Technical overview of Ethernet control automation technology (EtherCAT)

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Overview:

fieldbuses have become  an integrated component of automation technology. They have been tried and tested and are now widely established. It was fieldbus technology that enabled the wide-scale application of PC-based control systems. While the performance of controller CPUs -- particularly for IPCs -- is increasing rapidly, conventional fieldbus systems tend to represent "bottlenecks" that limit the performance control systems can achieve. Above the fieldbus system level, i.e. for networking controllers, Ethernet has already been state-of-the-art for some time. What is new is its application at the drive or I/O level, areas that were dominated by fieldbus systems in the past.

This White Paper, from the EtherCAT Technology Group, introduces EtherCAT, an Ethernet-based fieldbus system. EtherCAT is reportedly setting new performance standards, according to this study released in December of 2004. Handling is straightforward and similar to a fieldbus, thanks to flexible topology and simple configuration. Moreover, since EtherCAT can be implemented very cost-effectively, the system enables fieldbusses to be used in applications where fieldbus networking was not an option in the past.

EtherCAT is an open technology for which IEC standardization is in progress. Support is provided by the EtherCAT Technology Group, an international association of users and manufacturers with more than 140 member companies.

To view this White Paper in pdf format, click the Download Button below.