Industrial Automation & Ethernet

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.

HMI Introduction

There is often some confusion when engineers begin to use Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs) and PROFINET, so in the next series of lessons we will explain how HMIs are typically used in PROFINET systems and describe the types of HMIs and application protocols available.


In the previous article about HMIs we mentioned what an HMI was. Next, in this article, we are going to show how they are typically used in a PROFINET HMI context. Often, the decision on which protocol to use on the HMI(s) depends on your application requirements and what protocol drivers the HMI supports. So let’s take a look at […]


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 […]

PROFINET with Gigabit Ethernet Considerations

Have you considered Gigabit Ethernet for your PROFINET installation? PROFINET and Gigabit Ethernet (or even faster) are complementary technologies that work well together. However, there are some important considerations you should explore before planning your installation. For example, do you need Gigabit Ethernet for your entire network installation? What about the wiring? Maybe you already have Gigabit Ethernet, but do […]

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 […]


PROFINET and OPC UA are two common protocols that have some overlap in the automation and process industries, and understanding which protocol to use in a particular part of a network can be confusing. Should a new plant use PROFINET or OPC UA to implement local control loops? What about performance data for an automation cell?  Which protocol is the […]

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.