ProfiEnergy Meets Auto Industry Requirements

First products conforming to ProfiEnergy, the latest addition to PI (Profibus and ProfiNet International)'s ever expanding range of protocols and profiles, are due to make their debut at this month’s Hanover Fair, while the ProfiEnergy profile and specifications are now available for download from the PI web site at www.profibus.com.

If your heart sinks at the thought of yet another fieldbus protocol or standard then take heart; ProfiEnergy is simply an 'Application Profile' based on and in effect extending ProfiNet, PI's industrial Ethernet implementation, and arose from a request back in 2008 from AIDA , the German association of automobile manufacturing companies, for a harmonized and standardized procedure for energy management.

AIDA's initiative had been prompted by the success of a bespoke solution implemented on a new auto industry production line by a major IT supplier which had resulted in a 70% reduction in energy costs. Rather than having to resort to further expensive and inflexible bespoke solutions, however, what AIDA was looking for was a standard approach to the integration of automation and energy management systems across a plant, providing a guaranteed uniform interface across all energy management communication products and delivering all the benefits that such open technologies bring to multi-vendor situations.

Standard ProfiNet
PI's solution uses message packets transmitted over the standard ProfiNet of a plant's automation system to 'stand down' or switch off selected equipment, components or entire systems both during normal idle times, such as weekends and holidays, and shorter plant shutdowns, such as meal breaks or unscheduled stoppages. The necessary energy management data, including stop and start commands, status information and energy management data for the controller, is transmitted in the acyclic slots within the ProfiNet protocol.

According to PI, the advantage of the ProfiEnergy approach is that no additional external hardware is required since each plant system manages its energy saving shut-down in accordance with its own particular requirements and those of the process, which are programmed within the device itself. Software 'agents' embedded in the firmware in each energy consuming unit (ECU) react to the 'start pause' and 'stop pause' signals in the manner specified by the individual equipment vendor so that, for example, a drive can be run down slowly over a pre-defined period of time.
Among the first to introduce ProfiEnergy offerings are Phoenix Contact and Siemens. Phoenix Contact is implementing the profile in a new modular gigabit switch and says that additional devices will follow, with the eventual aim of making its entire ProfiNet portfolio available in ProfiEnergy-compliant versions. Siemens, meanwhile, is offering downloadable function blocks which enable users easily to implement ProfiEnergy functions in a Simatic CPU or on PC-based solutions. It also plans to introduce ProfiEnergy enabled I/O modules and has implemented the profile in its ET 200S system. "The ProfiEnergy technology is an important part of our 'green' portfolio and underlines our contribution to sustainable environmental protection and energy savings," explained Siemens director, product and system management, Simatic, Uwe Ruttkamp.

Device Level
Siemens and Phoenix Contact have also been cooperating in the development of the new TPS1 single-chip ASIC which provides easy connection of compact devices and drives to ProfiNet controllers. The result of the 'Tiger' project, so called because this, apparently, is the Chinese 'Year of the Tiger,' and scheduled for release in September next, it is fully compatible both with the current ProfiNet specification and with the new V2.3 specification due in August.

The key advantage of the new chip is that it extends cost-effective ProfiNet integration even to small and simple field devices and thus sets the scene for the extension of Ethernet right down to the device level. According to Siemens' Uwe Ruttkamp, it represents another important step in rounding out the device technology in PI. "We plan to also use the new ASIC in the future in devices of our product portfolio, such as in compact IOs," he added.

Meanwhile latest figures from PI claim 3.1 million Profibus devices sold worldwide in 2009, bringing the total installed base to 31.4m devices – interestingly the jargon seems to have changed from counting nodes to counting devices. Of the total Profibus installed base, 5.4 million devices are now reckoned to be in use in process plants, although how many are actually being used in process automation, as against non-process-related applications within process plant, is not made clear.

Half a Million Devices
On the ProfiNet front, PI claims 500,000 devices sold in 2009, up from 460,000 in 2008, prompting chairman Jörg Freitag to comment that, "In this difficult economic climate, to achieve almost 10% greater sales compared to 2008 is a sign of the overwhelming acceptance of ProfiNet. Our Ethernet-based solution offers the user a significant added value that is increased even further by the new energy savings profile ProfiEnergy."

ProfiSafe maintained sales at the 2008 level of 220,000 new devices, bringing its total installed base to 850,000 devices.

Release of the PI figures followed close on the heels of IMS Research's latest Industrial Ethernet study which showed Ethernet/IP, ProfiNet and Modbus TCP/IP dominating the industrial Ethernet marketplace with market shares of respectively 30%, 28% and 22%. Other significant contenders are Ethernet Powerlink with 11% and EtherCAT with 4%, while the rest, which presumably includes Foundation fieldbus HSE, account for just 5%. PI restores some of its dented pride at running second in this particular race by pointing out that IMS predicts that ProfiNet will grow fastest up to 2013 at 8.7% compound compared with Ethernet/IP’s 7.1%, while Modbus TCP/IP is set to actually decline by 0.4%.
 
What they don't mention, however, is that that means that, while closing the gap, ProfiNet will still be stuck in second place in 2013.

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