CONFUSION AND ETHERCAT DEVELOPMENT
Spending a few days over here in Merry Olde England! Besides drinking Strongbow and eating Pastys and Beef with Yorkshire pudding to my hearts content and my stomachs sorrow, I’ve met with some customers and talked about the direction that Ethernet seems to be taking.
The only thing that’s not in doubt is that for systems using a Rockwell Logix processor (Control Logix or CompactLogix) the gig goes to EtherNet/IP. That the easiest one to integrate, it’s where there is the most support and the most available products. No brainer for that.
After that it gets mighty confusing. Profinet is just not taking off like we expected. My customer here in England reported to me that they had 3-4 customers a quarter calling about Profinet a year ago and NONE NOW! Yes, none. I suspect that device makers aren’t converting their huge line of Profibus products to Profinet. It’s just too darned expensive. Instead, they’re continuing to sell Profibus and using the Proxy to put the data on Profinet. It’s not a bad solution at all for the customer. The installed base of devices is on Profibus. You can link a whole bunch of Profibus networks through a Profinet link.
Siemens continues to confuse the picture. I hear that all new processors are going IRT. If that’s true, why should anyone invest in Profinet IO? You’d be obsolete before you started.
Another factor is all the companies like Softing and Hilscher and all the rest selling hardware solutions. I don’t have anything against them, in fact, I’d be glad to quote you on developing a solution for you; but no one really wants to add their ASICs to their boards. More space, more money and single source issues to resolve.
Oh and what is my customer hearing about from his customers; ETHERCAT! Maybe with the confusion that’s reigning in the Profinet market, people are saying the hell with Rockwell and Siemens, let’s choose EtherCat. Time will tell…