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.


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.

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.

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 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 […]

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 […]

Isochronous Real-Time (IRT) Communication

When you mention the words “real-time” and “Ethernet” in the same sentence, let alone next to each other, you get some incredulous looks.  Ethernet, by definition, is an open network that allows anyone to transmit at any time – making it a probabilistic transmission medium.  Unless there’s abnormally high bandwidth utilization, Ethernet is built on the assumption that nodes will probably […]

DCP – Discovery and Configuration Protocol

PROFINET DCP is part of the protocol suite and stands for “Discovery and basic Configuration Protocol”. It is used by the engineering tool and controller to discover devices, identify device information, and configure device settings such as PROFINET device name and IP address on a PROFINET network.