Unified monitoring of PROFINET and PROFIBUS networks (Germany)

Unified, plant-wide and cross-protocol network monitoring for PROFIBUS, PROFINET and Industrial Ethernet with only one solution – this is certainly every user’s wish. Especially in wide-spread plants where already existing PROFIBUS systems are combined with new PROFINET installations. Major requirements for bus monitoring solutions are easy handling and a clear and unambiguous diagnosis: “… to be instantly able to see where to look for a failure”, says an experienced engineer, and “… it just has to be simple”. Such a unified solution is now available and has been successfully tested in a flat-rolled steel plant in Germany.

Salzgitter Flachstahl is the biggest steel subsidiary of Salzgitter AG, one of Europe’s leading steel technology companies. The company’s scope of modernization included a state-of-the-art update of its logistics, material transport, and coil field warehouse of its line for hot-rolled sheet. In the future, an automated exit conveyor and two high-performance gantry cranes take over the work of traditional mandrel pilers, providing significantly more efficiency and safety. The challenge: To ensure maximum safety, the warehouse is fenced in and equipped with respective safety features. Safety interruption of crane work in case of problems is guaranteed at any time. At the same time, the warehouse is also the classical interface between plant and rail services, subjecting the control of signal systems as well to extremely high safety requirements. Monitoring of the fencing and all accesses has therefore also been executed in a failsafe way in safety category 3.

When it came to automation of the safety-related fence, for the first time at the site, PROFINET in combination with PROFIsafe was to be the backbone of the automation system. It was clear to the service provider from the beginning that the PROFINET was to be permanently monitored: “... if the system does not work and we are unable to store and remove coils due to some failure, the production line in the worst case is down until the fault has been remedied”.
For years, the service provider has monitored PROFIBUS installations succesfully with a web-based diagnostics solution. Now, PROFIBUS, PROFINET and Industrial Ethernet network can be monitored in one single system. The respective networks are accessed either directly or remotely. The concept also includes an automatic alert in case of failures and allows integration of the diagnostics information into higher-level systems. The engineers comment: “…the simple fact that we do not have to install any software because of the web-based concept is a huge benefit. The diagnostics solution is easy to understand and use; there is no software maintenance involved, and no client licenses etc. are required – all of which and more has to be considered upon software purchases; no need for any of this with a web-based application.”

Bus monitoring can be considered as a very helpful cross-industry fieldbus application and PROFIBUS, because of its advanced technology, is very much suited for that! SZST Salzgitter Service und Technik expects such application to save a considerable amount of cost in the future: There is a huge difference between an engineer or specialist with their respective hourly wage rate troubleshooting a failure in a wide-spread plant for two hours or so and a technician or maintenance staff member doing the same for a mere five minutes. The customer saves money and also profits from reduced downtime. The solution should already have paid off after just a few service operations.

(This article has been contributed by Trebing & Himstedt).