IOTech Systems Limited

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EtherCAT Device Connector

Easily read and write data to EtherCAT devices on Industrial Ethernet networks with IOTech’s advanced EtherCAT device connector

Protocol Description

EtherCAT (Ethernet for Control Automation Technology) is an open real-time application layer protocol for use over Industrial Ethernet. Originally developed by Beckhoff but now managed by the EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG), EtherCAT is utilized in many Industrial Automation use cases demanding hard and soft real-time processing.

EtherCAT has a highly effective communication mechanism whereby EtherCAT frames are uniquely passed on between slave devices before being processed at each node. This means it can operate at very low latencies and in a full deterministic manner compared to regular Ethernet. The EtherCAT master issues a single frame containing data for all slaves in the network. As the frame is transmitted around the network, each slave reads the data specifically addressed to it and adds its own input data to the frame.

There are two main communication modes: 1) Direct Mailbox mode via CANopen over EtherCAT (CoE) to individual slaves, and 2) Process Data Object (PDO) mode where the master uses an I/O map to keep track of every slave’s process data.

EtherCAT can be deployed in line, ring and star network topologies. Ring topologies add redundancy capability because data flow can tolerate breaks in the network.

EtherCAT Connector Specification

IOTech’s EtherCAT device connector supports the following key features:

  • Single network interface operation

  • Double network interface operation allowing for redundancy in the network

  • Configurable master cycle times ranging from 250 microseconds to 50 milliseconds

  • Distributed Clock (DC) to ensure all slaves and the master remain synchronized

  • Choice of three different synchronization modes for each slave: SM Synchronous, DC Sync0 and DC Sync1

  • Configurable boot-up state of all slaves to either Safe-Operational (SAFE-OP) or Operational (OP) and the option to read the current state of each slave while running

  • Initialization options for all EtherCAT slaves on the network via Service Data Object (SDO) writes or Process Data Object (PDO) assignments

  • Read and Write Service Data Objects (SDOs)

  • Read and Write Process Data Objects (PDOs)

  • Stop cyclic communication if an error occurs in the network with an option to restart communication (not available in the Edge XRT implementation)

  • Support for BOOL, BIT, SINT, USINT, INT, UINT, DINT, UDINT, LINT, ULINT, REAL, LREAL and String data types

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Keywords for: EtherCAT

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