Optimism Reigns at Profibus Vendors Event

The annual general assembly in Phoenix of Profibus suppliers detailed successful implementations and new directions for growth.

The news from the Profibus Trade Organization (PTO) annual general assembly Aug. 3-4 in Phoenix was optimistic, as leaders from the supplier-based group reported installed Profibus nodes up by about 20 percent—at more than 10 million—over last year. The technology is on track to hit 20 million nodes in another four years, organizers said. Profibus-enabled products continue to increase in number.

Mike Bryant, PTO executive director, described a dilemma faced by many marketing executives these days—whether to continue to exhibit at trade shows or to invest that money in other ways. The organization has reserved a large exhibit area just inside the front door of the ISA Expo to be held in Chicago’s McCormick Place Oct. 25-27. Bryant reported great success with a series of locally based seminars. A consensus of attendees seemed to agree that seminars offered a better return on investment than large trade shows.

Customer demands

Todd Lucey, general manager of Endress+Hauser, an instrumentation supplier with U.S. headquarters in Greenwood, Ind., presented the keynote address, and provided much food for thought. He has found that customers continue to demand more and more from their suppliers. No longer can an instrumentation supplier salesperson, for example, just present the latest products. People in the sales channel must become experts not only in their products but also in the industries they wish to sell into. They must help customers solve their unique problems and sometimes even help set up networks—even though they may only sell part of the system.

Profibus organizations have had a busy year, as reflected in the technology’s increasing acceptance. ProfiNet, the Ethernet implementation of Profibus, however, is still on the leading edge of the S-curve technology adoption cycle. Supporters at the Phoenix event announced that 120 ProfiNet products have been released, although most so far are from one company—Siemens. Some attendees have speculated that this network may be two years away from building a critical mass, but leaders expect to see a surge of products submitted for conformance evaluation before the end of this year.

Meanwhile, Dave Deibert, of Air Products and Chemicals, Allentown, Pa., and Scott Hauslee, instrumentation and control engineer at the Knoxville-based Tennessee Valley Authority, described successful Profibus applications to the assembly.

Rising tide

It appears that Profibus is achieving a mature status, with many products from many suppliers available for sale and not as much new development. On the other hand, investment in ProfiNet is on the rise.

Harry Forbes, an analyst at Dedham, Mass.-based ARC Advisory Group Inc., reported on the most recent study he has done on Industrial Ethernet, revealing a hefty compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the past three years, in the range of 35 percent to 45 percent. Forbes predicts about 50 percent CAGR for the next few years. This tide is bound to raise the ProfiNet boat.

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