What is ProfiNet : Architecture, Working, Types & Its Applications

Profinet technology was developed & published by PROFIBUS & PROFINET International in early 2000. PROFINET is an innovative & open-standard Industrial Ethernet solution used for exchanging the data between controllers & devices in industrial automation. PROFINET concept simply satisfies all the industrial automation technology requirements by using IT standards like TCP/IP & XML for communicating, configuring & diagnosing the field devices/ machines. So, it is the well-adopted Industrial Ethernet solution. So, this article gives brief information on Profibus – working with applications.

What is Profinet?

PROFINET (process field Net) is an industrial communication standard based on international standards which are designed for exchanging data between devices and controllers in an industrial control system. Here, controllers are PLCs,  PACs, or DCSs whereas devices are vision systems, I/O blocks, RFID readers,  process instruments, drives, proxies, etc. Since this is an open standard, so many manufacturers have designed PROFINET products like PACs, PLCs, Robots, Drives, IOs, Proxies & diagnostic tools.

By using this industrial communication standard, we can connect HMI, PLC, Distributed I/O, a sensor, different transmitters, VFD, and actuators on a single network. Profinet provides a quicker response time thus the data collection becomes even better.

Industrial Profinet is available with shielding which gives superior performance within an electrically noisy surrounding. To identify Profinet devices, it should be defined by device name with IP address. Every device within a network should be allocated by IP address to communicate. Profinet is used as a remote I/O similar to Profibus-DP to provide a very quick speed of communication.

In the bigger network, a network switch is used for connecting Profinet for simple distribution. The device of profinet is identified through valid IP addresses. For instance, if the profinet device has a IP address where the first three digits include network information & the last digit is a device number.

ProfiNet Architecture

PROFINET is a communication protocol that is mainly designed for exchanging data between controllers as well as devices within an automation setting. So it is the most widely used Industrial based Ethernet solution. As PROFINET is an open standard, then a number of manufacturers have developed different products of PROFINET like PLCs, Robots, PACs, Proxies, IOs, diagnostic tools, Drives, etc.
PROFINET simply defines cyclic & acyclic communication between different components like diagnostics, alarms, functional safety, and additional information. So, PROFINET uses standard Ethernet as a communication medium for connecting these components.


PROFINET components in a network are connected by Ethernet cables and it allows other Ethernet protocols for coexisting in a similar infrastructure. In addition to PROFINET, you can use other protocols based on Ethernet to balance the network like SNMP, OPC UA, HTTP, or MQTT.
The ProfiNet architecture based on ISO/OSI model is shown below. The PROFINET lives at 7 layers of the ISO/OSI mode which is the application layer. Generally, this seven-layer ISO/OSI model simply defines the communication system’s abstraction layers.

Profinet Architecture
Profinet Architecture

ProfiNet Working

Industrial automation frequently needs high-speed as well as deterministic communication which means delivering messages precisely once they are expected. So, PROFINET should make sure that the messages are delivered at a suitable speed & determinism based on the task. But not all applications need similar performance.

PROFINET delivers data using different communication channels as shown in the above architecture to ensure suitable performance like TCP/IP or UDP/IP, RT (PROFINET Real-Time) IRT (Isochronous Real-Time), and TSN (Time Sensitive Networking).

PROFINET uses TCP/IP otherwise UDP/IP communication, especially for nontime critical tasks like configuration as well as parameterization. Because of the additional latency & jitter connected with communication based on IP, this technique is inappropriate for time-critical tasks.

PROFINET uses an RT channel for delivering data in a very quick and deterministic way to use in time-critical-based applications. PROFINET RT fulfills the necessities of the majority of time-critical applications. So the overall performance mainly depends on the design of the network, however, you can attain cycle times from 250 µs – 512 ms. So, you do not require special configuration or hardware to utilize the real-time mechanism of PROFINET because all the products of PROFINET are equipped with this capacity.

PROFINET IRT is used to increase performance so that it reduces changeable data delays by increasing the rules utilized to switch Ethernet traffic & also creating special rules for the traffic of PROFINET. This IRT is optional & required only in exact high-performance-based applications like printing presses & packing machines.

The most recent PROFINET specification V2.4 launches a fourth communication channel like PROFINET over TSN. This is a new technology that sits on the data link layer in the ISO/OSI Model. It is a set of IEEE 802 standards that is used to make Ethernet deterministic by default. Some of the IEEE standards are; IEEE 802.1AS, IEEE 802.1-2018, IEEE 802.1Q-2018, IEEE 802.1CB & IEEE 802.1Q-2018.

ProfiNet Types

Profinets are available in two types based on cables used like copper cables and fiber optic cables.

Profinet Copper Cable

This is a green-colored and 4-wire shielded cable and it supports up to 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet at 100 meters distance. By using this cable, Full Duplex transmission is achieved which means the data is transmitted in two directions simultaneously. In addition, for 1 Gbps transmission rates, 8-core copper cables are used.

ProfiNet Copper Cable
ProfiNet Copper Cable

The PROFINET copper cables are available in four types type-A, type-B, type-R & type-C.

