Shaping the Future
PI Conference in the Field of Tension between Established Technology and Networks of the Future

About 300 participants attended this year's PI Conference.

The fifth PI Conference on March 22 and 23, 2017 was a great success. In the Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt am Main, about 300 participants got information about trends and innovations related to the technologies of PROFIBUS & PROFINET International (PI).

The numerous presentations, workshops, and industry talks centered on the role of PI technologies in Industry 4.0 applications. “Two years ago, more components with PROFIBUS were still being put on the market. That has undergone a fundamental change: today significantly more devices are sold with PROFINET. That means that Ethernet has arrived broadly in industry,” emphasized Karsten Schneider, PI Chairman, in his opening address.

Schneider explained that Industry 4.0 is not a guaranteed success; instead, a great deal of detailed work is necessary, for example coordination with international standards, compatibility concepts, and security requirements. “We don’t start with the technology; we see what users need. From these use cases we develop concepts that are secure, reliable, and made to last.” Incidentally, this also applies to all sectors and all PI technologies, he says.

Standardization of a physical layer for Ethernet-in-the-field communication in process automation is being promoted in this context together with users, researchers, and authorities. The PA Profile 4.0, which will be completed by the end of 2017, is the preparatory work for this. “Our greatest asset is that many companies cooperate in the PI community and want to actively shape the future,” says Schneider. Thus the solutions developed are sustained by a global community.

Furthermore, numerous practical examples were presented at the PI Conference, such as asset management functions in PROFINET that simplify commissioning and maintenance in the automotive industry, how to optimize rapeseed oil production with PROFIBUS PA, and how IO Link accelerates the gripping technology in robots many times over.

New insights from Silicon Valley were provided by keynote speaker Thomas Schulz, a Spiegel correspondent and author of the bestseller Was Google wirklich will (What Google Really Wants). He provided very convincing information about the technological development approach there and the secret of their success. “First of all, the employees go to the office every day with the mission of promoting global progress with their technology. Secondly, their stated goal is not just to improve a product by 10 percent, but rather to make it 10 times better.” This often entails the necessity of completely rethinking and re-designing established processes.

Not only this presentation, but all the accompanying exhibition by the attending partners, provided enough material for intensive networking and an exchange of ideas about the technological development, application, and future of the PI technologies.

By: Weber