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Profinet and CC-Link join forces to develop interfaces

01 December, 2015

Profibus and Profinet International (PI) and the CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) have announced plans to jointly develop standardised interfaces that will allow bi-directional communications between CC-Link IE and Profinet networks.

The two organisations have set up a joint working group to develop the technical specifications for the interfaces. The group held its first meeting at the recent SPS IPC Drives show in Germany. The development process is likely to take about a year to complete, after which the specifications will be made available to members of both organisations, who are expected to start implementing them in commercial products in 2017.

John Browett, the CLPA’s general manager for Europe, says that the move has been driven by market demand. At present, machine-builders are often forced to equip their machines with different networks for different markets and applications, while plant owners are limited in their choice of suitable machines.

Although there are already third-party interfaces that will link Profinet and CC-Link networks, these interfaces sometimes have limitations, Browett says. With the new “essentially transparent” interface, such issues will disappear, he predicts. Users will no longer have to worry about issues such as configuring gateways when integrating their machines and devices.

The move will also make it easier for the two networking systems to penetrate each other’s home markets. CC-Link is the dominant industrial communications network in Asia, while Profinet is particularly strong in Europe.

CLPA’s global director, Naomi Nakamura, predicts that the availability of the interfaces will allow the use of CC-Link IE and Profinet to grow “even faster”.

“With the combined global network of CLPA offices and PI associations, and the large number of available devices from members of both organisations,” she adds, “together we can open up additional markets for our members.”

“With the CC-Link Partner Association, we have gained a comparable partner whose networks are being used in many industries worldwide,” adds PI chairman, Karsten Schneider.

The two partners believe that their joint development will help to promote the use of open industrial networks. They argue that easily integrated networks will be essential for implementing manufacturing systems based on Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The new interfaces “will give users more flexibility when building their IIoT, Industry 4.0, or e-F@ctory enabled systems,” says Nakamura.

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