The complete networking of all machines and plants is no longer just a vision of the future. On the contrary: the ball is already rolling and Industrial Ethernet is conquering the industrial landscape. But how do sensor manufacturers react to this evolution and what is their solution for the missing standardized application protocol?
No doubt that the Ethernet is starting its triumphal march through automation. Also the 4th Industrial Revolution, in short Industry 4.0, is an intensively discussed topic. According to the forecasts, machines and systems will become significantly faster, quicker re-toolable and, above all, more intelligent. In the future, they will contact us on their own and inform us about what is to be done next.
Industrial Ethernet - with real-time extension - is fitting perfectly into this picture: High data rates, long transmission distances and - at least for the accessories - standardised, cost-effective cables and connectors could become the door opener of this technology. The heterogeneity and, first of all, the incompatibility of the numerous Industrial Ethernet protocols competing currently each other pose problems and seem impossible to solve in the short term.
Here, Industrial Ethernet is clearly on the move. But the path technology will take and the scope it will have are however unclear. But what does this situation mean today for sensor manufacturers?
"62.5 µs - the shortest bus cycle time for Ethercat on the market"
The Industrial Ethernet protocols reach from Profinet, EtherNet/IP, through Ethercat, Powerlink, Sercos-III, up to many others. Encoder manufacturers offer special connection techniques for Industrial Ethernet, striving to meet the requirements of every operating condition. For the operation in an industrial environment, Ethernet encoders should therefore be based on a proven, industrially robust and in the same time flexible, compact basis.
With its Ethercat encoders Sendix 58xx, Kubler relies on modern encoders with a mature technology. They resist reliably the harsh operating requirements of such sensors and meet therefore the highest manufacturer requirements for Ethercatbased systems. According to the manufacturer, with a position update within 62.5 µs, Kubler's latest Ethercat Sendix absolute encoders generation has currently the shortest bus cycle time for Ethercat on the market. This shorter phase allows using the Sendix encoders in highly dynamic systems.
In addition to these top performances, their proven robustness and reliability are further assets. A wide temperature range from 40°C to 85°C, a high shock resistance of up to 2.500 m/s² and a vibration resistance of up to 100 m/s² ensure the suitability of these devices for industrial use. The new Ethercat encoders integrate the latest slave Ethercat stack from Beckhoff with Version 5.01. Furthermore, they implement via CoE (CANoverEthernet) the latest CANopen profile 3.2.10.
These devices also offer dynamic mapping. Besides the scaled position, the raw data position can be mapped as a process variable; the sensor temperature in degrees C and the speed calculation with the sign are also mappable values. Four units are selectable for speed calculation: steps/sec, steps/100ms, steps/10ms and RPM.
In addition, the gating time allows setting the time interval with which the speed value is to be interpolated. Two work area state registers allow the calculation of work area states and thus very process-close results. A comprehensive plausibility check is carried out automatically when downloading parameters onto the encoder.
Ethernet yes! But which one?
In terms of Industrial Ethernet, the large number of existing protocols faces the encoder manufacturers with the basic decision either to invest in the common base that links all protocols and to adapt these flexibly, or to develop every time from scratch a customised encoder solution for the specific application.
Kubler considers that the basic condition for the best encoder solution lies with the customer and the respective sector. For its key sectors, the Company will go on supporting every protocol individually, since the real difference for the sensor manufacturer when supplying the best customer solution possible is made by the service.
Kubler customers benefit from a worldwide on-line service, firstclass expert support from its Headquarters in Schwenningen and, in parallel, on site. In addition, the same quality standard will apply from now on from Europe, through Asia, up to America.