How to Explain PROFINET to Your Mom

You’re at a party, and someone asks you what you do. I actually used to fear the question, but now I have a stock answer: “I evangelize an industrial automation communication technology.” Eyes immediately glaze over; then we can talk about the weather or sports.

Automation manufacturing technology

But once, a grandniece expressed (feigned?) continued interest. So instead of “evangelize,” I say I educate engineers about PROFINET through classes, newsletters, webinars, social media, website, and personal interaction. Those means are fairly understandable, but what is PROFINET? I could talk for days about PROFINET, of course. But how do I summarize PROFINET for a non-engineer?

Grossly oversimplifying, I say “Have you ever seen pictures of a car production line with all those robots putting the car together and welding it?” Most people have. “PROFINET lets one machine talk to another machine, like all those robots talking to each other to coordinate their movements. In addition, PROFINET is used in making pharmaceuticals, in packaging, in logistics (you know, like all those conveyors in an Amazon warehouse)… in just about any manufacturing plant.”

So that’s how I do it. How would you explain PROFINET to your mom?

Carl Henning

Carl has had experience with a machinery maker, a process instrument company, several system integrators, an HMI company, and now with PI North America. He focuses on educating the industrial automation market about PROFINET. Carl blogs about industrial automation, fieldbus, and Industrial Ethernet at

More Posts