The Japanese PROFIBUS Organization (hereafter JPO) announced that a PROFINET Working Group was set up at the end of Feb 2004. The purpose of this working group is "to investigate the possibility of using Ethernet as a Factory Network", and "to exchange the information on real-time Ethernet between Europe and Japan". The PROFIBUS Nutzerorganisation e.V. (hereafter PNO) officially approved this working group in March 2004.
As Ethernet has become more and more important in the office world, some users and vendors are investigating the possibility of using an open network system for automation applications within factories. However as full reliability and a high real-time capability are the most important functions in factory automation, it is almost impossible to use standard Ethernet on the factory floor. The result of this is that fieldbus systems are normally used at the factory floor level and (proprietary) Ethernet networks are used in the office level.
Recently however, some users and vendors have reported productivity improvements through the use of Ethernet. That means that users want to use Ethernet as an open and flexible network to connect various kinds of devices within their factories, even at the factory floor level. PROFINET, the real-time Ethernet solution based on Industrial Ethernet, was introduced by the PNO in 2000 and is based on the IEC61158 and IEC 61784 standards. The PNO is presently developing further PROFINET features with 80 engineers from over 50 companies.
The fact that PROFINET permits the simultaneous use of real-time communication and IT standard communication (TCP/IP) on the same network - without limitations - means that it is ideally suited for communication at all factory levels.
2. The Japanese working group:
The main goal of the working group is to consider the requirements of the Japanese market with regards to PROFINET. The establishment of an open and flexible factory network system in the automation world can improve factory management, increase efficiency and reduce costs. Over the last 3 years JPO has introduced PROFINET into the Japanese market by means of seminars and demonstrations. Last year (2003) JPO held PROFINET demonstrations at several exhibitions and at a real-time seminar in July. There was a very positive feedback from all attendees.
The working group includes, among others, the following companies:
HMS INDUSTRIAL NETWORKS, M-System Co., Ltd., OMRON Corporation, Siemens K.K., Toshiba Corporation, Hilscher GmbH, Fuji Electric Advanced Technology Co., Ltd., Yaskawa Siemens Automation & Drives Corp., Yokogawa Electric Corporation. These top Japanese automation and European companies are in a position to competently discuss this topic. The working group will spend 2 years investigating industrial real-time Ethernet based on PROFINET from the point of view of specification, engineering, maintenance, life cycle, system responsibility etc.
The working group will have permanent contact with the PROFINET working groups in Europe, as these have more experience in Industrial Ethernet, and will continue to work on new topics such as security, web integration and so on. JPO chairman Mr. Shinichi Motoyoshi believes that "the strong membership of the working group will lead to new trends being set in industrial real-time Ethernet and help make them a reality".
JPO will ask other users and vendors, who are interested in a PROFINET solution to participate in the working group.