Open industrial Ethernet is moving up to the next level, with PROFIBUS & PROFINET International (PI) and the CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) co-operating to develop connectivity between their respective open industrial Ethernet protocols, PROFINET and CC-Link IE. This will mean that plant and machinery with either CC-Link IE or PROFINET connectivity will be able to seamlessly communicate with one another, while individual devices will be able to be connected to either network.
CC-Link IE and CC-Link are the dominant open automation networks in Asia, while PROFINET is favoured in Europe. These open networks allow devices and systems from different manufacturers to freely exchange data on each network. This frees users from the restrictions of being tied into one single control equipment manufacturer or a small group of manufacturers. By interfacing CC-Link IE and PROFINET, a significant advance in openness will be achieved at a stroke.
The two associations have been working together on this initiative for about six months, and have launched a video to explain the ultimate objective of the joint project and progress so far. This can be viewed at https://youtu.be/O8lUOClXj3I.
There is a global drive towards greater openness in industrial automation which is embodied by concepts such as Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), both of which enable the collection and processing of large amounts of production data in close to real time with the aim of improving operating efficiency.
“To achieve this, the easy integration of networks such as CC-Link IE and PROFINET, into transparent network infrastructures is essential,” says Fumihiko Kimura, chairman of CLPA.
The two associations have set up a technical working group, which has met several times and drawn up plans and schedules to allow the CLPA and PI technologies to align and interface. The target date for completion of an outline standard is the end of 2016.
Karsten Schneider, PI Chairman says: “Both of our technologies will become easier to install and use as a result of this work. We expect their worldwide appeal to also increase, initially between Europe and Asia but quickly extending to the Americas and the rest of the world. In the not too distant future plant and machinery will be communicating more freely without the need for OEMs and end users to undertake additional time consuming and costly engineering work in order to integrate CC-Link IE and PROFINET networks.”
CC-Link IE and PROFINET technology is provided free of charge to members of the respective associations. Ultimately the interfacing technology will also be available to members of both groups.
“Industry needs flexibility and simplicity if it is to build IIoT, Industry 4.0, or e-F@ctory enabled systems," explains Naomi Nakamura, Global Director of CLPA. “Our collaboration with PI will allow users to benefit from the large number of devices available from members of both organisations.”
John Browett, CLPA’s General Manager for Europe, sums up: “This move will create new business opportunities for our members, whether they operate on a global basis directly or supply to customers who do. In short, intercontinental trade is good for global business and open, transparent networking of machinery is a vital part of achieving it.”