The CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) and Profibus & Profinet International (PI) have delivered on their announcement to allow easy interoperability between CC-Link IE and Profinet, releasing a new joint specification at SPS/IPC/Drives 2016.
This new specification builds on an initial announcement at the 2015 fair, where both organisations promised to maximise the transparency between the two protocols.
Over the past year a working group, which includes members from networking experts Hilscher and Molex, has been drafting a specification to provide interoperability between the two protocols. The development was guided in part by the white paper distributed at the 2015 fair, which, in turn, outlined the feedback of end users whose requests drove the co-operation.
Promoting transparency and ease of integration is one of the primary concerns for achieving concepts such as Industry 4.0. Many end users will source production machinery from across the world, which may result in machines in the same plant being equipped with differing communications protocols. This can lead to increased engineering work to achieve integration, as users are combining heterogeneous architectures that may not necessarily communicate as standard. End users of both networks flagged these challenges to both the CLPA and PI, who reacted quickly via the new co-operation.
CC-Link IE is an acknowledged technology leader in the Asian Market, while Profinet is most prevalent in Europe, so the new specification will simplify integration and increase freedom of choice for end users who source production machinery globally. After less than one year of work, the specification will be made available to members of both organisations, which will enable them to develop hardware products to support the new specification.
'Coupler' device specification
The specification centres on the functionality of a 'coupler' device that enables transparent communication between CC-Link IE and Profinet. As a result, both networks can seamlessly share information. This can effectively achieve communication between differing parts of a line on separate networks, hugely increasing transparency and integration.
Both the CLPA and PI expect to see the first supported products coming to market in 2017, with some partners already showing enthusiasm for the new collaboration. This will effectively mean that the original concerns of end users who sparked the collaboration will have been addressed in under two years, displaying both organisations' commitment to addressing users' needs.
Karsten Schneider, Chairman of PI, comments: "We are delighted to offer our users direct solutions to their requirements, in conjunction with the CLPA, whose aims are synchronous with our own."
Naomi Nakamura, Global Director of the CLPA adds: "The CLPA is pleased to be working with PI and our partners to offer support to end users who need this interoperability. The co-operation between CLPA and PI will directly help to make concepts such as Industry 4.0 a reality. Increased openness and accessibility is what our end users demanded, so we are pleased to be able to support them fully with this new specification."