Friday, August 25, 2017

PROFINET Installation Tips & Tricks On Guidelines


Are your PROFINET assets installed within specification? How do you ensure high network availability?

Profinet is a very widely utilised Industrial Ethernet technology and is respected for its advanced diagnostics, simple commissioning, and robustness within various industrial environments. Within the installation and implementation of a Profinet network, various precautions should be taken, and standards put in place that should be adhered to. Without such adherence to the guidelines, communication issues may arise.

Minimizing Interference and Noise

Cable clearance guidelines
Profinet cables running in close proximity to high voltage machinery and unshielded high voltage cables can cause severe EMC interference and disruption of the networks communications.
  • Always maintain a minimum 20cm separation distance between Profinet cables and un-shielded supply cables (>400V)
  • Fiber optics should be considered when running though an area with substantial risk of EMC interference 
  • Utilise earthed metallic cable trays or conduit to protect cabling from interference when running between cabinets.
Proper Grounding Techniques Implemented
Proper grounding is crucial for all Profinet Installations, Cables should be earthed at each device, and as the cable enters and exits cabinets to the functional earthing system.
Why is this important? Profinet cables have a shield that surrounds the cores, to protect the signal from noise and EMC injection. The shield carries any pickup to earth, the path from where the noise is picked up, to where  it is drained to earth should be as short as possible.

Utilise the right network components for your PROFINET Network

Bad connectors = Bad communications!

Always use Profinet connectors, standard RJ45 connectors are not acceptable for industrial environments:
  • Industrial RJ45 connectors have an steel housing that earth the cables shield within the device
  • Connector offers cable strain relief, connectors clamp onto the cables sheath to ensure the cores do not slip loose under movement device or cable movement
  • Rugged industrialised design
When building up cables, be sure to utilise an appropriate Profinet stripping tool, in order to reduce accidental wiring faults and ensure a consistent connection at each device.

Managed Switches
Although utilising managed switches is not a prerequisite for a Profinet network, it is extremely useful, and crucial for consistent up time, high network availability and ease of maintenance and troubleshooting. An un-managed switch has no built in intelligence, except to send incoming Ethernet frames out to the right port (Port the destination device is connected to). 
Managed switches add intelligence, supporting a number of useful IT protocols. Some of the features that a managed switch will offer you over an un-managed switch:
  • Integrated SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) and LLDP (Link Layer Discovery Protocol), specialised protocols allowing users to retrieve data and statistics saved within switches, such as retries, real-time bandwidth utiilisation, network topology
  • Mirror port, a managed switch will allow you set up a mirror port that channels all the switches data to a single configured port. This is extremely useful if you want to run diagnostics on your Profinet network without interrupting transmission. You can utilise Profinet Engineering tools such as Procentec Netilities to monitor all network traffic on a mirror port and provide valuable diagnostic information to user.
  • Certain managed switches can be utilised for the creation of redundant network structures
  • Advanced features, may include: Loop protection, advanced VLAN functionality, More precise diagnostics and control of network traffic

Precise Commissioning, Maintenance and Diagnostic Tools

With any industrial automation technology, specialized tools, software and network components can assist you with various tasks, from: Network commission, upgrade and to run diagnostics. There are plenty of great tools available on the market. Some of the more popular tools imperative for your installation are listed below:

Dedicated PROFINET diagnostics engineering tool. Generating a live list and providing various crucial statistics about the network. Netilities is crucial when commissioning Profinet networks, providing maintenance tasks and troubleshooting problems. You can interface Netilities with you network using a standard Ethernet/WLAN port on a PC, or the ProfiTap for a secure connection.

If you don't have a mirror port available on a managed switch by the PLC, you may require a dedicated tap device, that allows you to monitor traffic and information running through the network. A tap device can also be a more secure way to connect you PC to your industrial network, allowing only one way traffic for monitoring.

