- April 19, 2021
The four-day conference program included around 70 lectures, 8 workshops, and almost 80 experts from a range of companies.
PI Germany has just wrapped up its first virtual PI Konferenz. According to Karsten Schneider, chairman of Profinet International, the biennial event is a cornerstone for PI in Germany to educate users and the community about the latest developments and the strategy of PI Germany's technology portfolio. The four-day conference program included around 70 lectures, 8 workshops and a podium discussion. Almost 80 experts from a vast range of companies got down into the nitty-gritty about PI Germany technologies in their speeches. Almost 1,200 people registered for the event, and registration is still ongoing, since all lectures were recorded and are still available to the audience.
Process goes digital
The PROFIBUS Nutzerorganisation e.V. (PNO) held its seventh “PI-Konferenz” from March 15 to 18, 2021; this time, it took place virtually. The guiding theme “process goes digital” addresses the many innovations and great progress in process automation in the era of digitalization. Other focal points will be information models, TSN, SPE, as well as 5G and cloud applications. The conference will offer more than 50 lectures about different aspects of industrial communication.
According to Jörg Häniche, head of APL Steering Committee and Member of PI Board, the focal point “process goes digital” of this year’s PI-Konferenz was established in view that Achema was shifted by a year. In the past, precisely with regard to developments relating to APL, PI Germany always oriented itself according to the important target of Achema, to present new developments there. The company could not have predicted that Achema would be shifted because of the pandemic, but this won’t make a big difference. The company will be able to present switches and initial field devices with Ethernet-APL in early summer. The time is ripe for the breakthrough of Ethernet in the process industry.
"We are optimistic that the process industry will adopt PROFINET since PROFINET is an established protocol that has proven itself for many years in other industries," Jörg Häniche said. "The bandwidth is high, the installation easy, the certification procedures are well-rehearsed, and there is a lot of experience available, especially with regard to interoperability." He continued, "In addition, the development of PROFINET PA 4.0 and Ethernet-APL was always done in close coordination with user organizations, manufacturers, and users. Everybody is working together. Also, now the process industry is standing before a radical change concerning automation and digitalization. A lot of developments have been initiated; an example is NAMUR Open Architecture (NOA), where the concern is to get more information from the process and work more efficiently and flexibly."
Network of the future
The second important message was about the network of the future. Already a topic of the last conference in 2019, when looking at trends in modern plants–e.g., IIoT, Digitalization, or Industrie 4.0–the requirements to succeed with digital transformation were discussed. "This year we could report on the improvements made towards this goal of providing the network of the future," Schneider said. "The presentations circled around two main areas: the basic communication transport layer and the information layer. A future-oriented network like PROFINET needs to adopt new technologies like TSN or 5G. The speakers demonstrated the state of play and what was achieved within the last two years. To make a long story short: PROFINET is well prepared!"
Information models, on the other hand, are considered to be the enabling piece for achieving your return on investment when implementing digitalization use-cases. In many areas, digital transformation is delayed in its application for real-life business models because getting to the data is just too much effort. Using standardized information models is a way to increase reuse in projects and therefore lower the time and cost, Schneider said. "During the conference, we introduced a modular approach in combining PROFINET and OPC UA to fix the issue."
These were just some aspects of the PI Konferenz 2021. Many lectures were given about IO-Link, PROFIsafe, PROFIdrive, and our latest addition omlox as well. "For us at PI, it is now the foremost goal to spread the word internationally," Schneider said. "Therefore, we are already planning international online events and workshops in cooperation with our regional associations. So stay tuned for updates on our technologies and above all, please stay safe and healthy!"
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