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EtherCAT products go on show at Hannover

01 May, 2005

EtherCAT products go on show at Hannover

At last month`s Hannover Fair, 30 companies were showing products using the EtherCAT version of industrial Ethernet. The products included drives, sensors, I/O systems, interfaces and gateways. There are now more than 170 member companies in the EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG), which claims to be the world`s largest industrial Ethernet organisation.

Like the rival Ethernet Powerlink system, EtherCAT has recently been accepted by the IEC as a PAS (publicly available specification), and the specification is being added to various international standards including IEC 61784-2 (covering digital communications for measurement and control) and the next version of the global fieldbus standard, IEC 61158. EtherCAT has also been included in the ISO 15745 standard, which is currently in the voting phase.

Martin Rostan, the ETG`s executive director, claims that EtherCAT is the fastest version of industrial Ethernet and can update 100 servo axes in 100µs, making it 10-15 faster than Ethernet Powerlink, 40 times faster than Profinet, and 3-4 times faster than the new IRT (isochronous real-time) version of Profinet.

He also asserts that EtherCAT is the most flexible form of industrial Ethernet and, unlike some of the other systems, is not limited in the number of nodes it can support. It is also "the only real-time Ethernet that doesn`t require dedicated hardware in a master," Rostan adds.

One of the companies launching EtherCAT products at Hannover was Beckhoff which was showing an embedded PC (above) which integrates PC technology and modular I/O on a top-hat rail, with direct connection for EtherCAT I/O terminals. The CX1020 PC can act as an EtherCAT master offering response times of less than 1ms.

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