Go Wide with PROFINET
PI North America conducts PROFINET training classes around the country. At a recent class, one of the comments from an existing PROFINET user surprised us: “We’ve been using PROFINET, but we only knew about a fraction of what it can do. We’re glad we came to training!”
There are two lessons to draw from this: First, come to PROFINET training classes; they’re free. And GE's Intelligent Platforms business is there at every U.S. class with a table to show their PROFINET products. We especially like the high-availability PROFINET network they demonstrate on their table. We have GE products on the demo at the front of the room, too. (Of course, other suppliers are also showing their products at the classes. That’s how we can make the classes free for students.)
Second, PROFINET has a breadth and depth of features you should know about so you can get the full benefit from your PROFINET network. I think of the breadth of PROFINET as the application spaces it covers: discrete (factory), process and motion control. So even process instruments and drives can be integrated into a PROFINET network. The depth of features is really too long to articulate here, but here are some highlights. Some major features: PROFIsafe, PROFIenergy and I&M (Identification and Maintenance). PROFIsafe provides functional safety over the network. PROFIenergy allows easy energy management. I&M provides convenient access to parameters used for maintenance.
One huge feature of PROFINET is its diagnostic capabilities to prevent downtime and shorten it when it occurs. PROFINET builds on PROFIBUS diagnostics of device, module, and channel by adding network protocols from the IT space. IT network protocols (HTTP, SNMP, and LLDP) can be used to specifically troubleshoot network issues. HTTP allows a web browser to see web pages in devices like PLCs and Ethernet switches right over the PROFINET network. SNMP accesses network details from Ethernet switches whether standalone or in PROFINET devices. Details like number of retries on a specific port. (Alarming on this could prevent a shutdown.) LLDP provides information about devices connected to neighboring Ethernet ports. This can be used to create topology maps of the PROFINET network.
For more features, read “Six Little Known Facts about PROFINET and Why They Matter.”