Permanent diagnostics monitoring, trending and network overview. The Atlas will assist you managing and maintaining large factory networks by providing you with insight and knowledge of the networks health, state and performance. The Atlas offers a unique Quality Factor rating, that takes a weighted algorithm of the networks performance and risk and displays this in a user friendly and interpret-able manner.

Internationally certified training ensuring site competence 

One of the first steps all organisations should take to ensure a successful Profinet Integration is ensure all stakeholders involved with the implementation have the necessary training, foundation understanding and certification.

The PROFINET / PROFIBUS Competence Center of Southern Africa runs the Certified PROFINET Engineers Course periodically on our scheduled course at our offices, alternatively at a sites convenience. 

Why should I attend training?
Certified PROFINET Engineers course provides the foundation for a clear site competence, knowledge and know how. Training is crucial for any installers, designers and C&I Maintenance staff. 

What will be covered?
The PROFINET Engineers Course combines in-depth theoretical knowledge along with hands-on practical exposure. 

How long is the course?
The Certified PROFINET Engineers Course spans over 2.5 days, with an written and practical examination to be completed on the last day. Lunch will be provided each day.

How do i sign up?
Contact the IDX Academy to obtain additional information, booking forms and pricing  |  (+27) 11-548-9960  |  WEBSITE

For more information please feel free to contact the PROFIBUS / PROFINET Competence Centre  |  +27 11 548 9960  |

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Bridging SQL to Profibus


A client came to us with a situation where he required some data on his SQL database to be sent to his PLC. In his case, he has a couple of sensors inserting data directly to his SQL database and he needed these data to be processed by his Profibus PLC controller so that the correct actions could be taken.

The solution accepted by the client was a SQL to Profibus bridge. IDX offered to provide a custom software that would extract the SQL data in real-time and expose the extracted data as a Modbus TCP slave device. The data could then be converted to a Profibus protocol using a gateway such as the Anybus X-Gateway AB9001, and sent directly to the PLC controller.


We provided the client with a custom software called IDX 8. IDX 8 is a customised software offered by IDX, it contains a suite of different functionalities which includes tag management, remote monitoring, historian, alarms and events, data exchange, etc. The function of interest here is its data exchange component which allows for real-time data to be shared with various different systems.
After the client installed IDX 8 on his test server that he brought over for a demonstration of our proposed solution. We continued to setup IDX 8 to extract the SQL data and expose it as a Modbus slave, the steps for the setup are as follows:
  • Setup Data Exchange service
  • Setup SQL interface
  • Setup Modbus Slave interface
After the setup we demonstrated to the client that the data was indeed being extracted from the SQL database, this is shown below using the “Live Tag View” function that IDX 8 supplies:
The ANYBUS X-Gateway AB9001
To configure the AB9001, all that is required is an “IPConfig.exe” tool supplied by HMS and a web browser. We used the “IPConfig.exe” tool to setup the IP address of the AB9001 gateway then configured the Modbus settings using a web browser by accessing the device’s web interface using the assigned IP address.
The hardest part in this process was the mapping of the Modbus transactions to instruct the Modbus master to read the correct values from the correct Modbus slave registers. Once that was done, we used the “Transaction Monitor” function that is provided by the device through its web server to demonstrate to the client that the values read by IDX 8 was indeed being exposed as a Modbus slave device. This is shown in the image below:
Setting up the Anybus X as a PROFIBUS slave
Setting up the Profibus DP slave on the Anybus X-Gateway was done by just assigning a slave address to the device on its “Profibus DP V-1” menu in its web server. After that we then checked the mapping of the Modbus Master registers to the Profibus DP Slave device using the “Mapping Overview” page provided by the web server.
To confirm that the gateway was indeed ready for Profibus communication, we setup a Profibus Master simulation using a tool called Profitrace from Procentec. We demonstrated to the client that the Profibus Master was indeed in data communications with the gateway and that data from that was originally from the SQL was indeed being sent through to the simulated master, this is shown in the image below:

Author: Jackson Kao