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The importance of standardisation

15 April 2019

Peter Wenzel, executive director of PROFIBUS & PROFINET International, Germany, highlights the importance of standardisation for data communication technologies.

For those that integrated them, the modern continuous development of standardised technologies guarantees long-term economic success. PROFIBUS & PROFINET International (PI) has always consistently lived this principle, which accounts for almost 30 years of success which continues as PI members increasingly rely on PROFINET. However, in order to make this technology viable for the future, PI’s dedicated Working Groups have recently integrated a set of basic TSN functions into the PROFINET specification and have specified semantics for device description.

In order to guarantee maximum global success however, the second step will be to introduce and enforce the specified mechanisms in the relevant international standards. Many PI experts are therefore active in national and international standardisation organisations and have taken on strategically important management functions there.

In addition to an Industry 4.0-focused development of PROFINET, these innovations mainly concern the unconditional support for the coexistence of OPC UA in PROFINET networks; open semantics and information models; and security.

The foundation for PROFINET remains the standard unmodified Ethernet standards of the IEEE and several relevant projects are underway in the IEC. On the one hand, based on the IEEE’s standardised TSN with real-time characteristics, a TSN profile is being developed in a joint IEEE/IEC working group which is optimised for use in industrial automation applications (IEC / IEEE 60802 (TSN)). 

In addition, the IEC 61158, IEC 61784-1 and IEC 61184-2 standards, upon which PROFINET is anchored, are being continuously enhanced with the aim of introducing new features for PROFINET. In the area of semantics, the IEC 61804 (EDDL) and IEC 62769(FDI) standards, which are firmly established in process automation for standardising PROFINET device descriptions, are also being continuously updated. In addition, the IEC 61987 (CDD) standard will be extended, to establish relevant semantic identifiers – which are among the basic tenets of Industry 4.0 ed. It is important that all PI technologies features become completely mapped within this standard and this will help to ensure that PROFINET will meet all the essential requirements of Industry 4.0-style production systems – such as the distributed and synchronised production of parts as well as flexible production of individualised products down to batch sizes of one.


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