The communication system developed by Beckhoff has proven itself as a high-performance real-time Ethernet technology. Indeed, EtherCAT has firmly established its place on the market thanks to its continuity and technical development and has even become an open IEC standard.
Today, EtherCAT offers sufficient performance and innovation potential to handle the next 20 years of high-performance automation.
Beckhoff has always been renowned for high-performance control and the way it continually pushes performance limits in the world of automation. This is all based on the principle of PC-based control technology, which makes it possible to exploit all the advantages of a PC – most notably including the high computing power – directly on the machine.
EtherCAT was developed so that the high performance of Ethernet PC interfaces, which were available as standard in the early 2000s, could have an optimal effect on machine automation. Fast forward 20 years and this is just as true as ever.
That said, the standard Ethernet protocol is designed for the transmission of large amounts of data and long data telegrams, not for the small units of information common in the machine environment, such as a 1-bit limit switch value or a 16-bit analog value.
This is where the EtherCAT principles have resulted in an ideal synthesis of both worlds to offer a number of major advantages:
– the standard Ethernet telegram is used so that a special communication card in the master is not required
– with the development of the Fieldbus Memory Management Unit (FMMU), data processing is enabled in the telegram execution, resulting in maximum protocol efficiency without overloading the master
– the point-to-point connection adopted from Ethernet is crucial in ensuring optimum diagnostic possibilities for EtherCAT
– distributed clocks introduced a highly accurate and automatically synchronized system time, thereby providing the basis for modern, time-slice-based control concepts
– as a complement to the well thought-out technology, publication within the EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG) has equally contributed to overall acceptance and success.