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20 February, 2018

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Group aims to synchronise Ethernet

01 December, 2002

Group aims to synchronise Ethernet

Lenze has teamed up with the industrial communications specialist Hirschmann Electronics, the robot-maker Kuka, and the automation supplier B&R, to develop a real-time standard for Ethernet communications. The standard, based on B&R`s Ethernet Powerlink technology, will allow Ethernet to be used in demanding industrial applications such as those involving synchronous drives, real-time networking of controllers, and the connection of remote I/O points.

One of Ethernet`s drawbacks for industrial applications is its lack of determinism which limits its use in installations such as multi-axis controllers and servo systems. The new initiative hopes to overcome this limitation, allowing stations to be synchronised with each other and making deterministic operation possible.

The project is being managed by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences Winterthur, whose Institute for Embedded Systems will perform the standardisation. The Institute`s director, Professor Hans Scheitlin, says that when the university evaluated various approaches to real-time communications, it concluded that the Powerlink system was "by far the best solution for the real-time problems which face Ethernet", including its lack of determinism and collisions between messages.

He adds that although Powerlink has some weaknesses — such as its incompatibility with conventional IT environments under TCP/IP — he believes that these can be overcome.

Scheitlin says that the university will act as "a neutral intermediary" in the standardisation process.




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