Addressing communication issues at PI event

16 June 2015

Suzanne Gill previews the PROFIBUS & PROFINET User Conference, which takes place from 23 – 24 June at The Stratford Manor Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The successful format of the PI UK Conference will be repeated again this year, with a programme of conference presentations and hands-on practical sessions. The event is aimed at those involved in, or thinking about, fieldbus, intelligent instrumentation and actuation or networked control systems applications, including instrument technicians/engineers, C&I engineers and system engineers involved in design, operation and maintenance of modern process and manufacturing plant.

Running alongside the conference and practical sessions will be a exhibition with interactive displays and technology demonstrations from the UK's PROFIBUS Competence Centre and product vendors, trainers, consultants and systems integrators.

As in previous years, many sessions will include audience participation and there will be opportunities to explore how PROFIBUS and PROFINET equipment and techniques are used in practice. 

This year the event will concentrate on the issues of implementation, maintenance and management of PROFIBUS and PROFINET systems and will cover the latest technology developments for factory and process automation.

In his keynote address PI chairman, Karsten Schneider, will disclose his views on the future direction of PROFIBUS and PROFINET technologies, while Simon Keogh, general manager at Siemens Factory Automation & Control will explore some of the automation technology trends impacting manufacturing today. He will also tackle the issue of Industry 4.0, focusing on the requirements that need to be met before the digitalisation of automation can become a reality. “While the Industry 4.0 reality is some way off, there are already signs of increasing interaction between product and machine,” he said. 

A workshop session hosted by Peter Thomas, of Control Specialists, will focus on how to implement PROFIBUS in process plants, addressing key points for consideration in its use and installation. This workshop will include an overview of basic process application networks and the role of instrumentation and connection technology to control elements within the plant. It will also look at issues surrounding hazardous locations and what needs to be considered when designing control loops into the plant environment in hazardous areas. Thomas will also define the differences between using PROFIBUS DP and PROFIBUS PA and will look at the different technologies available for converting PROFIBUS DP to PROFIBUS PA

In another session, Dr Andreas Uhl, from Siemens, will look at the use of PROFINET and PROFIdrive in newspaper printing applications. PROFIdrive has been established as the drive profile for frequency converters, positioning drives and servo drives. Alongside the ENCODER profile it offers a standardised interface for motion applications. Uhl will use a real-life case study to show the advantages of PROFINET and PROFIdrive in practice in an application that requires the operation of more than 1,000 axis in angular synchronism and the use of media redundancy protocol MRPD.

Safety and security considerations
Pete Brown, a Siemens Functional Safety Professional, will be explaining how PROFIsafe can be used in delivering functional safety. He will look at the requirements for IT Security in modern controls and how this can impact and affect decisions made for functional safety.

His presentation will conclude with a look into the future to discuss how ‘Industry 4.0’, the’ Internet of Things’ and ‘Big Data’ could impact the functional safety world.

Bernd Kremer, from Softing Industrial Automation, will focus on the successful deployment of a diagnostic and monitoring solution for the provision of network performance status based on PROFINET diagnostics in a major AUDI plant.

AUDI’s specific requirements for the implementation of the PROFINET communication protocol went beyond the scope of typical network diagnostics, to include the provision of network and error statistics as well as diagnostic information read from devices. AUDI also required access to topology and asset information such as current firmware versions in real-time, detection of added or failed devices and the creation of a reference measurement, availability of the communication metrics for subsequent comparison and graphical display of possible changes. Secure access from the overall network – managed by the IT department – to the automation network was yet another requirement.

Process considerations
Another  workshop at the event will look at implementing PROFIBUS in process plants, using application-based examples. The workshop will include an overview of basic process application networks and the role of instrumentation and connection technology to control elements within the plant. It will encompass hazardous locations, explaining why they are such an important consideration when designing control loops into the plant environment and will show how to connect PROFIBUS DP and PA devices in hazardous areas and will cover best and safest practices when connecting field devices to the process network.

Walter Stoops, of Pepperl  + Fuchs, will focus on at HART over PROFIBUS. HART communication has been around since the early 1980’s. Its huge presence in process installations shows that the technology is still fulfilling the needs of most applications and user requirements. “Because of its wide spread over all sorts of industries it would feel odd to leave this technology behind, especially for those who have been working with it for so long. At the PI UK event, I will be discussing how disclosure of the field instrumentation can work for us in various situations,” said Stoops.

If you are starting from scratch it is easy to implement new technology and if control systems are replaced then another opportunity presents itself – namely, adding new technology while existing field instrument remains in place. By adding remote I/O systems, for example, it is possible to benefit from the features of fieldbus technology and also build on the familiarity with the existing HART communication. Further, manufacturers provide converters for HART instrumentation to be connected to Profibus DP as well as Profibus PA directly, allowing to multi-drop HART instruments from 4 to 15 instruments per channel depending on the application.

“When starting up the first thing we would like to see is whether the instruments are properly connected to the system. With fieldbus we know where we stand by generating a ‘Live list’ of the installation. At a glance it is possible to see what is failing and this can be fixed before proceeding. Once everything is ‘live’, setting parameters or adjusting the configuration can be achieved from behind the computer, instead of having to go into the field. Even HART communication can run over the fieldbus cables via our remote I/O system or HART/Profibus converter,” explained Stoop.

“Whatever you are planning there will always be a time to think of HART communication in combination with Profibus DP or PA. How this will suit your interest best depends on the time spend investigating the possibilities. There is no need to leave old technology behind and just focus on new ones. The outlook is without a doubt Industry 4.0 and/or the Internet of Things, but we should not waste our legacy,” said Stoops.

For anyone in the UK using, or considering PROFIBUS or PROFINEt technologies, the event should not be missed as it is one of the few events in the UK that brings together many of the global PI industry experts under one roof, which will give you an opportunity to get answers to all your questions.
Further details about the event and how to register are available at

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