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Communication in automation is becoming increasingly direct, horizontally at field level as well as vertically through all hierarchy levels. Depending on the application and the price, graduated, matching industrial communication systems such as the Ethernet-based PROFInet, the field bus PROFIBUS and other systems like the sensor/actuator bus AS-Interface offer the ideal preconditions for transparent networking in all areas and levels of the automation process.

At sensor/actuator level the signals of the binary sensors and actuators are transmitted via a sensor/actuator bus. Here, a particularly simple, low-cost installation technique, through which data and a 24-volt power supply for the end devices are transmitted using a common medium, is an important requirement. The data are transmitted purely cyclically. AS-Interface is a suitable bus system for this field of applications.

At field level the distributed peripherals, such as I/O modules, measuring transducers, drive units, valves and operator terminals communicate with the automation systems via an efficient, real-time communication system. The transmission of the process data is effected cyclically, while alarms, parameters and diagnostic data also have to be transmitted acyclically if necessary. PROFIBUS meets these requirements and offers a transparent solution for manufacturing as well as for process automation.

At cell level, the programmable controllers such as PLC and IPC communicate with each other. The information flow requires large data packets and a large number of powerful communication functions. Smooth integration into company-wide communication systems, such as Intranet and Internet via TCP/IP and Ethernet are important requirements.

The IT revolution in automation technology is opening up new savings potentials in the optimization of system processes and makes an important contribution towards improved use of resources. Industrial communication systems have assumed a key function in this respect.

For further information on PROFIBUS visit the PROFIBUS website