Wanted: PROFINET-speaking Devices.
Needed: Integration Expertise.
In more and more cases, the ability to communicate and interoperate via PROFINET is a must-have for Industry 4.0-capable devices. What should device manufacturers know to make the right “make-or-buy” decision? And how can they solve fast-changing requirements without investing in own software expertise?
Here’s how to make it work safely.
Imagine your company is a device manufacturer. One day, a key customer calls you. The good part of the message is, “We will embed your device into all our plants”. Wow, you’re a lucky one. That’s what you call scaling your business. However, the message contains an “if”, too: The precondition is that your device must speak PROFINET, including the PROFIsafe profile.
Now, as a device manufacturer, you start thinking: “Do we need a specific ASIC, or can we solve the task with a software stack? How can we connect our application to the PROFINET stack? What conformance classes, profiles, and data sets should we be able to support? And what about certification?”
Even more essential, however, is the “make-or-buy” decision. In other words: “Does it make sense to build up our own know-how in the PROFINET area? If yes, how much time will it take? Can we still guarantee the deadline then? Or should we look for a partner with a strong background in both industrial automation and PROFINET technology?”
Collaborating with the experts
For good reasons, you decide to focus on your core competence – i.e., the functionality – rather than jeopardizing the schedule. And here, a solution provider such as Codewerk enters the stage. PROFINET solution providers are experts in the industrial sector, especially when it comes to communication and interoperability.
Everything good, then? Happy End to the story?
Not quite yet. Still during the clarification phase, new requirements pop up. For example, the need for additional web services and a firmware update mechanism, to name just two findings – result in a modified project plan. From a technical point of view, integrating an ASIC turns out to be the smartest solution. This has to be connected to the host processor with a very high data rate via serial SPI bus to fulfill the performance requirements. Now, you are invited to observe the rest of the story as an insider at Codewerk. First, you see them implement the PROFINET device based on, for example, the Siemens PROFINET stack, the connection with the host processor, and the required data sets and web services. As well, they take charge of the firmware update mechanism via the Ethernet interface. Checkmark.
A moving target, a fixed deadline – and how to solve the double challenge
Software development implies errors by nature. For example, concerning the timing between the host processor and the ASIC. This leads to profound fault analyses and correction activities. Should anyone get nervous at this point? At Codewerk, they’ve got good news for you: Right from the beginning, they’ve been using their Embedded System Integration Check (ESIC) framework that can perform up to 1,000 automated tests night after night. Errors can hence be found and corrected at a very early project stage. Everyone familiar with software development knows how mission-critical it is to detect and eliminate such faults before they make it to the more elaborate project stages. Good to know that the ESIC framework tests all essential functionalities such as DCP, cyclic data exchange, as well as the performance and synchronicity of the device. So, a stitch in time saves nine.
Is that it? Time to uncork the champaign? Not before certifying the device in a PI test lab. To make sure all goes smoothly, a solution provider typically runs all required tests with the official tools beforehand in order to register and correct potential problems early.
Now, everything is set for a successful certification at a PI test lab. You, as the device manufacturer, can keep your schedule – and, as a result, your device starts its impressive success story at thousands of end users.
–Peter Hensel, Head of Industry Solutions, Codewerk
–Michael Kirsche, embedded & PROFINET expert, Codewerk
–Learn more about Codewerk