Manufacturing Innovation discussed at PROFINET Executive Leadership Forum |

Manufacturing Innovation discussed at PROFINET Executive Leadership Forum

March 052012
Manufacturing Innovation discussed at PROFINET Executive Leadership Forum
March 2012
By Bill Lydon, Editor
PI North America, Siemens, and GE Intelligent Platforms hosted the PROFINET Executive Leadership Forum on Feb 23-24, 2012 at the Trump International Beach Resort in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. The invitation-only event brought together users to share experiences, best practices and illustrate the value of PROFINET in manufacturing. Participating companies included:
  • ABB
  • Agile Planet
  • Air Liquide Electronics, US
  • ATA/Arnold Air Force Base
  • Beet Analytics Technology
  • Delphi Group
  • Electro-Matic Products INC.
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Kuka Assembly and Test
  • Navy
  • Nestle Nutrition GW
  • Oldcastle Coastal
  • Phoenix Contact
  • Power/mation
  • Prism Systems, Inc.
  • Siemens
  • U.S. Pipe and Foundry
  • Vulcan Materials Company
“Why are we here?”
Michael Bryant, Executive Director of PI North America, opened the forum posing a rhetorical question, “Why are we here?” His answer was, “Learn how and why two industry giants, Siemens and GE, have come together to support one open industry standard.” He elaborated that Siemens and GE Intelligent Platforms have chosen to base their technology innovation on a network backbone of PROFINET as their only industrial Ethernet network for all they produce. “Another PI North America member, Phoenix Contact, also supports other industrial Ethernet networks but they use PROFINET as the backbone for their solutions,” said Bryant.
“In manufacturing we talk a lot about innovation but what we really want to know is what are the top tier companies doing to innovate?” asked Bryant “As my company adopts an innovative solution, how can I be sure that it is based on a proven technology that actually delivers results? Through this forum Siemens and GE, whose combined local footprint comprises about a quarter trillion dollars in sales, will answer those questions.” In addition, users described their experiences.
User Roundtable Discussion
The event started with a roundtable discussion with representatives from companies that have embraced PROFINET.   Panelists included:
  • Alex Lynch, Vice President of Prism Systems
  • Peter Van Hoof, Electrical Controls Engineer at Nestle Nutrition
  • David Wang, CTO of Beet Analytics Technology
  • David Heyman, Engineer at Kuka Assembly & Test
These are comments from the panel that I thought were worth noting:
“A big driver for adopting PROFINET was integration of automation and safety on one network.”
“MES projects are requiring more information from automation and PROFINET satisfied the need.”
“It is important to segment the information and automation networks and control user access privileges.”
“PROFINET is plug ‘n play…our installs have been going better than traditional industrial networks.”
“One software package allows me to look at the entire network.”
“In our operations the IT (Information Technology) guys handles the switches and network plumping.”
“The biggest struggle was convincing IT that one hardware network would work and we got IT involved from the beginning. IT owns the Ethernet infrastructure (cable, switches, etc.) and automation owns the configuration.”
“We involved IT up front and had them show automation how to do networking.”
“We have PROFINET as the backbone and still have lots of fieldbuses at lower levels.”
“PC access for remote access troubleshooting gives IT heartburn.”
“IT people understand Ethernet so we have common ground to talk and collaborate.”
The overall thinking of these panelists is that modern manufacturing, with increased demands for coordinated automation and enterprise system interface requirements, are best served by PROFINET. A big part of the roundtable was a discussion about the relationship with IT people that varied from collaborative to an easing of strained relations out of necessity to satisfy management requirements.
Siemens Perspective
Raj Batra, President, Industry Automation - Siemens Industry, addressed the group noting, “Today is somewhat historic in the fact that you have Siemens and GE together backing a technology (PROFINET).” Batra also boldly stated, “Our major Siemens customers who standardized on an Industrial Ethernet Solution have done a quantitative and/or qualitative assessment of PROFInet vs. Ethernet/IP Technology, and they selected PROFInet based on technical superiority." He described how people want to move to a solid open architecture industrial Ethernet network so they can leverage best in class automation solutions.
Batra discussed Siemens vision that encompasses design through plant automation noting that, “75% of manufacturing cost are determined in product design.”   Siemens is the only company with solutions for the entire process that impact manufacturing productivity from design to plant automation with their $3.5 billion acquisition of UGS Corporation in 2007.
