In the Industry 4.0, Internet of Things, and Big Data environment, industrial communication is of central importance. The close networking of automation components, machines, systems, and IT systems needed for this, including across locations or even between different companies, is only possible with standardised and integrated communication.
In recent years, PROFIBUS & PROFINET International (PI) has brought about numerous developments that meet these requirements. An important boundary condition in this regard is the openness of the technologies. That is, specifications and guidelines are available to any interested party for implementation in products or use in systems and applications. This has been a foundation pillar for the success of PI technologies since the beginning.
Industry 4.0 calls for easy-to-handle solutions that are characterised by high performance capability for real-time, availability, flexible topologies, and integration – even over great distances – and that also make use of the many possibilities of the digital world. Solutions in conjunction with the Internet of Things require transmission of large data quantities in real time. The developments concerning all aspects of PROFINET are particularly noteworthy in this regard. PROFINET is currently the only standard that supports the complete real-time bandwidth, from hard real-time requirements in high-performance machines with the necessary openness for IP communication all the way to transmission of large data quantities in real-time within automation systems and with higher-level IT systems.
The PROFINET developments for the process industry are being approached under the perspective of Industry 4.0. The purpose of the integrated information flow is to improve networking of processes, for instance, to enable more effective maintenance activities. Today”s intelligent field devices already supply not only measured quantities and manipulated variables but also information regarding, for example, the amount of wear still available and process-related conditions. The meaning of this status and diagnostic information must be clear in order for relevant, sound decisions to be made from it. Here, the technologies of PROFIBUS and PROFINET offer practical solutions such as transmission of device status according to NAMUR recommendation 107.
The finalisation of the FDI Specification, in which PI was significantly involved, at the end of last year was crucial for the process industry. This marked an important step towards easier, cross-vendor device integration – a primary requirement for integrated communication between devices and systems. The vendor-neutral OPC-UA interface has already been specified proactively in FDI. This satisfies another precondition for straightforward read out of information – the basis for innovative ideas in the context of Industry 4.0. In the Industry 4.0 Implementation Strategy, FDI is also indicated as the single approach for realisation of functional and information layers.