Exclusive: Four German automakers standardize on Profinet at SPS/IPC Drives 2004

Nuremberg, Germany—Four of Germany’s leading automotive companies recently agreed to support the Profinet industrial Ethernet standard during the SPS/IPC/Drives 2004 fair.

By Control Engineering Staff December 7, 2004

Nuremberg, Germany— Four of Germany’s leading automotive companies recently agreed to support the Profinet industrial Ethernet standard during the SPS/IPC/Drives 2004 fair. Profinet was developed and is administered by Profibus International , which is also responsible for the Profibus and Profisafe automation technologies.

Speaking jointly at a Profibus International press conference, representatives of Audi, BMW, DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen stated that their announcement is intended to encourage supplier companies to introduce Profinet-based systems quickly to meet the needs of future automation systems in automotive manufacturing. They add their goal is to achieve a fixed, uniform protocol that is neutral with regard to manufacturers and users, and which also has an integrated safety technology. Standardization of the engineering tools for the communications bus is also required.

These four companies make up the Automation Initiative of German Domestic Automobile (AIDA) manufacturers organization. It reportedly was established because today‘s automation systems are heterogeneous and only compatible to a restricted extent. In addition, AIDA adds that fieldbus systems tend to have relatively limited bandwidth, and can restrict the distribution of automation components. Today, this requires additional resources and integration and results in increased costs. AIDA believes that a common industrial Ethernet platform is the way to overcome these challenges in future automation systems, and has selected Profinet to do the job.

“This announcement will not only influence the automotive industry in Germany but the rest of the world too,” says Edgar Kuester, Profibus International’s chairman. “I also believe that the leadership of the automotive industry will have a significant influence on most other branches of industry. This exciting moment in the history of automation offers us all the chance to focus on real end-user benefits using a vendor-neutral communications solution. One of the unique advan-tages of Profinet is that it enables legacy fieldbus systems, such as Profibus or Interbus, to be integrated easily, thus protecting existing automation investments. Everybody looks to be a winner in this new automation world, and I invite once again other major fieldbus organizations to join our mission.”

Mike Bryant, Profibus International’s deputy chairman and executive director of North America’s Profibus Trade Organization, adds that, “This decision by key players in the European automotive market sends a powerful signal globally. My assessment at this point in time, based on our experience of the Profibus market 10 years ago, and because Profinet offers a number of key industrial Ethernet advantages, is that AIDA’s lead will be followed by automotive manufac-turers worldwide, including, I believe, in North America.”

Profinet was developed by Profibus International for distributed automation and component-based automation applications. The Interbus Club also supports Profinet, and its members are developing Profinet-compatible products. Collectively, Profibus and Interbus have nearly 20 million fieldbus devices installed, which is roughly 75% of the world’s total fieldbus market.

At the recent SPS/IPC/Drives fair, Profibus International announced that more than 70 Profinet products and services are available from more than 20 vendors in North America, Europe and Japan. The organization adds that it believes the number of Profinet-compliant products will in-crease significantly by the next Hannover Fair in April 2005.

Profinet reportedly can simultaneously meet the needs of three automation domains with a one-cable industrial Ethernet solution. These three are IT integration, real-time automation, and isochronous real-time (IRT) motion control. In addition, Profinet is compatible with IEEE 802.3 standards. In motion control applications, Profinet can control up to 150 axes in 1 mS by using its

Also, more than 140 engineers are working in 11 international working groups on developing, enhancing, and standardizing Profinet. These effort include adding data security and integrating Profinet into MES systems. A machine and personnel safety profile, based on the proven Proisafe fieldbus solution, is also being developed.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jim Montague, news editor