Batra discussed Unites States manufacturing which is experiencing its 30th consecutive month of expansion as of Feb 1, 2012. Capacity utilization is still high with six of eighteen industries reporting growth.   He noted, “US businesses are sitting on $2 trillion of cash, they are sitting on more cash as a percentage of company assets than at any point since 1963." Companies are thinking about are how to cut costs and streamline by investing in operations, productivity, and manufacturing. Companies have to do more with fewer people…you have to drive productivity in operations.” 
Batra shared information from a survey of 50,000 manufacturing executives at 500 companies. By a wide margin, increasing industrial productivity in operations with energy efficiency and automation improvements was cited as high priorities. The survey also asked what strategies are most important to compete with low cost countries and the top responses were customized products, flexible manufacturing, and increased investments in automation. Batra noted that the network backbone is key to creating efficient plants that meet these objectives.   He described the importance of saving energy and cited the experience of a Mercedes Benz pilot which reduced energy costs during non-productive periods by 75% with the application of PROFIenergy.
GE Intelligent Platforms Perspective
Bernie Anger, General Manger, Control and Communication Systems - GE Intelligent Platforms, explained there was a recognition that GE needed to take advantage of an open Ethernet protocol. “We did a pretty exhaustive analysis of the alternatives,” said Anger.  “At the end of the day we decided to pick PROFINET…”   He explained that GE selected PROFINET based on technical merit. For example, with PROFINET they can detect a network break in 3 microseconds which means bumpless communications transfers to alternative media are easily accomplished. He also noted that the rich ecosystem with over 150 vendors providing PROFINET devices is an advantage.
Bernie Anger stressed that modern production requires a strong and reliable network. The network technology is more important than controller technology considering the average life cycle of a processor chip used in controllers is about 7 years - significantly less than the expected life of a control system. A capable network will be useful over multiple generations of controllers. Put another way, the wrong network can tether down that automation architecture regardless of how powerful the controllers.
Citing an ARC study that over $20 billion of control systems in the United States are over 20 years old, Anger believes new automaton can enable higher productivity from fully paid plant and process capital equipment.   Anger posed his hypothesis that automation can deliver additional performance and productivity by leveraging technology principles that are powering the information industry. He suggested that tracking real-time information from machines and the plant floor before you know what to do with it is analogous to Google collecting information for years before knowing its value.  
Anger cautioned. If you think major changes in automation architecture cannot affect you, think about Borders Book Stores that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011 because of new technology that structurally changed their business.  His final comment was, “If you use industrial automation and you’re not adopting Ethernet you’re screwed.”
PI (PROFIBUS & PROFINET International)
Joerg Frietag, PI (PROFIBUS & PROFINET International) Chairman, discussed PROFINET and the PI worldwide organization. Frietag’s responsibilities include determining the worldwide marketing strategy of PI and coordinating international projects.   The PI organization has over 1,400 member companies worldwide including 27 regional PI Associations (RPA), 42 PI Competence Centers, 22 PI Training Centers, and 10 PI Test Laboratories. He stressed that the close network of PROFIBUS and PROFINET experts in the RPAs, test labs and competence and training centers guarantees first-class support for users. There are over 600 technical people involved from member companies in the technical working groups of PI with the majority of work focused on PROFINET.   PROFINET capabilities include Wireless, Safety, Shared Devices, redundancy, IRT and Isochronous Modes, PROFIenergy, Sequence of Events and fieldbus integration.
PROFINET growth rate in 2010 was 40%, a much stronger increase compared to the growth rate of the industrial Ethernet market. Frietag pointed out that IMS Research forecast over 8.7% annual growth for PROFINET contrasted with over 7.1% for EtherNet/IP.  
Two other key parts of the forum featured presentations by Ford Powertrain on their adoption of PROFINET and Tom Koulopoulos, Futurist on Creating Value in a Hyper‐connected World. These topics will be covered in separate articles.
Thoughts & Observations
This gathering illustrates the strong commitment to PROFINET success by PI member companies and the organization.


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Related Portals:
PROFINET, Industrial Networks