EtherCAT (Ethernet for Control Automation Technology) is a real-time Ethernet for data commnunication in the automation technology. It complies with the IEC61158 and IEC61784 standards as well as the ISO15745-4 standard and has been used in industrial plants since 2003.
Today EtherCAT is by far the fastest Industrial Ethernet technology in the market. It has an almost unlimited network size and an optimal vertical integration. It also features very high synchronization accuracy in the nanosecond range.
The EtherCAT slave devices read all relevant information out of the the passing telegram. Similarly, input data is inserted in the telegram in the run-through. The time delay of the messages in this case is only a few nano seconds. The update time for 1000 E/As is only 30 microseconds – including IO throughput time.
In addition, EtherCAT provides protocol definitions for the following areas:
- Cyclic transmission of IO data
- Acyclic transmission of required data (parameters, diagnostics, device identification, …)
- Clock synchronization
- Comfortable system diagnostics
Therefore EtherCAT is used primarily in the area control and regulation of physical processes and in the fields of measurement systems.