PROFIBUS (Process Field Bus) is a standard for fieldbus communication in automation technology that was first released in 1989. It should not be confused with the PROFINET, the standard for Industrial Ethernet. PROFIBUS is openly published as part of IEC 61158. There are two variations of PROFIBUS in use today; the most commonly used PROFIBUS DP, and the lesser used, application specific, PROFIBUS PA:
PROFIBUS DP (Decentralised Peripherals) is used to operate sensors and actuators via a centralized controller in factory automation applications. The many standard diagnostic options, in particular, are focused on here.
PROFIBUS PA (Process Automation) is used to monitor measuring equipment via a process control system in process automation applications. This variant is designed for use in explosion/hazardous areas (Ex-zone 0 and 1). The Physical Layer (i.e. the cable) conforms to IEC 61158-2, which allows power to be delivered over the bus to field instruments, while limiting current flows so that explosive conditions are not created, even if a malfunction occurs. The number of devices attached to a PA segment is limited by this feature. PA has a data transmission rate of 31.25 kbit/s. However, PA uses the same protocol as DP, and can be linked to a DP network using a coupler device. The much faster DP acts as a backbone network for transmitting process signals to the controller. This means that DP and PA can work tightly together, especially in hybrid applications where process and factory automation networks operate side by side. In excess of 30 million PROFIBUS nodes were installed at the end of 2009 with five million of these being in the process industries.
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