networks are one of the key ingredients for successful automation, now and for years to come. In addition to the flexibility to choose from different, competing manufacturers, greater diagnostic capabilities are provided. One other benefit I see becoming more and more important is the ability to have failsafe and standard (non-safety related) communication run in parallel. It is rare to find a dedicated safety engineer in most plants. So, it’s a benefit that safety is becoming a highly integrated part of the application. Integration after all, supports an increase in the availability of the systems and therefore the profitability. The execution of a safety function does not necessarily stop the whole machine or process, but only the section affected by this execution.
The need for a simplification of applications by reducing the number of components leads to a higher integration level of safety functionality into the offered system. In the past it was common that the safety circuitry was built up by using discrete inputs and outputs, which were evaluated and reacted to in the Safety Controller. Now, it is understood that there are huge benefits to have components with predefined safety functionality, instead of building up safety functionality over and over again. Examples of this trend are safety door-locks, laser scanners, or valve manifolds systems being directly controlled via PROFIsafe. It is more efficient to use a single PROFIsafe device with its complete functionality defined thereby permitting effortless device exchange, due to its openness and interoperability.
The benefits are available from an increasing number of various vendors of Failsafe Controllers with PROFIsafe F-Host functionality implemented. Due to the outstanding performance of PROFINET and PROFIsafe, their ruggedness and reliability, flexible network topologies, and easily integrated functional safety, the attractiveness to develop F-Devices is apparent. Another proof of the high flexibility of PROFIsafe is the option to utilize Wireless LAN for safety applications. This unique feature of PROFIsafe is the result of its independence from the communication method. This openness towards the physical solution allows cost-effective and flexible functional safety.
A market presence of more than 16.5 million PROFINET nodes with approximately 7 million being PROFIsafe devices is a certain indicator of the significance of the technology. PROFIsafe was brought to the market together with PROFIBUS as the underlying fieldbus. Over time, PROFIsafe evolved together with PROFINET into the world of real time Ethernet based technology, and continues its success as the state of the art communication architecture. Another example of the PROFIsafe openness is its adoption to other underlying communications systems like I/O.
A huge install-base, the advantage of increased availability, and the effortless introduction of new devices are important factors to select a technology. PI provides the base to spread the technology further by providing training, organizing plug-fests, and supporting the certification process with tools and standards.
More information on PROFIsafe and interesting facts on how to utilize the technology in a variety of applications can be found in this edition of PROFINEWS! Welcome!
Dipl.-Ing. Electrical Engineering
Working Group Leader PROFIsafe Marketing