August 2010

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Energy – How much do we have, how much do we need, and where do we find it?

How will PROFIenergy be used to balance the energy equation?

Manny Mandrusiak
Manny Mandrusiak
Vice President OPC Marketing,

OPC Foundation

Contributing Editor

I was recently forced to spend a lot of time on my couch after getting a really bad flu from a recent business trip. If anyone has not spent a lot of time off of work watching daytime television there actually is more on TV than Oprah and soap reruns. I spent my conscious hours watching the Discovery Channel, and they really have some amazing programs.

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One of the programs that I watched was a series about energy, and the earth’s diminishing resources. This series had some fantastic information regarding how much energy we as North Americans really consume, and how we balance the equation.

Let’s run the numbers

According to the Discovery Channel series 65 thousand people get added to the planet every 8 hours of the day. Experts speculate that there will be roughly 9 billion people on our lovely blue marble by the year 2050. (To keep things in perspective the current population of the plant earth is 6,697,254,041 according to Google.) Naturally the explosion of the planet’s population to 9 billion people will greatly add the energy demands of the planet’s resources.

These same experts estimate that the additional people on the planet earth will cause the human race’s current energy demands to rise by 50 % by the year 2050.

If the above paragraph is looked at as a mathematical word problem one starts to see that the value of the unknown (or x) is what energy experts have been trying to solve. Currently as a race we are heavily relying on the earth’s fossil fuels. To effectively balance the equation, there are really three options:

  1. Supplement the fossil fuel need with other sources of power generation i.e.: solar, nuclear, and wind.

  2. Increase the current energy supply

  3. Decrease the demand for energy

The place that North America needs to start is to reduce the amount of energy that is consumed by every individual. Now something like this is easier said than done, particularly in North America where every aspect of North American life is “supersized”. Big homes, big stores, big cars. As North Americans the experts state the average home has 25 electronic devices plugged in to wall sockets every day. Everyone wants to live the American dream of freedom in the land of opportunity. What we as North Americans need to do is embrace the fundamentals of the American dream, but use less energy to do it. The experts on the Discovery Channel estimated that if North American’s continue to adopt energy saving practices (like energy efficient light bulbs, and using more fuel efficient vehicles) the amount of energy that will need to be produced to satisfy the needs of the growing population for 2050, but to continue to have a resource rich planet to live on.

The technology advantage for energy efficiency

One of the technology consortiums on the cutting edge of energy management is PI International with their PROFIenergy profile.

PROFIenergy is a profile of the PROFINET communications protocol which enables the power consumption of automation equipment in manufacturing (such as robots in auto assembly cells, laser cutters and sub-systems such as paint lines) to be managed over a PROFINET network. The profile offers an open and standardized means of controlling energy usage during planned and unplanned breaks in production.

The motivation for a standardized energy efficiency profile in automation came from Mercedes-Benz and was motivated by the AIDA group of automotive manufacturers in Germany. AIDA companies comprise Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volkswagen. The task of creating the energy efficient profile resulted in the creation of a PI International Working Group set up to develop the new specification. The PI Working Group comprises ABB, AIT, Bosch, Danfoss, Hilscher, ifak, Lenze, Murr Elektronik, Phoenix Contact, SEW Eurodrive, SCA Schucker, Rexroth, Siemens and WZL.

PROFIenergy relies on three production elements working together: the controlling device in an automation network (usually a PLC, but it could be a supervisory system or dedicated energy management controller on the same network), the communications network (PROFINET), and the power consuming unit (which could be a single device or item of equipment, a cell or even a larger sub-system).

[an error occurred while processing this directive] The PROFIenergy switching mechanisms reside inside the energy consumers. No additional hard-wiring is required. The controlling device transmits signals via PROFINET to say when production pauses will happen. These can be at known times, or in response to random conditions e.g. breakdowns. Each unit then decides how this information is to be handled.

More information on PROFIenergy can be found at, but let’s look at the Reader’s Digest version of the specification. PROFIenergy was developed to essentially more effectively manage the energy consumption of the machines involved in the production of automobiles. The profile provides users with the ability to better understand what parts of an assembly line can be essentially “put to sleep” while waiting for the part required for that part of the process to arrive. Looking back in this article to the point where the average North American has 25 devices plugged into a wall socket every day, imagine for a minute a complete auto assembly line plugged into that same wall socket waiting for parts to arrive. The energy saving potential for the PROFIenergy profile is not only huge in the world of manufacturing, but it could very easily apply to the world of Building Automation.

Imagine for a moment having the ability to be able to effectively reduce the energy footprint of every person in North America by having control of their energy consuming environments by being able to effectively trend, analyze, and adjust that energy consumption for the betterment of the planet.

End of the Oil Age?

Are we at the end of the Oil Age? Some experts say that as a planet we are at the end of the Oil Age, and we will reach a complete energy crisis by 2050 if more efficient energy usage patterns are not implemented. What is known is that there are consortiums out there who have identified the need for more efficient energy control, and that Building Automation professionals will be at the forefront for identifying the opportunities for reducing the energy consumption of homes and buildings to help find the value of “x” and help to balance the energy equation for all of us before 2050.

More information on PROFIenergy and PROFINET technology is available at

About the Author

In addition to Manny's OPC role he is also:

Manny Mandrusiak, Director of Technology Marketing, PTO
PROFIBUS and PROFINET  North America
16101 N. 82nd Street Suite 3B
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

Keep up-to-date on PROFIBUS and PROFINET at the PROFIblog: 
phone: (480) 483-2456
Mobile: (480) 751-8639
fax: (480) 483-7202


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