Michael Bryant, executive director, kicked off the tenth general assembly of the Profibus Trade Organization (PTO) Aug. 4 in Scottsdale, Ariz., introducing more than 50 members in attendance. Profibus is an industrial network, or fieldbus, that is unique, according to the organization, in that it is strong both in discrete and in process manufacturing. PTO is the North American marketing arm for Profibus International.
The key word for the three-day event was “hybrid.” According to speakers, most other fieldbuses specialize in either process manufacturing or factory automation. Profibus offers a solution incorporating a natural coordination of both types of manufacturing. Using analysis from Dedham, Mass.-based ARC Advisory Group, speakers pointed to great market opportunities in the industry groups that fall into hybrid manufacturing, such as batch processing which combines aspects of process and discrete manufacturing.
Profibus International Chairman Edgar Kuester reviewed the history of Profibus, noting that in its first 12 years ending in 2001, the international organization grew to 1,000 members. Profibus boasted 10 million total installed nodes by the end of 2003, Kuester said, and the first two quarters of 2004 witnessed growth by another 1.2 million nodes. Kuester challenged members to help Profibus reach 20 million nodes by the end of 2007.
With the growth of Ethernet on the factory floor, reflected by the development of Profinet as the Profibus technology for Ethernet implementation, Kuester announced that a Working Group of Profibus International is addressing data security. The Group is due to release a first draft of a report by the end of 2004. There are eight working groups working on various aspects of process manufacturing, and twelve more whose charter includes both process and factory automation.
Look for increased visibility of Profibus in the next year.