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.