Safety-over-EtherCAT now an international standard
The Safety-over-EtherCAT protocol is referred to as FSCP 12 (Functional Safety Communication Profile) in the IEC 61784-3 specification. This standard defines the fundamental requirements of a communication system in terms of safety-relevant data transmission. In order to do so, it also defines potential errors whose occurrences have to be assumed and describes possible recognition and corrective measures. All requirements are met safely by the Safety-over-EtherCAT Protocol.
The Safety-over-EtherCAT protocol was introduced by the EtherCAT Technology Group and, since 2005, has been widely used in applications worldwide. The protocol is ideal for applications up to the Safety Integrity Level SIL3 according to IEC 61508. Safety communication and standard communication use a single bus system.
Usage of Safety-over-EtherCAT, however, is not limited to EtherCAT. By employing the "black channel"-approach it is ensured that the safety quality is independent of the communication channel: EtherCAT, Ethernet, other fieldbus systems, underlying sub-bus-systems and even wireless communication links are allowed.
This is confirmed by the certification of the notifying body TÜV SÜD and is used in practice: Safety-over-EtherCAT data containers are routed via standard controllers and even gateways to neighboring systems where they are interpreted in a safe manner – thus one safety domain can successfully span the entire installation.
The publication of the international standard IEC 61784-3 Ed.2 is expected soon.
The protocol Safety-over-EtherCAT (FSoE) was specified for the transmission of safety relevant data. It is used to send input information of safety sensors (such as safety light curtains or emergency stop buttons) to a safety logic controller. Based on these inputs, this controller computes the commands for the safe outputs (such as contactors or safety relevant drives) and thus controls the safety functionality of the machine.
The EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG) is an organization in which key user companies from various industries and leading automation suppliers join forces to support, promote and advance EtherCAT technology. With over 1,300 members from 50 countries, the EtherCAT Technology Group has become the largest organization in the world that is exclusively focused on Industrial Ethernet technologies.