EtherCAT Motion Control: Why Is It Becoming the #1 Fieldbus?

EtherCAT Motion Control: Why Is It Becoming the #1 Fieldbus?

A standard is good only if it is accepted widely by the vendors in the supply chain. While big companies such as Siemens enjoy significant market clout with a powerful fieldbus Profinet, the EtherCAT fieldbus has become the most widely accepted fieldbus standard in a fairly large part of the machine automation market and is used by almost all servo drive manufacturers. EtherCAT has made it much simpler for servo drive manufacturers to adopt EtherCAT, so many servo drive vendors now follow this standard.

In reality, EtherCAT has become the #1 protocol for nearly all motion control applications because of the advantages that it comes with that you don’t get with other communication protocols. Some of the key reasons that made EtherCAT widespread popular are:

  • Speed
  • Efficiency
  • Real-time performance
  • Flexibility


Speed: This is the topmost reason why EtherCAT is the preferred protocol for motion control applications. It can transfer data at extremely higher speeds, with cycle times as low as 12.5 µs. Hence, one enjoys expedited and precise control over systems’ motion, which is crucial in multiple high-performance applications.

Efficiency: EtherCAT is a very efficient protocol, as it uses the “daisy-chain” topology. What makes this topology special is that it reduces the amount of wiring needed and makes the entire communication network more simplified. Therefore, using EtherCAT also results in low cost, higher reliability, and faster device communication. Even better, you just need a TCP CATV cable for the wiring of an EtherCAT fieldbus, lowering the cost to a fraction of what proprietary fieldbus costs.

Real-time Performance: It is another contributing factor to the success of EtherCAT. This communication protocol offers accurate and reliable communication, as well as better synchronization between different devices with its sub-microsecond accuracy. This feature is important for applications related to robotics and industrial automation, where precise and time control are extremely critical.

Flexibility: This is another major factor that makes EtherCAT more popular among supply chain vendors. Its ability to support different network topologies and data transmission modes makes it easier to integrate into various types of motion control systems. What’s more, EtherCAT is an open standard, meaning the majority of vendors and devices support it. This makes it more accessible and cost-effective solution.

To conclude, the widespread use of EtherCAT is the testament to its ability to ensure accurate, cost-effective, and reliable communication in various motion control applications.  

For the record, KINGSTAR Fieldbus powered by EtherCAT is a Windows-based EtherCAT Master Stack and is deployed around the world.

KINGSTAR Fieldbus enables real-time EtherCAT communication for industrial automation applications. It provides you with a user-friendly interface for configuring and managing EtherCAT network and supports a vast assortment of devices, including I/O modules, sensors, drives, and more.