Collaborative Technology Development for Digitalization

  • Post category:PI NEWS
  • Reading time:3 mins read

Advanced digitalization is requiring that automation solutions – which previously functioned on a local scale – increasingly network the various different production plants at a site and across multiple sites, even beyond the boundaries of manufacturing companies. As a result, automation systems implemented according to different standards have to communicate with one another to exchange data and information. This can only occur in an efficient way through the harmonization of standards created in different branches of industry and in different regions. The creation of these kinds of harmonized standards requires the collaboration of the responsible standardization organizations. For PROFIBUS & PROFINET International (PI), this kind of joint activities has become an important pillar of the development of technology for industrial automation over the past 10 years.

Field Device Integration – FDI

One of the first cross-organization standards was FDI, where PI not only got the specification off the ground in collaboration with other organizations, but also provided a host component and development environment for the FDI device packages. The topic of Ethernet APL is another successful joint technological development of multiple organizations which enables the extensive use of Ethernet in processing plants.


Cross-domain information modeling is the necessary basis for the increasing networking occurring in production. With ECLASS, PI had already agreed upon a process for mapping relevant parameters of PI specifications in feature lists of ECLASS as part of a joint effort back in 2018. Implementation was initiated with the PA profile and is currently being continued as part of the reworking of the PI Product Finder.

Energy Management + PROFIenergy

An increasingly important topic for cross-domain information modeling is the generation of companion standards. The first generation concerned PROFINET, IO-Link and PROFIenergy, which PI provided in bilateral cooperation with the OPC Foundation. The next generation was already initiated with the topics of power consumption management and global positioning. The topic of power consumption management goes back to an initiative of the VDMA. In cooperation with the ODVA, the VDMA and the OPC Foundation, a companion standard is to be created for the management of energy consumption in automated industrial applications through aligned use cases.

Location + Position Tracking

The goal of global positioning is to harmonize the different standards for determining the positions of objects in 3D space on the local and global levels as part of a companion specification. The project partners here are the OPC Foundation and AIM-D e.V.

These examples show that digitalization has not just considerably influenced the breadth of technology fields at PI, but also prove both that the quality of the results has met the expectations of users and that its existing infrastructure is being viewed as a solid basis for successful global distribution of the technology.