Last year's SPS/IPC/Drives fair in Nuremberg, Germany marked an important milestone for the CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA), as the organisation presented the first result of its co-operation with Profinet & Profibus International (PI): the Hilscher NT 151-CCIE-RE coupler. This device provides for easy exchange of information between CC-Link IE and Profinet, therefore underlining the organisations' commitment to global openness, accessibility and connectivity.
Follow this link to watch a video about this on YouTube.
The coupler was developed by CLPA and PI partner Hilscher and is the first device to implement the CC-Link IE/Profinet interoperability specification. Its introduction marks an important step in the collaboration between the two major networking protocols in Asia and Europe.
The collaboration between CLPA and PI was announced at SPS/IPC/Drives 2015. Armin Pühringer, Business Development Manager at Hilscher, comments: "They launched a working group consisting of industry experts who defined a joint specification to allow seamless integration between CC-Link IE and Profinet." The interoperability specification for both was then launched at SPS/IPC/Drives 2016, opening the way to the development of interoperable devices.
Hilscher's NT 151-CCIE-RE works as both a CC-Link IE Field Intelligent Device and a Profinet IO device. By transmitting data bi-directionally between CC-Link IE and Profinet, the NT 151 allows both network controllers to communicate with each other. Key mechanisms include a mapping model to map data from both sides, diagnostics for coupler and networks, and a SyCon-based DTM that works as the coupler configuration tool.
Karsten Schneider, Chairman of PI, explains why network interoperability provides added value for customers: "The goal of the co-operation with the CC-Link Partner Association is to help our customers use CC-Link IE and Profinet combined in one network and make it easier for them to integrate these protocols. The coupler bridges Profinet and CC-Link IE in a standardised way." This system dramatically reduces the engineering work required to achieve integration across the heterogeneous network architectures.
Benefits for exporters
Besides providing an easy and accessible way to connect different control architectures, additional benefits for end users include more freedom in the purchase decision and in shipping to different markets.
John Browett, General Manager at CLPA Europe, adds: "We believe the coupler device represents an important step forward for companies operating globally, whether you are operating in Europe, where Profinet is strong, or you are operating in Asia, where CC-Link IE is strong. It will now provide the necessary freedom to work in these markets without limitations caused by network architectures."
The innovative coupler provides greater flexibility to industries worldwide and is a gateway into Industry 4.0, as Pühringer points out: "Co-operation between companies providing interoperability is at the heart of industrial Internet of Things (IoT)."
CLPA, Hilscher and PI have shown themselves to be at the forefront of innovation. Pühringer states: "Hilscher is proud to say that we are the first company to introduce a real device enabling these specifications."
The coupler is believed to be the first of a long series of interoperable products and Schneider continues: "I am really thankful for the co-operation with the CC-Link Partner Association. We have seen great results over the last two years and I am looking forward to continuing this development."