Michael Bowne

Introduction to Manufacturing and Automation

PROFINET University provides lessons about PROFINET. And PROFINET is a communications technology that helps manufacturers make things. Those things may be discrete things like cars or phones, continuously produced things like gasoline or safe drinking water, or batch things like a batch of pills or potato chips. Manufacturers use automation to ensure consistent, high-quality products.

Automation Controllers

There are three types of controllers used in industrial automation: PLCs, DCSs, and PACs. In PROFINET terminology any of these are called a controller and any can be used on a PROFINET network. Each have their pros and cons.


PROFINET networks connect PROFINET controllers and devices in an automation network. But there are other networks used in automation – some competitive to PROFINET and others complementary. PROFINET is an Industrial Ethernet protocol, often times used for more than just automation.

Why Ethernet?

When we introduced the lesson on the evolution of buses in Automation Evolutionary Trends we showed control connectivity evolving from manual to pneumatic to 4-20mA to fieldbus to Industrial Ethernet. Each step improved manufacturers’ ability to install, commission, operate, and maintain their production lines. The step to fieldbuses provided the benefits of reduced wiring, additional information, and faster diagnostics. It […]

Network Reference Model

Networks are usually represented by a seven-layer model, the ISO/OSI Reference Model. In the Ethernet world, the seven layers collapse to four. PROFINET uses all four, but not all the time. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves; let’s start at the beginning: the seven layer model. Here’s the seven-layer model with the layers labeled and their functions defined. The layers […]

Automation Evolutionary Trends

Industrial automation continues to evolve along with the networks that support it. The newest trends are more than buzzwords: Industrie 4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things. These or similar concepts go by different names in different countries. Here is a brief look back at the evolution followed by the impact and relationship of these new concepts.

PROFINET of Things: Data Access

PROFINET is foundational to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) which lies in the overlap of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrie 4.0. There are differences between IoT and IIoT. These next three lessons will extend that into the PROFINET of Things.

PROFINET of Things: Uptime

Uptime is critical to fully realizing the mission critical and professional services characteristics expected of industrial networks. Diagnostics provide a means of recovering from downtime quickly. Fault tolerance eliminate downtime altogether through various methods.

PROFINET of Things: Openness

A major driving force of the Industrial Internet of Things and Industrie 4.0 is the reliance on open standards. PROFINET devices are manufactured according to the PROFINET specification (IEC 61158). PROFINET is Ethernet, IEEE 802.3. Many other standards also come into play – standards from IEC, IEEE, NAMUR, and IETF.


PROFINET is a mechanism to exchange data between controllers and devices. Controllers could be PLCs, DCSs, or PACs (Programmable Logic Controllers, Distributed Control Systems, or Programmable Automation Controllers.). Devices could be I/O blocks, vision systems, RFID readers, drives, process instruments, proxies, or even other controllers. Fast and Deterministic PROFINET exchanges data quickly and deterministically. Required speeds vary depending on the […]

IP Addresses

An oft-heard question: “Why do PROFINET devices need IP addresses? PROFINET uses names!” You may have heard the misinformation that PROFINET does not use TCP/IP. The correct information is that it in fact does.
So, the short answer to that oft-heard question: PROFINET uses TCP/IP and therefore needs an IP address.

PROFIBUS and PROFINET Troubleshooting

One of the strengths of fieldbuses and industrial Ethernet protocols in general, and Profibus and Profinet in particular, is the diagnostic information. This diagnostic information can prevent downtime and accelerate Profinet troubleshooting. First, an explanation of the technologies: Profibus and Profinet International (PI) created, support, and maintain the Profibus and Profinet standards. Both specifications are part of IEC 61158. Profibus […]