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Excellent Crowd Kicks Off First PROFINET Class in 2009

Carl Henning, deputy director of PTO North America, blogs about a recent PROFINET training class, where a Detroit audience learned of the new Energy Management initiative for the automotive market.

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The Detroit PROFINET one-day training class concluded on March 13 with 160 registrations and 135 in attendance. Sometimes with a class this big it’s hard to handle the questions as the class proceeds, but we managed with this group. There were a lot of good questions and many questions sought even greater detail than we normally present, indicating the careful thought put into the question.

Being in front of an automotive crowd gave us the opportunity to update that community on a pertinent announcement from the PROFIBUS and PROFINET International (PI) 20th anniversary technical conference. We announced the beginning of a new initiative, instigated by the German automotive association, AIDA. The new initiative: Energy Management for PROFINET. The automotive industry concluded from serious study of its energy consumption that energy management at the device level offered the potential for large energy savings. We could use the word “green” here, but the incentive is also economic; energy costs money after all.

A Working Group has already begun work on an Energy Management Profile. In PROFI speak, a profile uses standard PROFIBUS and PROFINET communication, but organizes the data in a consistent, well-planned way. An existing example of a profile is the process automation profile that specifies how data from instruments is to be organized, ensuring that devices from all manufacturers use the same data format and the same error reporting. Work on the Energy Management profile is already well under way and results are expected later this year.

Ok, back to the class. This was our first one of 2009. We’ve edited out material to make it shorter than last year’s version, but we still ran long and didn’t finish until 5:00 pm. Yet over 90 percent of the course evaluations indicated the length was just right (and one even said “too short”). However, we’re editing some more. We’ll cut down the intromercial (to coin a word) and sharpen our focus in some other areas.

The course evaluation forms ask which sections could be reduced and which increased. No one advocated cutting anything. We were asked for more depth on safety, security, and integrating other buses, plus we were asked to add material for software programmers. Sorry to say the latter is definitely beyond the scope of this class. We won’t edit out anything on the topics where more depth was sought. Maybe we’ll do a few webinars to provide that depth.

Shielding and grounding recommended

In polite company we try not to speak about religion, politics, grounding or shielding. In our classes we successfully avoid the first two. For PROFIBUS and for PROFINET the official PI recommendation is to ground shielded cable at both ends and at any intermediate points. This is recommended because it’s desirable to bleed off any noise at the closest possible opportunity. To avoid other problems, the grounding points need to be at ground potential—the same ground potential. My impression is that outside North America they will be. Here, not so much, unless careful measures are taken. We recommend you take those measures.

We also recommend shielding and cannot understand why anyone would argue with that. Some do so argue though. A shield (properly grounded) will help keep the signal clean in electrically noisy environments, such as any industrial environment. The signal protocols cannot guard against electrical noise; only a shield can do that. But TCP can initiate retries if noise occurs, the arguers argue. True, but not helpful—it takes too long to retry and if the retries are frequent due to noise… Well, you get the picture.

There were really no negative comments about the class (unless you count the one that identified Instructor #1 as “old guy” instead of Carl). This is especially discouraging because Carl considers himself a young guy, but apparently trapped in an old guy’s body.  Anyway, the positive comments:
•    “Changing up the presenters and including giveaways kept things rolling; nice job.”
•    “Excellent amenities.”  (Those amenities included excellent cookies—chocolate chip with macadamia nuts and drizzled with chocolate. We’ll be using this hotel again!)
•    “I liked relying on the webinars for background info and the new focus on the PROFINET factory.” (The PROFINET factory is our virtual factory that we use to show the kinds of applications PROFINET covers.)
•    “Excellent job. Thanks.”
•    “High quality seminar. Great job.”
•    “Very good overview of PROFINET.”

And my favorite: “Professionally done; thankfully pleasant.” (To be good, training does not have to be dry and dull, in fact, it should be just the opposite. And that’s what we strive for in these classes.)

Come see for yourself. The next PROFINET class is in Austin on April 16, followed by a class May 6 in Jacksonville, Fla., and June 2 in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Seats are still available, so click here to register. 

Speaking of seats still available, there are a few seats left in our April full-week PROFINET Certified Network Engineer class. Click here to sign up on line.

For more on Carl Henning’s PROFIblog, visit

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