By Layne Alfred, Marketing Associate

PROFINET– what do you really know about it? Perhaps just that it’s a protocol– maybe even that it’s a standard Ethernet protocol. Let’s clear up any questions or uncertainties you have about what PROFINET is and why it has one of the largest installed bases of any Industrial Ethernet protocols.

PROFINET applicationsPROFINET is an industry standard communication protocol used to automate data collection and device control. It’s built to run over a standard Industrial Ethernet network. Not only is it one of the most common Industrial Ethernet protocols, it is also one of the most advanced, so you can expect a large variety of services and tools with it. PROFINET is also extremely fast and rugged, making it perfect for hazardous manufacturing environments that rely on real-time data. That’s why it’s the primary Industrial Ethernet protocol used by Siemens PLCs today and has been adopted by an entire ecosystem of 3rd party products.


PROFINET uses three main communication channels for automation:


PROFINET uses TCP/IP communication to transfer data to higher level IT systems. Read/write operations can be carried out in this channel and are most suitable for non-deterministic functions where results will vary with each new run. This channel is reserved for data that’s not incredibly urgent; real-time can carry out those functions.

  Real Time (RT)

Since PROFINET can function in real time, it’s an extremely valuable protocol for Industrial IoT where safety and security are highly scrutinized. PROFINET RT is typical I/O applications. This channel when utilized by PROFINET is ideal for instant data transfers (think predictive maintenance) and alarms.

  Isochronous Real Time (IRT)

This data exchange within PROFINET is the fastest channel and is used for the most demanding applications. Because the data it processes is usually very deterministic and won’t change unless another variable has changed, IRT provides very precise synchronization of applications.

Benefits of PROFINET

PROFINET can simultaneously communicate across all three channels, making it extremely scalable for a number of different devices and applications. This is just one of the many benefits of it for industrial automation environments: manufacturers can use PROFINET for everything from simple diagnostics to complex motion control automations. PROFINET provides a solution for manufacturers who utilize sensors, require real-time information and operate on an open network.

Additionally, PROFINET is extremely flexible, making it easy to conform to your existing infrastructure and eliminating the need to customize other expensive, complex and unmaintainable solutions. With PROFINET, it’s easy to integrate wired transmissions with wireless systems since it’s based on standard Ethernet.

PROFINET applicationsSince this protocol so easily integrates with your existing systems and networks, it’s an extremely sustainable option in a world where technology is always evolving. As an open protocol that run over Ethernet, PROFINET isn’t going away any time soon; in fact, because it meets the requirements of so many emerging IIoT methodologies, further PROFINET innovation is almost guaranteed.

Finally, no matter how many different types of devices are humming on your plant floor, you only need one PROFINET network, making everything from configuration to diagnostics simple and affordable. Plus, one network means one cable; machine data and IT data integrate, meaning manufacturers reduce overhead costs on cables and training. The fact that it easily provides real-time data also means that predictive and remote maintenance is a reality, greatly reducing downtime and maintenance costs.

So, let’s review! PROFINET, an industrial protocol that operates on a standard Ethernet network, offers benefits to manufacturers in rugged plant environments due to its openness, simplicity, speed, scalability and flexibility. Considering that some of the biggest issues in industrial manufacturing can benefit from these traits, it’s no wonder why PROFINET is one of the most widely adopted industrial protocols that exist today.

Finding the right PROFINET partner can make all the difference when developing a PROFINET device. Contact us today to kickstart your PROFINET project!



Layne Alfred

Layne Alfred

Marketing Associate

About the Author: As a firm believer that “content is king,” I love any and all writing and editing projects. When I’m not working on a blog or white paper, you can find me at the yoga studio.