Sree Swarna Gutta
How to Cut Cable Requirements in Half – Cabling, Part 2
EtherCAT P supplies power and communication in a single hybrid cable
While it is currently impossible to eliminate all cables in the field, it is possible to significantly reduce the count, making management of the remaining cables less cumbersome. EtherCAT-based, one-cable technologies from Beckhoff, which combines power and data in a single hybrid cable, provide an important tool to accomplish this.
Various products have been introduced over the years to provide power and signal via a single cable. Power over Ethernet (PoE) has been an IEE 802.3 standard since 2003, and the technology has proven useful in industrial applications. Other cable types combine power with USB 2.0 and DVI signal for HMI hardware. There are also types that provide power and feedback from servo drives to servomotors or directly from the control cabinet or a distribution module to servomotors with integrated drives. Because these cables can span up to 100 meters, they must offer a rugged wire jacket to ensure they withstand typical wear and tear in industrial environments, reducing the chance of damage and potential points of failure as a result.
EtherCAT P (EtherCAT + Power), for example, can supply power to applications from 24 to 400 volts AC or 600 volts DC and carry currents up to 64 amps, as well as provide two voltages for both EtherCAT slaves and connected sensors or actuators. In this case, the two voltages – US for system and sensor supply and UP for peripheral voltage for actuators – are electrically isolated from each other and can each supply up to 3 amps to connected components.
Streamlined motion architectures, such as distributed servo drive systems, can be daisy-chained but may require a separate distribution module. However, some distribution modules can supply signal from the control cabinet to as many as five drives. EtherCAT Box modules with an IP67 rating can be installed outside the enclosure much closer to the machine, so the cable run is confined to a smaller area while providing signal and power for multiple EtherCAT P slaves.
EtherCAT P technology supports multiple connector families, including ECP (EtherCAT with integrated 24 volts DC power supply) and ENP (Ethernet without integrated 24 volts DC power supply). The design of both is very similar with a trapezoidal power core element for the power supply and several points for signal. ECP cables work in EtherCAT environments with high voltage demands. ENP cables work with any Ethernet-based protocol, such as EtherNet/IP or PROFINET, as an open solution. Both types reduce cabling efforts when used with components that can be powered through one-cable technology.
Want to learn more about the benefits of EtherCAT for limiting cabling? Contact your local Beckhoff sales engineer today.
Sree Swarna Gutta is the I/O Product Manager for Beckhoff Automation LLC.
A version of this article previously appeared in Control Engineering magazine.