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Comms groups join forces on Ethernet for motion

01 July, 2003

Two groups involved in factory communications have joined forces to accelerate the development of industrial Ethernet for high-speed motion applications. A Swiss-based group which has been developing a system based on B&R`s Ethernet Powerlink technology, has reached an agreement with the CAN in Automation (CiA) organisation to use CANopen device profiles.

The Swiss group, formed last year (see Drives & Controls, January 2003), has recently adopted the name, the Ethernet Powerlink Standardisation Group (EPSG), and has added Baldor and Lust to its members, which already included Lenze, Hirschmann, and Kuka Robots.

The group argues that the combination of its technology with the CANopen profiles will provide transparency from the sensor level, via drives, to Ethernet-based factory networks and on to higher levels. The profiles, it says, will give machine-builders an easy migration path between CANopen and Ethernet Powerlink - and vice versa.

Low-cost gateways will also make it possible to connect Powerlink sub-systems to CANopen networks, and CANopen sub-systems to Powerlink networks.

One of the attractions of CiA for the EPSG members was that it has more than 400 members and, unlike some other associations, is not dominated by a single large corporation. "This fits very well with our Powerlink strategy of openness and independence," says Dr Edwin Kiel, chairman of the EPSG board, and managing director of Lenze Drive Systems. "In addition, both communication systems complement each other ideally.

"The CANopen world offers one of the most comprehensive sets of proven device profiles," he adds. "It was not reasonable to re-invent the wheel for Ethernet Powerlink."

The first results of the collaboration between CiA and the EPSG are due to be demonstrated at the SPS/IPC/Drives exhibition in Nuremberg in November.

• In two other recent developments, CiA has published a device profile for fluid power technologies, and received approval from the TÜV testing body for the "CANopen Safety Chip" (CSC). The fluid power profile describes functions of interconnecting items such as proportional valves, hydrostatic pumps and transmissions, and pneumatic pumps. Prototypes of the CSC, which has two on-chip CAN modules, are due this month.

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