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EtherCAT I/O now integrated into Aerotech’s A3200 controller

25 October 2012

Aerotech has added EtherCAT to the A3200 Integrated Automation platform, which offers motion control, PLC, and I/O in a single, integrated environment. The EtherCAT interface provides users with the ability to seamlessly incorporate additional high- and low-power digital and analogue I/O into a system.

Users import the EtherCAT I/O configuration file into the A3200 MotionPAC PLC module making it available to all programmers. Users then use the MotionPAC mapping tool to connect EtherCAT I/O points to TAGs or variables. The connections are made by dragging and dropping the EtherCAT I/O names onto the TAGs or variables defined in the MotionPAC, the Operator Interface, or any other module of the system.

MotionPAC will automatically manage the memory associated with EtherCAT I/O mappings. There is no need for the programmer to assign memory addresses. While the programmer is free to view the memory assignments, they can also change or create them, if desired.


Once the EtherCAT I/O is connected to TAGs and/or variables, they can be used by name in any of the modules including Motion Composer, MotionPAC, Scope tools, or the Operator Interface. The EtherCAT I/O is also available for use in any of the A3200 programming languages including IEC61131-3 (LD, FBD, ST), .NET, LabVIEW, G-code, or AeroBasic languages by name.

This means that the programmer can map EtherCAT I/O to TAGs or variables with drag and drop that can be used by programmers without concern for how they are managed in memory or exported to the Operator Interface, Scope tools, or Visual Studio. This tight integration of EtherCAT I/O with the A3200 will drastically reduce development, integration, and debugging time of the machine development and maintenance.

EtherCAT’s real-time and high-speed capability augments the ability of the software-based A3200 machine controller to reach large-scale distributed applications that require dispersed and diverse I/O. Using this technology the A3200 can access millions of I/O points per second while controlling the machine functions including high-end motion as well as other control loops such as temperature and pneumatic controls.

EtherCAT integration has been achieved by integrating the Hilscher CIFX 50-RE card into the A3200 system and is provided as an optional A3200 software driver. This new feature makes it easy to combine fieldbus I/O with drive I/O in both motion and PLC programs.  Combining EtherCAT I/O with the A3200 integrated motion and PLC results in an ideal machine controller platform that will minimize development and commissioning time while providing high performance solutions for automation projects.




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