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EtherCat interface allows third-party access diagnostics

18 December, 2018

The EtherCat Technology Group (ETG) has developed a specification for a vendor-independent diagnosis interface that will allow third-party tools to access diagnostic information from EtherCat networks. The software-based interface could be implemented in controllers from any manufacturer.

EtherCat provides extensive diagnostic information both at the hardware and software levels. It can not only detect errors, but also pinpoint their location. It can report bit errors as well as issues generated by loose connectors. The corresponding error counters are supported by all network slave devices. This helps users, machine-builders and systems integrators to ensure the robustness of EtherCat networks and to reduce downtime. Diagnostic routines also test the quality of the communication and help to detect internal errors in slaves, incorrect cabling order, damaged cables or EMC interference.

The ETG's new diagnosis interface will allow third-party diagnostic tools to work with any master. No hardware changes will be needed because EtherCat masters are software-based, as is the interface. The interface is said to be easy to implement with a small software footprint, so can even be used in embedded devices with limited memory.

The standardised interface allows access to EtherCat network diagnostic information for both hardware and software. Diagnostic tools or HMIs can retrieve EtherCat network topology information, compare it with the expected configuration and detect communication interruptions and disturbances, as well as unexpected state changes.

The ETG’s diagnosis interface will enable master-independent access to EtherCat diagnostic data

The new Profile for Master Diagnosis Interface specification (ETG.1510) enhances the EtherCat Master Classes specification and extends the EtherCat Master Object Dictionary defined in the Modular Device Profile specification.

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