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IEC accepts Ethernet PowerLink as products make Hannover debuts

01 April, 2005

IEC accepts Ethernet PowerLink as products make Hannover debuts

The IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) has accepted Ethernet PowerLink (EPL) as a PAS (Publicly Available Specification) for a real-time industrial Ethernet communication profile. The acceptance - by all but one of the 25 IEC national committees that voted - is an important step towards EPL becoming part of IEC 61784-2, covering real-time digital communications systems for measurement and control.

The Ethernet PowerLink Standardisation Group (EPSG) and its partners also plan to reformat the EPL specification to allow it to be integrated into the next revision of the global field bus standard, IEC 61158.

EPL is claimed to be the only real-time industrial Ethernet technology that can operate at microsecond speeds without needing proprietary hardware components or custom chips. It can be implemented on standard Ethernet hardware and chips.

There are more than 60,000 EPL-enabled devices already in use and more than 30 companies, including Lenze, Weidmuller, Harting and Hirschmann, are now offering EPL-compatible products.

At this month`s Hannover Fair, Baldor formally launched its EPL-based NextMove e100 control platform - a compact panel-mounting box with a real-time core that can control more than 200 EPL devices, such as drives, encoders, I/O, and gateways, up to 16 of which can be interpolated axes. The package includes analogue and digital I/O, a USB port, and free ActiveX tools. The controller can also support three analogue-controlled servo axes and four stepper or open-loop axes.

Baldor is also offering a range of EPL-compatible single-phase servo drives with a dual-port Ethernet interface (shown above) which allows daisy-chaining. The MicroFlex e100 drives, available with 3, 6 or 9A outputs, support the CAN-in-Automation DS402 positioning drive profile.

"We are implementing Ethernet PowerLink in such a way that users can implement hybrid systems with a mix of digital and analogue drives if they wish, and continue to exploit low-cost technologies, such as CANopen, for cost-sensitive parts of the machine control system," explains Baldor`s David Greensmith. "This gives OEMs the freedom to exploit Ethernet immediately with migration-friendly technology."

Greensmith estimates that EPL`s lower wiring costs could save up to €100 per axis. For systems with six or more axes, further systems savings of €1,000-2,000 should be possible, he adds.




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