Hannover Fair 2004: Ethernet Powerlink Standardization Group shows interoperability

Only 10 months after inception, the Ethernet Powerlink Standardization Group (ESPG, Winterthur, Switzerland) exhibited its Ethernet Powerlink real-time networking solution at Hannover Fair 2004.


Only 10 months after inception, the Ethernet Powerlink Standardization Group (ESPG) exhibited its Ethernet Powerlink real-time networking solution at Hannover Fair 2004.

EPSG’s multi-vendor installation at the fair included 10 members of the group, who believe that Ethernet Powerlink is the ideal technology for real-time networking in industrial automation. Devices from these vendors were connected in one Ethernet Powerlink network. In parallel to the exchange of real-time data with sub-microsecond jitter, the network transparently handled regular IP-based traffic without disturbing real-time behavior.

Besides integrating drives, I/O systems, network components, controls and sensors, the group demonstrated that an Ethernet Powerlink network can be analyzed with standard test, measurement, and analysis equipment from the IT world. "This is the beauty of open standards-based systems, such as Ethnernet Powerlink," says Dr. Edwin Kiel, ESPG’s board chairman and Lenze Drives Systems’ GM. "Other real-time Ethernet approaches cripple Ethernet frames in order to achieve similar performance. With Ethernet Powerlink, the whole range of standard Ethernet tools and software remains applicable."

In addition to the multi-vendor installation, EPSG introduced the basics of Ethernet Powerlink technology and a roadmap for future extensions. Experts discussed details of the protocol, and showed that it can be easily integrated with existing devices.

EPSG showing Ethernet Powerlink products and services at its Hannover Fair exhibit included:

  • AMK , which showed its compact KE/KW servo drive system with an integrated Ethernet Powerlink controller interface.

  • B&R Industrie Elektronik GmbH , which demonstrated its industrial PCs, control solutions, multi-axis motion control and distributed I/Os networked with Ethernet Powerlink.

  • Baldor , which exhibited its latest additions to the product range, including NextMove ESB, a USB-ready standalone multi-axis motion controller for both servo and stepper motors, and MicroFlex, a low cost servo amplifier for rotary and linear motors.

  • Harting Electric , which showed its active and passive infrastructure components, as well as connectors and cabling for Ethernet in an industrial environment.

  • Hirschmann Electronics , which demonstrated its hubs, transceivers and the world’s first Ethernet Powerlink gateway to separate the real-time Ethernet segment from the rest of the network.

  • Ixxat Automation GmbH , which emphasized that Ethernet Powerlink protocol stacks are available in a generic version that can be easily ported to various target platforms and operating systems, and showed a complete solution, including a stack version dedicated to an Iixxat hardware reference design.

  • Lenze Group , which produces frequency inverters, servos and automation products, and exhibited drive-based Ethernet solutions.

  • Fraba Posital , demonstrated an encoder with an integrated Ethernet Powerlink interface in a multi-vendor application, as well as a successful integration of its EPL V 2.0, and added features, such as an integrated Web server for diagnostic purposes and configuration.

  • Smart Network Devices GmbH (SND), which showed its EPL Unit hardware SND that presents a turnkey solution, including two Ethernet ports (repeater) and runs the complete EPL V2.0 stack either as Master (MN) or Slave (CN) to offer industrial device manufacturers a fast and hassle-free access to real-time Ethernet.

  • Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Winterthur (ZHW), which is the designated test lab for the certification of EPL products. ZHW provides real-time Ethernet test equipment, evaluation kits as well as implementation services. At the fair, a ZHW managing stack (EPL V2) drove the EPSG-multi-vendor demo and an evaluation kit provided access to a web camera in order to demonstrate TCP/IP connectivity. ZHW showed protocol analyzers and a high-precision Ethernet timing analyzer.

  • Ethernet Powerlink (EPL) is reportedly the only available real-time Ethernet network with microsecond cycle times based solely on open standards. More than 15,000 EPL nodes have already been working reliably for more than two years in serial machinery worldwide. Ethernet Powerlink is based on standards including IEEE 802.3, CANopen device profiles, IP based protocols and off-the-shelf Ethernet silicon.

  • EPSG is an open association of leading end-users, OEMs, vendors and institutes in the automation industry. The group’s goal is to provide an open standard for industrial Ethernet focused on precise real-time data communication with sub-microsecond jitter and cycle times measured in hundreds of microseconds, based on international standards. EPSG members include ABB Robotics, Baldor, B&R, Hirschmann, KUKA Controls, Lenze and Tetra Pak and others.

—Jim Montague, news editor, Control Engineering, jmontague@reedbusiness.com

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