EtherNet/IP, PROFINET, or both?

Dec 14, 2021 8:00:00 PM / by Rick Rockershousen posted in Ethernet TCP/IP, industrial networking, PROFIBUS, PROFINET

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Ask our Engineers Anything:

Should I implement EtherNet/IP, PROFINET, or both in my device, and how?

EtherNet/IP and PROFINET are two protocols that utilize and add value to standard ethernet technology.

Speed is often mentioned as a key benefit of PROFINET, while interoperability often goes into the EtherNet/IP column. Yet when it comes to one over the other, it's not so black and white. For product design and development, you may want to hedge your bets and support both.

The global industrial ethernet market is growing at 7.2% CAGR and expected to surpass $15 billion by 2027. Looking at market share, PROFINET is overall the leading Industrial Ethernet protocol worldwide, yet EtherNet/IP (EIP) is becoming more popular as an industrial networking standard.


Source: Global Industrial Ethernet Market, published by KBV research.

Since both PROFINET and EtherNet/IP are  widely adopted, this article will present some background information and offer three primary options for including them into your product design.

About EtherNet/IP (EIP) and PROFINET

With backing by Wisconsin-based, North American giant Rockwell Automation and others, EtherNet/IP has a strong presence in the US and Canada. Rockwell Automation has been in the game for years through ongoing development of their control networks.

PROFINET is very strong in Europe, with backing by Siemens and others. As mentioned, it is strong worldwide, including substantial market share in North America. While PROFINET is based on the PROFIBUS standard, it is not simply PROFIBUS over Ethernet. PROFINET is generally faster overall than EtherNet/IP, but it can require special hardware for some applications.

Open standards with governance

Part of the appeal of EtherNet/IP and PROFINET is that both are open standards, yet both also have governing bodies in place to guide development and ensure certain requirements are met.

PROFIBUS and PROFINET International (PI)

_pi-logo_d2d02c70cb

Known as PI for short, this organization has about 1,700 member companies globally and offers PROFIBUS and PROFINET competence centers, training centers, test labs and certifications, and various working groups and technical committees.

Visit the PI website to learn more

Open DeviceNet Vendors Association (ODVA)

ODVA-logo-r

Known as ODVA, the members of this global association are leading industrial automation companies. The stated mission of ODVA is to advance open, interoperable industrial automation technologies. ODVA's network protocol, the Common Industrial Protocol or CIP, is core to its mission, supporting the adoption of commercial-off-the-shelf products and standard internet and ethernet technologies.

Visit the ODVA website to learn more.

Note that Grid Connect is both a PI member and ODVA member.

 

EtherNet/IP and PROFINET considerations

As mentioned already, EIP and PROFINET are both open source for greater interoperability and more options to use off-the-shelf components. Following are important considerations when assessing these protocols for your product development plans.

Certification requirements

An important point to remember when adding one of these protocols to a device is that the device must be certified by the appropriate body, ODVA or PI, in order to be sold on the open market as an EtherNet/IP or PROFINET capable device.

This involves testing of the device in a certified lab, which runs a standard set of conformance tests on the product. There are costs associated with this testing and manufacturers should consult with the appropriate body to understand the timing, costs, and documentation needed.

Three implementation options

Device manufacturers looking to add industrial protocols to their device have three main options for getting this done.

1. Do-It-Yourself (DIY)

You can develop or buy a PROFINET or EtherNet/IP stack and run it on the native microcontroller of the device.

The DIY approach makes sense when the projected sales volumes justify the additional development expense. If the device manufacturer has a willing customer who has time to wait for the R&D and will buy sufficient quantities, then this approach makes sense.

Adding a new protocol stack to a device’s existing software base may require making hardware changes to the device as well. For example, adding a protocol stack to the software will increase the load on resources such as RAM and Flash memory. If the load is too much, then additional RAM and/or Flash will have to be added to the microcontroller PCB. Another reason for needing to change the PCB is if an Ethernet RJ45 Connector needs to be added to connect the device to the PROFINET or EtherNet/IP network.

When you consider this plus the learning curve for understanding the protocol plus certification costs, the DIY approach is not for the faint of heart. The trade-offs are lower Bill of Material (BOM) costs vs. longer time to market and much higher R&D costs.

2. Buy-the-stack-on-board

You can buy a chip or module with the stack already developed and interface it to the microcontroller of the device.

A buy-the-stack-on-board option avoids the long lead time and R&D expense of the DIY approach. It can be accomplished with a single protocol embedded module. Such a module typically interfaces with the device’s native microcontroller via a serial or SPI connection. This does not avoid the hardware R&D expense as the device’s PCB needs to be redesigned to accommodate the module, but this is typically a relatively simple and straightforward modification.

