Ethernet in the automotive industry

The market penetration of Industrial Ethernet depends crucially on the automotive industry. This is the largest industry in Germany with a turnover of 363 billion € in 2007 and a portion of 20.8% of the total industrial turnover.

It is at the same time the second largest market for the machinery industry. By the way, the largest market for the machinery industry is the machinery industry itself. A survey of five of the six large automotive companies covers the echo on Industrial Ethernet.

AIDA commits itself to ProfiNet

Car production

March 1st, 2010 - In the year 2005 the Automation Initiative of the German Automobile Manufacturers, AIDA, decided the implementation of ProfiNet in the safety integrated version „from the control system to the sensor“ with all German automotive manufacturers.


Its implementation is gradually happening in connexion with new vehicle models or along production stages.

The expectations regarding ProfiNet

An automotive manufacturer describes the expectations that are connected with the decision for ProfiNet:

  • „3 main advantages were decisive for the Ethernet decision. 1. the vertical uniformity up to the super ordinate MES level, 2. one expects to get rid off the different wiring systems using only one wiring for safety, I/O and data and 3. one expects cost savings in medium-term because due to only one interface the manufacturer needs less investments into the development of engineering tools etc. From this consequence one wants to have benefit as end-user. One expects savings of 4% related to the total investment of the electrical engineering derived from the medium-term savings of the manufacturer.“

Ambivalent aspects regarding ProfiNet

Counter trends want to hold to Profibus for technical and economic reasons.

  • „One decided for ProfiNet but one does not need it necessarily. The reason for this decision was the concern that during the life cycle of a system purchased today, Profibus could not be available any longer because the system running times for the final assembly are between 10 to 15 years. The input of an initiator is not really better with Profinet than it already was with Profibus, the tools could be read out in the same way as with Profibus, the doubts lie in the fact that troubleshooting becomes ever more complicated… Simpler mounting and start-up are really provided but with a machine run time of 10 to 15 years one can neglect a few days more for installation. Special critique exists with the price performance ratio. That it will become cheaper with ProfiNet is absolutely not correct. With ProfiNet you need switches unlike with Profibus in the past. For 30-40 plant components times 2-3 switches, 800 Euro each, for the total interfacing add up slightly to additional costs from 60,000 to 80,000 Euro. These are costs that did previously not occur and furthermore the components did not also become cheaper.“

Different Ethernet field buses in use too

Also different Ethernet field buses such as EtherCAT (for test stands) or Ethernet IP are used.

Applications in detail still contentiously

There are a lot of specific trends with different, partial opposite developments to

  • Power over Ethernet
  • Wireless
  • Drag-chain-suited Ethernet cables
  • Net topologies
  • Integration of the Internet for maintenance purposes.


Further details how Ethernet is used in the automotive industry and its market volume provides the survey of Quest TechnoMarketing “Ethernet 2008 - 2011“.


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