The 2011 PI Conference took place in Karlsruhe, Germany, in February. Entitled 'Automation and Energy Efficiency' it attracted over 250 participants from vendor and end user communities.
The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Klaus Töpfer (right), who set the scene with a speech about energy in the modern world. Dr. Töpfer is a former Federal Environment Minister and a founding director of the Institute of climate change, earth system and sustainability (IASS) in Potsdam. He explained how fair distribution of energy will be crucial in a world facing the prospect of 9 billion inhabitants. He pointed out the responsibilities faced by all in ensuring a peaceful future, and particularly for making sure energy is used efficiently. Appropriately, the first afternoon of the Conference focused on the PROFIenergy profile which allows automation devices to be managed for optimum energy efficiency over a PROFINET network.
During this first session a report by Markus Mueller (right) of AIT (Institut für Automation & Industrial IT) of FH Cologne presented the first results of an energy audit undertaken at different automotive manufacturing sites. The audit, which comprised long term monitoring of real energy consumption in automation lines, showed that surprisingly high amounts of energy are used during a variety of non-planned production pauses, often as short as a few seconds. AIT showed how potential energy savings of 30% are available using technologies such as PROFIenergy, with corresponding cost and CO2 savings. However, it said, best results can come only with careful planning of the energy management procedures, preferably early in the design phases of a plant, and that a full understanding is required by system designers and vendors of how PROFIenergy can be utilized.
This theme was reflected during the first Podium Discussion when Thomas Schott of Siemens pointed out that PROFIenergy was really an 'enabler' and that by itself "it cannot save a single kilowatt!" It is as much the responsibility of OEMs and vendors as it is end users to ensure that PROFIenergy is used effectively, he said. Representatives of the automotive manufacturers spoke warmly of PROFIenergy. "It is the right way forward and now we need devices where PROFIenergy is implemented," said Jürgen Kübler of Daimler AG. It was clear from this and other discussions that first applications with PROFIenergy are already in the testing phase in many automotive plants, and that 'energy efficiency for competitive advantage' is a primary motivator. Other participants in this Podium Discussion were Volker Bibelhausen of Phoenix Contact, Wilhelm Otten of Evonik and Klaus Grimmer of BMW.
Day 2 broadened the scope of the presentations to cover general PROFINET technology and its application. A crisp presentation from Xaver Schmidt (right), PI PROFINET Marketing Group leader, described the 'functional completeness' of PROFINET now that the 2.3 specification has been published. Schmidt's assertions were underlined by other presentations, notably one by Bernd Wansner of ABB who explained how the special requirements of process automation - for example redundancy, time stamping, configuration in run and fieldbus integration - are now fully supported by PROFINET 2.3.
Day 2 also included an overview of the VW plant at Puebla in Mexico, where PROFINET is being extensively used. A joint presentation by Frithjof Klasen of AIT and Jü rgen Jaskalla of VW (left) explained that the plant, which lies in the shadow of the famous Popocatapetl volcano, employs approximately 14,000 employees and produces over 500,000 vehicles/year, 80% of which go for export. About 150 PROFINET stations have been installed, incorporating 2,500 PROFINET devices with up to 180 participants in each PROFINET segment. PROFIsafe and wireless are also incorporated, together with PROFINET to PROFINET network transitions and PROFINET to fieldbus integration. One conclusion of the project is that PROFINET engineering and design must start in the planning phases to ensure the best deployment. "PROFINET is not simply a 'USB Stick' that can be inserted to fix a production challenge" is how the presenters put it. Commissioning in the future must also involve the equipment supplier.
The 'Ethernet in process automation' theme was covered extensively during the second day's Podium Discussion, when a panel comprising Raimund Sommer of Endress + Hauser, Hans-Georg Kumpfmü ller of Siemens, Michael Pelz of NAMUR and Auchim Laubenstein of ABB was moderated by Dr. Reinhard Hüppe of ZVEI. This panel agreed that Ethernet will only be used by the process industries if tangible benefits can be realized, but that without the possibility of hazardous area operations, Ethernet is unlikely to be widely used in the field in near future except as a backbone network. Nevertheless, some users are already demanding it for their plants and products are being supplied for non-hazardous area use indicating that the rise of Ethernet in process automation is underway.
The process theme cropped up again during one of the three Plenum sessions devoted to end users experiences, this time with the focus on PROFIBUS PA. Gerd Niedermayer of BASF spoke of his company's experiences in using fieldbus and of the benefits they had seen - in particular the 'marked shortening of loop check times'. This, he said, had cut loop testing by an average of 60%, reducing commissioning by three months in one case.
Separate to the main conference were parallel sessions throughout the event, covering topics such as device integration, diagnostics, wireless and PROFIsafe. During these sessions it was often 'standing room only', underlining how these less dramatic but essential elements of automation have become ust as important as the headline-making technologies. An interesting application for 802.11n on wind generators was described during the wireless session.
The third Plenum presentation was by Christian Hoppe of J A Becker, a German company specializing in lifting systems. A recently-won contract for the Wiener Linien (Vienna Tram) depot in Simmering, in Austria uses PROFINET and PROFIsafe to control 16 lift systems for the maintenance of trains comprising up to 7 carriages at a time. A lift system elevates the carriages to a suitable working height where they are held in place by a second set of side lifts allowing the bogies to be lowered for individual work or replacement. Wiener Linien expects to save 10,000 m² of workshop space with the new system, which is undergoing construction now. PROFIBUS is used for local lift control, with PROFINET linking the 16 units. A central PC allows remote diagnostics over the internet.
In closing the Conference, PI Chairman Jörg Freitag thanked everyone for their participation and said he was delighted with the success of the event. "We in PI have learned a lot about the value to users of both PROFINET and PROFIBUS from this conference and we look forward to welcoming you to our next conference in 2013."
More information on the German Website www.pi-konferenz.de
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