Hilscher North America has released its EtherCAT Tap software application for netFIELD OnPremise edge gateway and other supported netX-based hardware. This innovative software solution provides seamless industrial internet of things (IIoT) integration for both new and legacy machinery.

Source: Hilscher North AmericaSource: Hilscher North America

The netFIELD App EtherCAT Tap enables manufacturers to passively extract valuable process data from existing machines on EtherCAT networks without impacting operations and equipment controls. The application is compatible with any EtherCAT network, achieves success without interference to existing network or PLC controls, and its simple setup can be completed within minutes. This containerized software is easy to deploy and manage, and it includes a built-in, feature-rich configuration app that is accessible via web browser. No additional software tools are required for deployment.

By implementing a physical data switch — such as netFIELD OnPremise or netMIRROR — directly after the PLC, users have access to all messaging and data traffic. This is made possible by Hilscher’s netX system-on-chip (SoC) hardware. The netX hardware allows the application to unobtrusively tap data from an EtherCAT network (or any Ethernet network) and forward it to the container. Using a form of deep packet inspection technology derived from Hilscher’s netAnalyzer, the netFIELD App EtherCAT Tap monitors and analyzes existing machine network traffic, can recognize fieldbus protocols and remains invisible to existing machines on the network.

The extracted, raw EtherCAT data can either be automatically enriched with semantics during the capture process, or manually reconstructed. Semantic information can be directly input via the EtherCAT network information (ENI) file — provided by TwinCAT or any other compatible engineering tool. After configuration, data of interest can be sent via MQTT to the desired monitoring or analytics application. Additionally, the listen-only functionality ensures that netFIELD App EtherCAT Tap is secure by design, offering an easy-to-use data acquisition solution for EtherCAT networks.

This passive data capture tool enables condition monitoring and data analytics applications to improve the performance of legacy machines and plant operations — with zero impact on installed equipment.

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