NI Creates PROFIBUS Interfaces for Industrial Control Systems

National Instruments (Nasdaq:NATI) announced new PCI and PXI PROFIBUS interfaces to add compatibility and flexibility to industrial systems. PROFIBUS is an industrial communications bus with more than 20 million installed nodes worldwide in manufacturing, process control and automation applications. With the new interfaces, PROFIBUS engineers now can integrate NI LabVIEW software into benchtop, real-time and device test PROFIBUS networks.

The PROFIBUS interfaces include a LabVIEW driver with Express VIs for rapid application development. Express VIs are easy-to-use configuration-based blocks that simplify communication between LabVIEW and the PROFIBUS network. With these Express VIs, engineers can add PROFIBUS support to new or existing LabVIEW applications for human machine interface (HMI), SCADA, real-time control and test without additional programming.

The PROFIBUS interfaces can function as either master or slave devices on PROFIBUS networks. As a master, the interface controls the timing and arbitration of the network by integrating with LabVIEW and LabVIEW Real-Time. Engineers can use the interface to control PROFIBUS slave devices such as motor drives, sensors, distributed I/O and programmable logic controllers (PLCs). As a slave used with LabVIEW Real-Time on a PC or PXI system, the interface integrates NI high-performance data acquisition, motion, vision and modular instruments into existing PROFIBUS-enabled machines and processes.

NI PCI and PXI PROFIBUS interfaces also include a graphical Configurator utility to configure network timing and set up PROFIBUS slaves on a network. The software abstracts the low-level details of using PROFIBUS and imports standard .GSD files for configuring I/O in an application. Configurations are saved in an open XML file format and integrate with Express VIs in the LabVIEW driver.

With LabVIEW, engineers can significantly reduce the programming complexity commonly associated with sophisticated control systems like PROFIBUS networks, and, with real-time control, engineers can create applications that run predictably in time with increased reliability and offer stand-alone operation. With the parallel dataflow language of LabVIEW in PROFIBUS networks, engineers can easily balance several measurement and control tasks between the multiple processor cores available on today’s standard PC platforms. The latest version of LabVIEW delivers performance gains with deterministic real-time multithreading, improved thread-safe I/O drivers and automatic scaling based on the total number of available processing cores. The LabVIEW configuration utility simplifies the setup of a control network with the PROFIBUS interface.

In addition, an onboard processor, memory and flash storage enable the interfaces to reliably communicate with the PROFIBUS network independently of PC performance or jitter. If the host machine has a software failure, the rest of the PROFIBUS network continues to operate normally.

About National Instruments
National Instruments is transforming the way engineers and scientists design, prototype and deploy systems for measurement, automation and embedded applications. NI empowers customers with off-the-shelf software such as NI LabVIEW and modular cost-effective hardware, and sells to a broad base of more than 25,000 different companies worldwide, with no one customer representing more than 3 percent of revenue and no one industry representing more than 10 percent of revenue. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 4,500 employees and direct operations in nearly 40 countries. For the past nine years, FORTUNE magazine has named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America.

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