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PI announces plans to merge Profibus PA with Profinet

20 January, 2016

Profibus and Profinet International (PI) has announced plans to merge its Profibus PA and Profinet technologies to allow plant operators to continue using installed technologies while giving them access to the latest technologies, including Industry 4.0.

PI has also:

•  set up a working group with more than 30 participants to identify the requirements for communications in Industry 4.0 environments, and to standardise them; and

•  agreed on the design of a compact M12 power connector for Profinet that can carry 16A.

The multi-phase project to merge Profibus PA with Profinet will start by connecting existing PA systems, followed by the gradual integration or development of Profinet technologies needed for PA.

PI points out that Profinet is already used for process-related applications that do not need explosion protection – in the water and food sectors, for example. Here, Profinet acts as a backbone as well as extending down to the field level, where it provides functions such as network diagnostics and topology detection.

PI's new L-coded M12 connector can carry 16A and is smaller than 7/8" connectors

PI has already specified ways to connect Profibus PA segments to Profinet via standardised intelligent links. Work is now underway to update the PA profile to allow field devices to be connected directly to Profinet, as well as mapping them for use in non-hazardous areas. PI is also working on Ethernet-based technologies for use in hazardous areas, as well as longer cable operating distances.

PI has produced a White Paper on its plans for PA (

The first step for PI’s new Industry 4.0 working group will be to define relevant use cases. It will assess new and existing technologies for their potential use in Industry 4.0 production systems, and analyse their standardisation.

The new L-coded M12 connector will supersede the earlier A-coded M12 and 7/8” connectors for new IP65/67 devices, carrying four times the current of the former, while saving space compared to the latter. The L-coded M12 connector is currently being standardised internationally, and is already being offered by manufacturers including Harting, Hummel, Lumberg (Belden), Murr Elektronik, Phoenix Contact, Siemens and Weidmuller.

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