  • Type-A copper cables are mainly used for fixed installations.
  • Type-B copper cables are used where flexing is present. These types of cables can resist vibrations or occasional motion.
  • Type-R copper cables are used in robot applications.
  • Type C copper cables are used in specialized applications and they can resist movement as well as dynamic environments. For instance, rotary machines.
  • Other copper cables are also there like trailing cables used for moving parts, buried cables used in underground communication, and flame retardant non-corrosive cables used for fire protection.

Profinet Fiber Optic Cables

These cables use two parallel wires which are used for the assembly of connectors directly. These types of cables have up to 100 Mbit/s speeds & also full duplex communication.

Fiber Optic Cable
Fiber Optic Cable

These types of cables provide many benefits like they can cover kilometers of distances, and provides total electrical isolation between plant regions. In addition, these cables are resistant to electromagnetic interference. These cables are available in two types Type B & Type C where Type B type cables are used for flexible or stationary use and Type C cables are used for special applications like vibration, permanent movement, etc.

ProfiNet Vs Ethernet

The differences between Profinet and Ethernet are discussed below.



PROFINET is the Industrial Ethernet solution that is developed by PROFIBUS & PI (PROFINET International). Ethernet is a very famous network communication medium used for creating networks globally.
It is used for exchanging data between devices & controllers. It is used for connecting nodes in a LAN.
PROFINET sits on the application layer of the ISO/OSI model because it is an application. Ethernet sits on (the physical layer and data link layer.
As compared to Ethernet, it runs at very high transmission speeds. Its transmission speed is low.

ProfiNet Vs Profibus

The differences between Profinet and Profibus are discussed below.



Profinet protocol is a control center level & controller level protocol. Profibus protocol is a controller-level protocol.
It uses bus topology. It uses a token ring topology.
It runs on Ethernet which is a stochastic system. It runs on RS485 which is a bus system.
The cable used in this protocol is a 4-pair screened cable. The cable used in this protocol is a twisted pair screened cable.
The max length of cable in between two repeaters is 100 meters. The max length of cable in between two repeaters ranges from 100 to 200meters based on the bit rate used.
Profinet speed is 1Gbit/sec or 100Mbit/sec. Profibus speed is 12Mbit/sec.
It has adjustable cycle times for every device. It has fixed cycle times for every device.

Profinet Connector

Profinet Connectors are particularly designed for the terminations of profinet cables. These connectors are very popular due to their affordability & also simple usage. So these are user-friendly, connect quickly, provide high performance, their structure is rigid, shock resistance, and also maintenance free.

ProfiNet Topology

In network design, flexibility & layout are the main features of PROFINET. It supports approximately unlimited combination options when all typical Ethernet topologies are used. There are different fundamental PROFINET topologies there so, the correct topology selection is significant for the PROFINET automation plant design. After this design, the topology has to be adjusted. To set up the profinet topology, extra switches might be required. The different basic PROFINET topologies are available like star, tree, and line topologies.

Star Topology

The star topology is appropriate for areas including partial geographical extension. This topology is created automatically if numerous communication nodes are allied to a general switch. If the node of a single PROFINET fails or is detached, then other nodes of PROFINET will operate continuously. But, if the middle switch fails, then communication will be interrupted to all the connected nodes.

Star Topology
Star Topology

Tree Topology

A tree topology is formed by connecting various star networks to a single network. The functional unit is formed by the parts of the automation plant which are united to star points. So these are inter-networked through neighboring switches. In star point, a single switch works like a signal distributor.

Tree Topology
Tree Topology

Line Topology

The line topology is widely used in automation plants for conveyor belts and is also used in small machine applications. The devices of PROFINET are equipped with an integrated switch to help the line topologies in recognition. Once line interruption occurs when line topologies are used, then the devices arranged after the failed device can no longer be made contact with. So this can be avoided by expanding the line to a ring form with a redundancy protocol.

Line Topology
Line Topology


The ProfiNet advantages include the following.

  • PROFINET provides you best ways to improve your productivity with four important benefits flexibility, openness, performance & efficiency.
  • High operational availability and reliability.
  • Accessibility of Transparent data.
  • Easy and faultless combination of established Fieldbus systems through gateways/ proxies.
  • It has meaningful & detailed diagnostic options.
  • By using Profinet, we can execute different topology options like star, line, ring & tree.
  • It offers topology recognition & diagnostics for quick and proficient network commissioning.
  • The functional safety of Profibus avoids hazards because of the false industrial machinery functioning


The applications of ProfiNet include the following.

  • PROFINET is used in different applications like process automation, production, safety & isochronous motion control applications.
  • PROFINET is used in all automation engineering areas.
  • This is an open Industrial Ethernet solution based on international standards used for exchanging data between devices & controllers within an automation setting.
  • Process field Net is used by Siemens PLC.
  • PROFINET is used in different fields for implementing automation solutions like process automation, building automation & factory automation.
  • PROFINET is used over Industrial Ethernet for data communication.
  • It is used generally in the automation process for changing and controlling media like liquids and gases.
  • These are also used in different areas like fuel gas supply, automation & control for wastewater or water treatment.
  • It is used to process plants in the beverage industry, dairies, and for food production.
  • It is applicable in a wide range of industries like gas, automotive, oil, logistics, and many more.

Thus, this is all about an overview of a Profinet technology – working with applications. This is the most important Industrial Ethernet Standard in the marketplace. This is future-oriented technology and established globally which is supported by several product vendors for ensuring investment protection & long-term availability. Here is a question for you, what is Profibus?