The interface through the serial port is also relatively simple and is typically done using the serial Modbus RTU protocol. Many devices have support for this already developed within the device microcontroller, so software development is often minimal. This makes time to market much faster than the DIY approach with much reduced R&D expense.

In addition, these modules often have been pre-certified (depending on the protocols certification rules), which makes certification of the OEM device faster and less costly. An example of such a module is Grid Connect’s EtherNet/IP XPort. This module is a cost-effective and quick time-to-market approach to adding EtherNet/IP to a device.

Note that we are working on a next generation EtherNet/IP module that adds wireless capability.

3. Future-proof-module

Finally, you can buy a module that has multiple variants supporting a variety of Industrial fieldbus protocols where all versions of the module have the same footprint.

Building on the module approach, this is the multiprotocol module with a uniform footprint, allowing for multiple fieldbus / industrial networking protocols to be added to a device without redesigning the PCB. Simply plug in a module with the desired protocol and the device is multilingual. Additional accommodations may be needed if the chosen field buses have different physical interfaces, such as RJ45 for Industrial Ethernet protocols or a DB9 connector for a fieldbus such as PROFIBUS. With these module families, the device microcontroller interfaces through serial or SPI interfaces to the module just like with the previous approach.

Typically, however, no other modifications to the device’s software are needed when switching from one protocol module to another. So instead of designing to add one or two protocols, such as EtherNet/IP and PROFINET, suddenly all of the major protocols—like PROFIBUS, DeviceNet, and Modbus TCP, to name a few— are available with little to no additional cost, other than certification.

This approach makes sense when the volume is low, as the modules are typically more expensive than the other two approaches, or when maximum flexibility is needed.

Available EIP and PROFINET modules 

Grid Connect offers the Unigate IC module family from Deutschmann Automation, a German company that's been making network components for industrial data communication for over thirty years. As pre-certified communication interfaces, Unigate IC modules can be directly integrated into the electronics of the terminal device without changes in the firmware, which is important when the firmware has been certified. UNIGATE IC is an excellent alternative to developing your own interfaces. 

 

 

I hope we have answered some of your own questions about these popular industrial networking protocols. If not, please don't hesitate to contact us to discuss your questions or concerns.

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The NET-Wars (Fieldbus wars reloaded)

Mar 29, 2016 2:06:27 PM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in connectors, Ethernet, General, IEEE, industrial ethernet, industrial ethernet fieldbus, PROFINET, security

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Industrial Ethernet fieldbus issues of the past are coming to life again in a new form. Large protocol interest groups and manufacturers of industrial equipment have a new platform to compete for revenue and to keep brand loyalty. Ethernet-based protocols are changing with time, many companies have similar protocol implementations as they essentially have been creating the same standard Ethernet connectors. The biggest issue at hand today is that there is no interoperability between software, for instance, Ethercat doesn’t connect with Profinet and Profinet doesn’t connect to Ethernet IP. Time Sensitive Networks (TSN), which is part of the IEEE standards association, is attempting to enhance Ethernet standards by making high accuracy time synchronization and seamless redundancy features of standard Ethernet. As industrial Ethernet continues to develop, the biggest concern is if security standards will be integrated into new protocol.

Read more: http://www.procentec.com/about/news/2016/the-net-wars-fieldbus-wars-reloaded/

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Grid Connect is a World Class Manufacturer

Aug 17, 2015 8:59:54 AM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in 900MHz, BLE, Bluetooth, CANbus, chips, connection, Custom, development, DeviceNet, Ethernet, firmware, General, Grid Connect, hardware, I2C, Illinois, manufacturer, manufacturing, modbus, modbus tcp, modules, Naperville, network, NRE, packaging, private-labeled, PROFIBUS, PROFINET, RS-232, RS-422, RS-485, software, SPI, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, wifi

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WeAre_Banner_Manufacturer_2

Grid Connect Inc. is an ISO 9001-certified, world-class quality manufacturer. Our chips, modules and products are used by thousands of companies around the world to provide a network connection to their devices. All of our products are designed, assembled, programmed and tested in Illinois, USA. All final tests, firmware loading and packaging is done at Grid Connect in Naperville, Illinois.

All Grid Connect products can be customized and private-labeled to a specific customer’s requirements. It can be as simple as a software change to increase buffer sizes or as complex as a new hardware and software design. In all cases, Grid Connect will provide your company with a fixed price quotation for the NRE/development work and the production cost for the final product. We are happy to private label your product and ship it to you with the correct labeling and documentation.

