Smart I/O and Ethernet connect to and expand fieldbus capabilities

Technology Update: Smart input/output (I/O) devices connected to industrial Ethernet can extend and expand traditional fieldbus functionality, incrementally, as needed.

05/13/2014


Special function I/O devices can act as a system’s safety PLC and amplifier for motors such as servos, steppers, and dc motors. Beckhoff Automation offers EtherCAT gateway terminals permitting connectivity with every major fieldbus in use. Beckhoff EtherCSensor level fieldbus communications eliminated the need to return sensor wiring to a centrally located "main" control cabinet. Advantages include less labor, lower physical wire and conduit requirements, faster installation time, and dramatic space reductions. As these fieldbus networks have evolved, so has the capacity to transmit more data more quickly, which enables very large systems to be more tightly controlled. The EtherCAT industrial Ethernet system has low microsecond-level communications ability and the broadest device selection from numerous major vendors.

Gateway terminals permit connectivity with every major fieldbus in use today. Additionally, data transferred from a "traditional fieldbus" to EtherCAT preserves the data and fieldbus characteristics of each traditional fieldbus. EtherCAT I/O users can migrate from fieldbus to advanced industrial Ethernet incrementally as time and budget allows, with wide connectivity to field devices, such as sensors.

Special function (or "smart") I/O solutions communicate at higher speeds and bandwidth to include extra diagnostic information available via the EtherCAT protocol. A prerequisite to using the new special function I/O technology is to ensure the industrial network provides as much speed and bandwidth as possible. With microsecond-level performance and connectivity to many networks, the standard EtherCAT fieldbus network and related I/O system can handle extra process data very well.

Special function I/O devices pair well with EtherCAT and other smart networks. For example, special functions normally handled by separate dedicated devices can be integrated into I/O cabinets with "regular" analog and digital I/O for basic data acquisition. The special function I/O varieties can include more robust measurement of values, such as energy, temperature, vibration, position, angle, and others. Special function I/O devices also can act as a system's safety PLC and amplifier for motors, such as servos, steppers, and dc motors. This is made possible through the continued miniaturization of electrical components and the ability of PC-based controllers to act as the master controller and manage control functions on the machine and/or line. By centralizing the main control and distributing special function I/O, engineers can take advantage of a unified programming environment for PLC programming, safety, and condition monitoring systems. This allows engineers to focus more on the process of a machine or plant rather than various vendors' software platforms.

Since the special function I/O terminals are in the same format as "regular" I/O, they can be installed with minimal wiring effort, sliding together on the same DIN-rail-mounted I/O segment. If a machine-builder or manufacturer can eliminate stand-alone devices that previously handled safety, measurement, and other functions, there can be additional benefits generated from fewer or smaller electrical cabinets. That leads to a smaller machine footprint and the ability to commission more machines in less space and less time, allowing use of a smart fieldbus (industrial Ethernet) and smart I/O.

- Kurt Wadowick is I/O and safety specialist, Beckhoff Automation. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering, mhoske(at)cfemedia.com.

ONLINE

www.beckhoffautomation.com 



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Learn how to create value with re-use; gain productivity with lean automation and connectivity, and optimize panel design and construction.
Go deep: Automation tackles offshore oil challenges; Ethernet advice; Wireless robotics; Product exclusives; Digital edition exclusives
Lost in the gray scale? How to get effective HMIs; Best practices: Integrate old and new wireless systems; Smart software, networks; Service provider certifications
Fixing PID: Part 2: Tweaking controller strategy; Machine safety networks; Salary survey and career advice; Smart I/O architecture; Product exclusives
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Look at the basics of industrial wireless technologies, wireless concepts, wireless standards, and wireless best practices with Daniel E. Capano of Diversified Technical Services Inc.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.