PROFINET Development: First Steps


We need to put PROFINET on our device.  Where do we start?

This is a question we field nearly every week, and this section gives you the background, resources, and contacts to get up and moving with your PROFINET project.

There are a lot of resources out there explaining the process of developing a PROFINET product.  In addition to PROFINET University, PI has published a couple of documents worth checking out:

Resources

  • If you’re looking for a fairly high-level overview of what kinds of solutions are available and who to talk to, the PNO (the German branch of PI) has published The Easy Way to PROFINET on their website.  This document gives you a pretty good 30,000 ft view of what to expect and who to talk to.  If you’d like to ask specific questions, your Regional PI Association (RPA) can help put you in touch with PROFINET experts who might be a little closer to home.
  • If you’re looking for something more technical, a more detailed white paper called PROFINET Field Devices: Recommendations for Design and Implementation is available from PI.  This is a much heavier document and builds on the concepts outlined in The Easy Way to PROFINET.
  • If you need a crash-course in PROFINET’s capabilities and features, check out the PROFINET system description from PI.  This quick reference guide outlines the major concepts of PROFINET and explains some of the terminologies.

PROFINET Development Partners

With those resources in hand, we need to outline some of the actors that you’ll have to interact with on the path to creating a certified PROFINET device or controller.

Your Technology Vendor

PROFINET delivers excellent performance across an open 802.3 / 802.11 network, and it delivers that performance at the cost of complexity within the networking stack.  The only efficient way to implement PROFINET is to buy a solution from someone who’s done it before. It can be a software stack, a chip, a PCB module, or an external adapter.  The group you buy that solution from is your Technology Vendor, and you can find a convenient list of North American vendors here.  Most of these vendors have worked with PI Test Labs before and can provide reference implementations for their technology components.

Your PI-accredited Test Lab

PI has accredited quite a few test labs worldwide – you can find a full list on their website.  But the North American market is served primarily by the PROFI Interface Center.  The PI Test Lab you choose to work with is responsible for performing the required conformance testing (application here) against your PROFINET Device or Controller and issuing you a formal Test Report.  But here’s the catch – that Test Report is not a certification.  For that, you need to turn to The PI Certification Office

The PI Certification Office

The PI Certification Office (PICO) is the last stop on your way to earning your certificate.  You must submit the Test Report from the PI Test Lab, along with an Application for Certification, to the PI Certification Office after your device has passed its conformance test.

Each one of these actors fills a different role to help move a PROFINET project closer to market.  We’ve put together a little table below to illustrate where each one fits in your workflow.

Development resources through the project lifecycle

 Technology VendorPROFI Interface CenterPI Certification Office
Technology Training++
Requirements Definition+++
Design and Engineering+
Certification Test+
Device Certificate+
You have a lot of resources to call upon when you’re developing a PROFINET device – here’s how the three biggest resources (your technology vendor, the PIC, and the PICO) meet your needs.

Summary

PI gives you all of the documentation you could care to read about how to get started with PROFINET. Also, your Regional PI Association can give you real-world contacts to bridge the gap between reading and doing.  Your technology vendor is there to support you through the development process. The TestLab is the last technical stop on the way to certifying your device, and the PI Certification Office is the final authority that moves your device to market.