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 […]

PROFINET Communication Channels

PROFINET is great at moving information across a network – we never get tired hammering that message home. But exactly how PROFINET moves that information is still a gray area for a lot of users, and deserves a closer look here. To understand how PROFINET moves information, it helps to keep in mind what kind of information it’s moving.  Does […]

Components: Device, Controller, Supervisor

A PROFINET network can be a complex collection of stations, from digital I/O devices to pneumatic actuators to laser scanners… the list seems endless and grows every day. But within that complex network, all PROFINET components operate within three different roles. They can be either Devices, Controllers, or Supervisors.

PROFINET Supervisors and Supervisor Takeover

In our article on PROFINET Components, we saw that most of the communication in PROFINET flows between Devices and Controllers. Supervisors don’t get much attention because they don’t get involved in production work. However, a PROFINET Supervisor can be a great tool during system commissioning, checkout, and even to troubleshoot when there’s a problem. PROFINET supervisors operate in a similar […]

PROFINET Infrastructure – Cat-5 Cable

At its heart, PROFINET is based on standard Ethernet IEEE 802.3 Physical layers using 802.3 supporting components. PROFINET will work on copper Ethernet cable, Fiber Optical (FO) cable, Power Over Ethernet (PoE) cable and Wireless. The components available for your PROFINET infrastructure depend on the harshness of the environment and whether or not you are using PROFINET IRT. PROFINET Infrastructure PROFINET […]

Which switch to use for PROFINET?

Should you use a managed switch or an unmanaged switch with PROFINET? Yes, you should use either a managed or an unmanaged Industrial Ethernet switch with PROFINET ;). Both types of switches are suitable for PROFINET networks. Unmanaged Switches An unmanaged switch has no built-in intelligence except to send incoming Ethernet frames out the correct port – the port to […]

PROFINET Guidelines at a glance

PROFINET offers a massive breadth and depth of application scenarios for industrial automation.  Examples of breadth include wired and wireless IO, factory automation, motion control with IRT for drives/motors, and process automation.  Examples of depth include simple device replacement/commissioning, fast startup, Shared and I -device, and redundancy, just to name a few. If you have questions about application criteria, for example about network topology, commissioning devices, […]

PROFINET Installation Guidelines Explained

Prior to starting your next PROFINET project, we recommend that you take a close look at PI’s PROFINET installation guidelines and planning tools.  These guidelines were designed by engineers for engineers. They will help you with the design, installation, and commissioning of your PROFINET system. They contain tips and specifics that are often overlooked.  There are three main guides a design guideline, an […]


What is a GSD File? A PROFINET General Station Description (GSD) file is a description of an IO device provided by the device manufacturer. The contents of the GSD consists of configuration information, parameters, modules, diagnostic and alarms, and vendor and device identification. To discuss the latter two in a little more detail, the vendor identification (vendor ID) is a number […]

PROFINET Device Parameters

PROFINET device parameters are features that can be selected to set the operating conditions of a device. PROFINET supports 3 types of parameters: Standard parameters, F-parameters, and Dynamic Parameters. The GSD file of each device defines its parameters (GSD files are explained in PROFINET GSD File Basics). Three Types of Device Parameters 1) Standard Parameters Standard parameters are available for each device.  The PROFINET Controller configuration […]

Real Time Classes

PROFINET has class, in fact, many classes: Conformance Classes, Real Time classes, media redundancy classes, and even more class(es). This article covers Real Time Classes and how PROFINET works.

Motion Control and PROFINET

It should come as no surprise that PROFINET also supports motion control applications with drives and motors (sometimes also referred to as VFDs – Variable Frequency Drives) as these are used in most modern automation systems.  Motion control support comes with PROFINET technology from three main aspects: 1.) The ability for scalable real-time control depending on the drive application 2.) […]