In process automation, rapid installation and easy operation of field devices are important user requirements – consistently across manufacturers. The PA Profile for PROFIBUS has already met these requirements for many years, proving itself in practice and gaining broad market acceptance in the area of process automation. As Industry 4.0 and IIoT continue to advance, Ethernet technology – and with it PROFINET – will become established in process automation. Therefore PI (PROFIBUS & PROFINET International) has developed a profile specification in the form of PA Profile 4.0 that is independent of the communication protocol.
All parameters and functions specified in PA Profile can be used via both PROFINET and PROFIBUS. To simplify the handling of field devices even further, the following options were created: availability of all diagnostics of the NAMUR NE107 specification through the use of Profile GSDs. In addition to the support for standard device parameters from the new version of NE131 that has been announced, the possibility of vendor-neutral device replacement will also be enabled.
The release of PA Profile is anticipated after a successful PI review in the middle of 2017.
Therefore, as part of the path to a fully Ethernet-based solution, PI is implementing another building block in PROFINET. Along with features like Configuration in Run that have already been implemented, or FDI, which was developed in cooperation with the FieldComm Group, PA Profile 4.0 was a missing piece of the puzzle in the Ethernet strategy for the process automation of PI and has now been completed. However, in order to be able to also serve industries like the oil and gas or chemical industries, it is necessary to establish further technical preconditions for Ethernet at the field level. Longer cable distances, 2-wire technology, power supply via the bus, and intrinsic safety cannot yet be implemented in a standardized way with today’s Ethernet. PI will address these issues first so manufacturers are able to use PROFINET in all areas of process automation.