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Profinet in Process Automation

With the completion of the “PROFINET for Process Automation” application profile, PROFIBUS & PROFINET International (PI) has achieved another important milestone for PROFINET. As a result, PROFINET is now ideally suited for both manufacturing and process automation - just the same as PROFIBUS.

Process automation has stringent requirements for reliability and availability. For example, plants must produce 24 hours a day, 365 days a year without interruption, and this must often be sustained for 15 years or more. It must be possible to make changes at any time during plant operation in order to constantly improve the production process. The causes of errors must be identifiable, regardless of the complexity of the sensors and actuators used. Another challenge is the large number of signals in a plant, which typically number up to 100,000.

These requirements yielded four primary aspects that have been incorporated in the new profile:

  • Integration of existing fieldbuses
  • Configuration in Run
  • Time synchronization and time stamping
  • Scalable redundancy

Now that the documents are ready, manufacturers can start to implement these functions into PROFINET products for process automation applications. This will smooth the way for cost-optimized automation solutions and is of major importance especially with regard to investment protection for existing plants and for their future expansions.

Relevant basic mechanisms underlying the “PROFINET for Process Automation” application profile are already included in PROFINET Specification V2.3, which has been released in time for SPS/IPC/DRIVES. In addition to the new process automation-relevant specifications, the new version of the PROFINET Specification also includes specifications for high performance.