Micromech, one of the UK's largest distributor of Parker's Electromechanical Automation products, is announcing that a selection of their motion control products are now enabled with Ethernet Powerlink to increase system performance while decreasing system cost and installation time.
Users of motion control technology have relied on Ethernet for I/O control, data networking and HMI communications for a long time. Technology continues to advance at a rapid pace. However, automation users want Ethernet to keep up with the higher-performance motion control systems now available, which is a desire that is sometimes at odds with the abilities of standard Ethernet. For example, using multiple devices on the same network may cause data collisions, which results in timing delays. In other words, there is no guarantee when a data packet will arrive at its intended destination and so is not a viable option for real-time control.
Ethernet Powerlink is a high-speed, digital motion-bus product for connecting motion controllers to drives and I/O points using standard Ethernet networking hardware. This centralised, real-time communication system for automation and motion control has helped make Ethernet deterministic for real-time industrial applications. By extending IEEE 802.3 Ethernet with a mixed polling and time-slicing mechanism, Ethernet Powerlink gives motion control users real-time data transfer packaged in short cycles with microsecond precision.
Determinism (guaranteed timing of information) is achieved with standard Ethernet hardware by the use of network time slot management. Each Powerlink-controlled node has a dedicated time slot with which to send and receive information to and from the managed node.
Open and future-proof
Ethernet Powerlink is an open standard maintained by a Standardisation Group and uses standard, off-the-shelf Ethernet networking hardware and chipsets. Multiple vendors, OEMs and users drive the standard so that it addresses the needs of the industry. Consumer volumes keep hardware costs down to ensure Powerlink is future-proof. As the industry migrates toward Gigabit Ethernet, manufacturers can simply incorporate the new, standard Gigabit chips into their products with relatively little effort.
The other benefits include combining the high performance of a centralised system with the lower costs of distributed machine architectures, a simplified system wiring to reduce system design and installation time and standard Ethernet cabling and hubs to support multiple topologies. Furthermore, both the front office and the manufacturing floor can use the same Ethernet network. There are open standards for greater flexibility. An all-digital system also reduces EMI issues.
Recently launched products from Parker already contain Powerlink and are all available from Micromech with more drives and controls to follow later in 2008.