Fieldbus & Industrial Networking

Tailored to the demands of the future

June 2020 Fieldbus & Industrial Networking

Pepperl+Fuchs has developed the new LB Profinet gateway so LB remote I/O systems can be easily connected to the Profinet world. End-to-end communication guarantees that the intelligence already available in the field can be put to optimal use. This will ensure that even currently existing plants are prepared to meet future requirements and Industrial Internet of Things.

Process plants all around the world need to undergo comprehensive modernisation at regular intervals. This generally involves replacing obsolete control systems and bringing things up to speed with modern technological demands. It is crucial to make the respective plant future-proof in the long term by using new technologies. Generally, it is important that devices used at the field level do not have to be replaced at high cost, but can instead be maintained for continued use. This is exactly the kind of situation where remote I/O technology can be used. The technology makes it possible to seamlessly connect both conventional 4 … 20 mA devices and discrete sensors to a modern bus protocol. Pepperl+Fuchs has developed the new remote I/O LB Profinet gateway for owners who want to convert their process plants to Profinet control technology as a part of such modernisation measures. This gateway makes it possible to continue using traditional measurement technology at the field level and connect it to the very latest control system technology. This can mean considerable cost savings, especially in the case of large process plants.

Take full advantage of all the benefits of HART

More than 80% of all field devices already support the HART protocol. The new gateway therefore offers not only conventional Profinet functionality, but also full access to all connected HART devices. Users also have access to HART auxiliary variables as a second measuring value in addition to process variables. The Profinet gateway not only allows users to read the sensor measurements themselves, but also to access auxiliary variables cyclically every 500 milliseconds – 160 messages per second for fully occupied remote I/O systems – meaning that a single measuring point can supply much more information than was previously the case.

It goes without saying that this method of data exchange is highly efficient for plant operators, since additional sensors are unnecessary in locations where secondary measured values need to be recorded. For example, a pressure transducer can supply the current process value – depending on the measurement type set. HART variables can be used to transmit additional parameters such as sensor temperature, electronics temperature and pressure. The accuracy of the analog measured value and the functionality of the devices can also be checked. It used to be the case that cyclic calibration of sensors could only be carried out in a workshop after a time-consuming removal operation. In future, the new gateway will allow this task to be completed quickly and conveniently online via HART.

But the HART IP protocol allows access to more than just the device parameterisation – the complete diagnostics of the individual field device can also be read out if necessary. The brief diagnostic information contained in each HART command sent plays a vital role in this connection. Based on these values, an asset management system decides whether the complete diagnostics should be read out to obtain detailed sensor diagnostics. During servicing, the data can be used to identify and fix possible errors more quickly. Since both the Profinet and the HART IP protocols run via the same wire the new gateway is characterised by a high level of flexibility. It is also a high-performance solution, since up to 80 field devices can be connected to a fully occupied remote I/O system and communicate without a time delay.

The new LB Profinet gateway is a great choice not just when modernising existing plants, but also when expanding them. As the narrowest system on the market with an ultra-compact housing design, it really plays to its strengths in cramped conditions. A switch from conventional wiring to remote I/O also reduces installation costs in terms of underwiring and marshalling cabinets. This saves space and a lot of money. The gateway can also be used when building new plants. For example, it makes sense to use it anywhere that the Profinet protocol is used for communication and the necessary measurement technology is available, but not always as a Profinet device. The relevant data can now easily be gathered via remote I/O using the gateway.

Perfectly suited to IIoT applications

To make process plants future-proof, it is important to tailor them to the requirements of IIoT. Owing to Ethernet-based communication, the new Profinet gateways facilitate the seamless integration of all device and process data. HART IP enables the gateways to import diagnostic data available in the field into a different system via a second communication channel (parallel to the traditional automation pyramid). The data can then be made available via a cloud network or similar, or copied to the user’s analysis tool of choice for predictive maintenance and process optimisation purposes. This provides seamless support for the NOA architecture (NAMUR Open Architecture) designed by NAMUR.

The developers of the new gateway prioritised ease of use. For example, device health can be read out simply by looking at the RGB LEDs. The colours were selected in accordance with NAMUR NE 107. Green stands for ‘active diagnostics’, red for ‘failure’, blue for ‘maintenance required’, yellow for ‘out of specification’ and orange for ‘function check’. The gateway is also the only device on the market to feature an extra-large display that enables easier on-site commissioning and the display of diagnostic data down to the sensor level. To ensure uniform representation of the various messages, assignment to the diagnostic display was carried out on the basis of the NAMUR NE 107 symbols. This allows users to see at a glance whether communication with the control system is running smoothly, whether the internal bus is operating correctly and the HART device is being detected and whether an error is present in the module. All diagnostic and status information is displayed very clearly and in some cases even in plain text. This ensures not only quick and easy operation of the gateway, but also highly transparent processes.

An intelligent redundancy concept for a high level of reliability

The developers of the gateway implemented an intelligent redundancy concept that prevents failures and offers maximum network stability for critical applications. The device therefore features two Ethernet interfaces and an integrated switch that safeguards network functionality on the basis of the Medium Redundancy Protocol (MRP). If a cable fails, the data packets that are transmitted via this cable may no longer be received. To restrict the failure to the damaged device or the faulty part of the cable, the ring network is reconfigured so that the data packets can be sent via an alternative route. The integrated switch saves a lot of money in this respect since no additional hardware is required.

Since all the existing LB I/O modules from Pepperl+Fuchs are compatible with the Profinet gateway, they can continue to be used with the new device. In plants that are already using the LB system, for example, there is no need to carry out new explosive atmosphere assessments, since the sample calculations typically produced for configurations will still be valid. This cuts the time and expense associated with installation significantly. Commissioning the LB Profinet gateway is very simple with GSDML from the PROFINET master and no DTM is required. It is also possible to configure parameters when setting up the system and modules via GSDML and, for example, to switch line fault detection on or off. If field devices are installed in inaccessible parts of the plant, however, parameterisation cannot be performed on-site with a HART modem. A DTM is available for such cases as a way of establishing a transmission path from the system level. Operators can complete parameterisation from the comfort of the maintenance station. All of the basic settings, such as IP address, can be easily configured directly at the gateway.

Top-notch security for worldwide use

The world is becoming more and more networked, so the risk of unauthorised access is growing constantly. With this in mind, the new Profinet gateway provides optimum protection for automation components and systems by meeting all the necessary safety requirements, such as standard IEC 62443. The device also holds all the necessary international approvals, making it ideal for use anywhere in the world. The gateway is available with ATEX, IECEx, UL, INMETRO and EAC certificates and is also approved for installation in Zone 2, Class I/Div. 2.


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