The CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) and PROFIBUS & PROFINET International (PI) have announced a collaboration to develop and distribute the use of open industrial networks. According to the organizations, as more automation users prepare for the arrival of Industry 4.0- or the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)-based manufacturing systems, easy integration of various networks such as CC-Link IE and PROFINET is essential.

“This will give users more flexibility when building their IIoT-, Industry 4.0- or e-F@ctory-enabled systems,” says Naomi Nakamura, global director of CLPA. “With the combined global network of CLPA offices and PI associations and the large number of available devices from members of both organizations, we can open up additional markets for our members. As a result, the use of CC-Link IE and PROFINET will grow even faster.”

While the demand for intelligent communication among automation users will continue to increase—thanks to the rise of Industry 4.0 and the IIoT—the groups say the existing heterogeneous landscape of Industrial Ethernet standards creates a problem, with machines using multiple communication systems unable to exchange data. “Machine builders are forced to equip their machines with different networks, or plant owners are limited in their selection of suitable machines,” the groups say. “There has been a growing need for manufacturer-specific transfer specifications and complicated, made-to-order converters to overcome this problem.”

CLPA and PI aim to enable transparent, easy two-way communication between CC-Link IE and PROFINET devices through standardized interfaces. To accomplish this goal, the groups have established a joint working group to develop the necessary technical specifications. Upon completion, the open industrial network will be available to members of both organizations for implementation.