Profinet: the communication protocol dedicated to industrial networks

Published : 12/15/2021 11:00:00

The Profinet protocol (Process Field Network) is a communication standard developed on Industrial Ethernet and designed for the collection and management of data within industrial systems.

The Profinet standard, developed and introduced by Profibus in 2003, defines industrial communication with devices in real time through a cascade concept between controllers (IO-Controllers) and devices (IO-Devices). IO-Controllers are typically PLCs or IPCs, while IO-Devices can be I/O blocks, drives, sensors or actuators.

Standard di comunicazione industriale Profinet

What distinguishes the Profinet standard?

The continuous pursuit of innovation makes it necessary to evolve the technology dedicated to industrial automation. The use of fieldbus technology has been a significant development in recent years, making it possible to migrate from centralised to decentralised automation systems. The integration of information technology into automation offers more reliable and more versatile communication options, providing configuration and service diagnostics possibilities throughout the network. These features are essential components of Profinet that have allowed it to evolve as an open standard for Industrial Ethernet.

The Profinet standard can be used for automation applications in production as well as in process automation. IEC 61158 and IEC 61784 certifications, combined with low installation costs and agile commissioning, are certainly the most popular strengths for industrial plant owners.


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What are the specifications and functionalities of the Profinet standard?

The functionalities of the various profiles form the basis for assigning the necessary instructions to devices and applications to manage the various stages of design, engineering and implementation. Here are some guidelines for Profinet systems.

  • IO Controller: this is usually the PLC on which the automation program is running. This is comparable to a class 1 master in PROFIBUS. The IO Controller provides output data to the IO Devices configured in the provider role and is the consumer of the input data of the IO devices.
  • IO Device: this is an I/O field device connected to one or more IO Controllers via PROFINET IO. It is comparable to the function of a slave in PROFIBUS. The IO device is the provider of input data and the consumer of output data.
  • IO Supervisor: can be a programming device, personal computer or man-machine interface and corresponds to a class 2 master in PROFIBUS.

A plant unit contains at least one IO Controller and one or more IO Devices; IO Supervisors are generally only integrated temporarily for commissioning or troubleshooting purposes.


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