Manufacturers in Australia should look at implementing EtherCAT to reduce down time and boost efficiency says Martin Rostan, Executive Director, EtherCAT Technology Group.
Rostan was in Sydney recently and spoke with Manufacturers' Monthly about the challenges facing the manufacturing industry especially in terms of robustness and up time.
"With EtherCAT we have a peer-to-peer communication throughout, this means any noise issue will not travel throughout the network," explained Rostan.
"If there is any noise it is either detected and localised at the next node or it’s gone forever. That's a big distinguishing factor from the classical fieldbus world."
Another challenge facing the manufacturing industry is throughput and an ultra-fast network increases the throughput of the machine.
"Many manufacturing machines have what we call 'transitions' – which is any situation when the application program says 'as soon as'. As soon as the part arrives, treat it," explains Rostan who is based in Nuremberg, Germany.
"As soon as the cylinder has reached the end position, open this valve. This introduces a small waiting time in our manufacturing processes which we can reduce substantially by using a fast network such as EtherCAT.
"We have found that introducing EtherCAT instead of classical fieldbus systems – without changing anything else – has immediately increased the efficiency of such machines by three to seven per cent."
Rostan first visited the country 18 months back to promote the use of EtherCAT and it was a new concept for Australia then, he recalls.
"We find that in Australia the knowledge about EtherCAT has increased substantially in the last 18 months and many machine builders have been introduced to the technology by their suppliers," says Rostan.