When I look at just the most important activities we’re carrying out in the different Working Groups, I see that they’re pretty similar this year as to last year. TSN, Security, APL/SPE, OPC UA, 5G, etc. have since become familiar terms, and we say them countless times over the course of the year.
In the meantime though, we’ve become much more specific in implementation in terms of the steps from idea to product.
TSN + Security + APL
For example, synchronization and preemption with Gbit have already become part of the PROFINET specifications. That’s why we’ve developed a completely new TSN demo in close cooperation with 12 partners for the SPS trade show – a demo which demonstrates a specific implementation of these topics to our customers. Much more important than entertainment value, though, is the specific implementation of TSN in the latest hardware components and the facet of interoperability. (By the way: we’re currently in the process of producing a video on the demo.) A community stack project for facilitating implementation has also been started in the meantime.
With regard to Security, a review of the PROFINET specifications has just been completed. In three steps, we’ve specified all Security classes – most recently the cryptographic algorithms. In order for it to be possible to implement these definitions on paper in a sensible and practical way, a project for trial implementation on different platforms is also in progress. The topic of certificate management is also becoming more specific through GSD signing, and the infrastructure for signing is currently in development. We’ll also soon be publishing a positioning paper describing the important security specification IEC62443 for PROFINET Security.
Then there’s APL. The first pilot devices can be seen in trade show demonstrations, and the associated certification currently being developed is also being validated with the first devices.
In the Real World
What all these specific steps certainly also demonstrate – and we’re happy to be open and honest here – is that we discover uncertainties and even gaps in the preliminary work for implementation of the devices and certification. I think every developer has had this experience, regardless of whether they’re developing according to an international standard or implementing their own well-thought-out function. What’s important is having the processes and means, as well as responding accordingly, and we’re practicing this transparently.
In monitoring the large number of different topics, I have also noticed that cooperation between the different groups has intensified. Ultimately, this isn’t a surprise, as there are technical dependencies and we want to offer a comprehensive solution. For example, credential management can interfere with the connection setup of existing communications, or APL requires a precise definition of the link speed transitions. Solutions are built through a cooperation between the experts in the appropriate Working Groups. The decisive factor for a sensible definition and specific implementation is the will and readiness of our Working Group members to work closely together. A thorough understanding of the requirements and marginal conditions is required first, and then a solution can be developed together. I’m happy to say again that this is how we do it in our Working Groups.
That’s why I’m excitedly awaiting further upcoming steps for implementing our new technologies and am looking forward to getting feedback at customer meetings like, “We would have already let you know if it didn’t work.”