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‘Plug & Work’ bus terminals

26 November 2014

Offering an efficient solution to implement platform concepts in large-scale machine production with many common parts, while retaining the possibility to configure variants, EtherCAT plug-in modules from the new Beckhoff EJ series are electronically-based on the EtherCAT I/O system with a design that allows them to be directly attached to a circuit board.

The circuit board is an application-specific signal distribution board that distributes signals and power to individual application-specific plug connectors in order to connect the controller to machine modules as required. Elaborate manual wiring of single wires, common in conventional control cabinet construction, is replaced by simply plugging in prefabricated cable harnesses. Unit costs are lowered, and the risk of incorrect wiring is reduced to a minimum by coded components.

In large-scale machine production, expenditures for replicating designed controller configurations is a significant cost factor. While traditional control cabinet wiring offers maximum flexibility and extendibility, this is not required when manufacturing hundreds of essentially identical machines. On the contrary, the manual wiring of mass-produced machines is a common source of errors and causes high labour costs.

The new EtherCAT plug-in modules introduce an efficient wiring solution into the series production of machines. In combination with industrially manufactured cable harnesses, the signal distribution board – a circuit board specially designed by the user or by Beckhoff – distributes signals and power supply between the EtherCAT plug-in modules and the machine. The unit costs are lowered through the automated production of circuit boards and cable harnesses. The risk of incorrect wiring is reduced to a minimum, since the EtherCAT plug-in modules and the plug connectors of the cable harnesses offer coding options.

The entire range of functions from the Beckhoff I/O portfolio, including functional safety solutions, can be implemented in an extremely compact form factor with the EJ series. Thanks to the board level pluggability, a nearly limitless combination of options can be selected and plugged in as needed. In addition, the EtherCAT plug-in module system is simple to maintain because it leverages standard, globally-accepted industrial Ethernet technologies.