Industrial communication is one of the key technologies in the field of modern automation engineering in which PROFIBUS has taken a leading role in recent years. PROFIBUS controls and monitors systems, machines, and manufacturing and production processes, connects insular solutions, and links the primary process to secondary processes such as logistics, quality assurance, and maintenance. This technology is now being replaced by PROFINET – in factory automation in particular. The primary reasons behind this are the higher real-time requirements, the increased flexibility, and the higher performance that enhances capabilities for diagnosis of systems and field devices.
PROFIBUS & PROFINET International (PI) is therefore working intensively to establish PROFINET as the solution platform for process automation. The investment protection of existing systems and equipment is an essential aspect of this. To ensure this, introduction of PROFINET in the process industry is incremental. Process engineering systems are characterized by high complexity, many systems are explosion-proof, and the automation landscape is very heterogeneous. Nevertheless, it is the desire of owners and users to harmonize this complexity, to fully integrate data and information systems, and to make these easier to handle and thus more reliable to operate.
A white paper now presents which functions and capabilities of PROFINET already satisfy the requirements of process automation. These include the proxy specification, which allows seamless integration of PROFIBUS PA into PROFINET, thus enabling reuse of old systems. Likewise, the 'Configuration in Run' function has been developed, which enables changes to or replacement of field devices during operation. System redundancy for the purpose of meeting the high availability requirements has also already been implemented. Furthermore, the white paper describes which aspects require further exploration in order for PROFINET to become the solution platform in the process industry as well. These concern issues involving explosion protection, for example.
The white paper is available in English and German for free download on the PI website: http://www.profibus.com/whitepaper_pa