MRO Magazine

20 Years of EtherCAT

June 30, 2023 | By MRO Staff

Photo: Beckhoff Automation.

Photo: Beckhoff Automation.

Beckhoff Automation is commemorating the 20th anniversary of EtherCAT, the industrial Ethernet system.

EtherCAT is a cornerstone in industries such as packaging, fabrication, assembly, and entertainment. It supports emerging applications in mobile robotics, intralogistics, electric vehicle manufacturing, aerospace, scientific research, and semiconductor manufacturing.

EtherCAT has played a role in driving forward automation applications through its high speed, determinism and flexible topology. From large scale applications such as giant telescopes to small IoT data collection devices and everything in between.

EtherCAT advantages:

  • Performance: fast communication and nanosecond synchronization via distributed clocks optimize application efficiency while reducing CPU loads by up to 30 per cent.
  • Flexible topology: essentially any topology – tree, star, drop, line, circle, etc. – or any combination of these is possible with a nearly unlimited number of nodes and hot connect functionality.
  • Simple and robust: automatic addressing of nodes, comprehensive and highly localized diagnostics, noise immunity and high bandwidth all streamline network implementation and maintenance.
  • Integrated safety: available since 2005, Fail Safe over EtherCAT (FSoE) offers TÜV-certified functional safety up to SIL 3 in both centralized and decentralized control systems.
  • Affordability: no switches are necessary, masters only need an Ethernet port, and sub-devices can use a variety of ESC chips.
  • Largest variety of vendors and devices: The EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG) is the world’s largest industrial Ethernet organization with over 7,100 member companies and over 3,000 officially registered vendors.


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