Some networking and protocol technologies that Grid Connect specializes in, include:

  • Ethernet
  • Ethernet/IP
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • ZigBee
  • 900MHz
  • PROFIBUS
  • PROFINET
  • CANbus
  • DeviceNet
  • Modbus
  • Modbus TCP

Grid Connect also specialized in all serial standards, including:

  • RS-232
  • RS-485
  • RS-422
  • SPI
  • I2C


For more specific detailing of the various hardware and software options we provide, call the Grid Connect office at +1 (800) 975-GRID or fill out the form here.

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Grid Connect is PROFINET!

Nov 14, 2011 1:59:21 PM / by Adam Justice posted in General, hardware, Products, PROFIBUS, PROFIBUS/PROFINET, PROFINET

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Above you will find the latest video from PROFIBUS International starring our own Mike Justice.

Grid Connect is committed to PROFINET and we provide an expanding selection of PROFINET products and services.  Our engineering staff have deep expertise and knowledge in all things PROFINET and are able to help deliver leading edge solutions.

Have a PROFINET challenge that is not solved by hardware out on the market today?  Contact us to discuss custom engineering and other PROFINET solutions.

You can find our full line of PROFINET products available at https://gridconnect.com/industrial-protocols/profinet.html

For more information on PROFINET check out All Things PROFINET and the PROFIblog

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Surprising PROFINET Market Share Numbers!

Aug 11, 2010 6:21:19 PM / by Mike Justice posted in Events, General, PI, PROFIBUS, PROFIBUS Trad Organization, PROFIBUS/PROFINET, PROFINET, PTO

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PROFINET-Market-Share

Just last week I attended the PROFIBUS Trade Organization’s (PTO) annual meeting.  It was two days of great presentations and networking with other members.

The first major announcement was that the PTO is changing its name to PROFIBUS & PROFINET International North America (PI).  They also announced a new website for PROFINET information and application examples.  You can visit the new site today at allthingsprofinet.com.

As you can see in the pie chart above PROFINET is making some impressive gains in market share amongst the other Industrial Ethernet based protocols.

Another big announcement made at the annual meeting was that GE’s Intelligent Platforms Division and several other semiconductor companies have committed to using PROFINET going forward.

While many companies who are in full production are using PROFIBUS today, those who are working on new designs are looking closely at PROFINET for future Ethernet implementations.  PROFINET seems to have addressed the levels of performance needed and the real-time issues found in basic Ethernet, Real-time Ethernet, and Isochronous Real Time Ethernet.  The first two types of PROFINET (Basic and Real-Time Ethernet) can be implemented using standard Ethernet controllers.  The isochronous version of PROFINET requires special Ethernet MAC controllers that can guarantee packet delivery.  We believe that most applications out there can be accomplished using standard Ethernet controllers.

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PROFIBUS Guides Available, One-Day Training Classes Coming to a City Near You!

Aug 2, 2010 2:03:03 PM / by Adam Justice posted in General, PROFIBUS, PROFIBUS Guide, PROFIBUS Training, PROFIBUS/PROFINET, PROFINET, PROFINET Training

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If you are a company who uses PROFIBUS networks in your automation environment, the PROFIBUS Trade Organization (PTO) was set up to help people like you.  The PTO can provide you with a wealth of information on planning, setting up and installing your PROFIBUS network.

Now available from the PTO are a full set of Guides for Planning, Installing Cabling and Assembly and Commissioning your PROFIBUS network.

Visit the PTO Website, to download all of their installation Guides.

In addition to these great guides, the PTO also puts on one-day training classes throughout the USA and Canada.  We at Grid Connect are PTO members and sponsors of these classes.  We generally attend most of the classes and talk with customers about our great selection of PROFIBUS and PROFINET products including PROFIBUS Troubleshooting Kits, PROFIBUS Hubs, and More.

Below is the class schedule for the remainder of the year:

August 17, 2010            PROFIBUS One-day Training Class Tulsa, OK

August 26, 2010            PROFINET One-day Training Class Cleveland, OH

September 2, 2010        PROFINET One-day Training Class Denver, CO

September 14, 2010      PROFINET One-day Training Class Toronto, ON Canada

September 16, 2010      PROFINET One-day Training Class Montreal, QC Canada

September 22, 2010      PROFIBUS One-day Training Class Baltimore, MD

October 6, 2010             PROFIBUS One-day Training Class Omaha, NE

October 21, 2010           PROFINET One-day Training Class Dallas, TX

November 9, 2010         PROFINET One-day Training Class Detroit, MI

Via The PROFIblog

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