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EtherCat `takes the lead in motion control` and offers power option

27 October, 2008

The EtherCat Technology Group (ETG) says that 40 vendors from 13 countries are now offering, or have announced, servo drives that support EtherCat communications, while others are developing servo products that have yet to be announced. According to the ETG, this means that its technology has taken the lead in Industrial Ethernet motion applications, with no other technology offering such a variety of motion products.

The ETG attributes its success in the motion market to a combination of performance, cost efficiency, flexibility and its distributed clock mechanism which allows EtherCat to support precise drive synchronisation without needing special hardware in master devices. Because the technology supports sensors and I/O as well as motion, it can replace several existing fieldbus systems, the ETG suggests.

The ETG has also announced the imminent arrival of products that will allow power to be carried over the same wires as EtherCat signals. This Power-over-EtherCat facility, which is based on IEEE 802.3af Power-over-Ethernet technology, will be particularly useful for powering device such as encoders or linear position sensors which users will be able to connect to an EtherCat network using just one standard Ethernet cable.

Four-wire cables and standard Industrial Ethernet connectors such as four-pin M12 devices can be used to supply up to 13W to an EtherCat slave device. In future, the specification may be enhanced to support higher power devices.

The first Power-over-EtherCat devices have been on show at the SPS/IPC/Drives show in Germany where the ETG stand was demonstrating more than 170 products from 59 vendors.

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