With EtherCAT P, Beckhoff combines communication and power in a single 4-wire standard Ethernet cable. The 24 V DC supply of the EtherCAT P slaves and of the connected sensors and actuators is integrated: US (system and sensor supply) and UP (peripheral voltage for actuators) are electrically isolated from each other and can each supply a current of up to 3 A to the connected components. At the same time, all the benefits of EtherCAT, such as freedom in topology design, high speed, optimum bandwidth utilization, telegram processing on-the-fly, highly precise synchronization, extensive diagnostics functionality, etc., are all retained.
The currents of US and UP are coupled directly into the wires of the 100 Mbit/s line, enabling the realization of a highly cost-effective and compact connection. EtherCAT P offers benefits both for connecting smaller, remote I/O stations in the terminal box and for decentralized I/O components locally in the process. A connector family was specially developed for EtherCAT P, in order to prevent potential damage caused by incorrect connection with standard EtherCAT slaves. It covers all applications from the 24 V I/O level up to drives with 630 V AC or 850 V DC and a current of up to 72 A.
As usual with EtherCAT, users benefit from the choice of topology and can combine line, star and tree structures with one another in order to achieve the least expensive and best possible layout of their system. Unlike classic Power over Ethernet (PoE), devices can be cascaded in EtherCAT P and supplied with power from one power supply unit.
When designing a machine, the individual consumers, cable lengths and cable types are configured with tool assistance and this information is used to create the optimum layout of the EtherCAT P network. Since it is known what sensors and actuators will be connected and which ones will be operated simultaneously, the power consumption can be accounted for accordingly. For example, if two actuators never switch simultaneously from a logical point of view, they also never need the full load simultaneously. The result is further savings potential in terms of the required supplies and power supply units.