The first day of the five-day Hannover Fair opened with cloudy German skies, but the atmosphere with the many Halls (buildings) was anything but cloudy. Registrations for this year’s event are reported to be at an 11-year high and certainly there were many people in the booths and aisles today

Texas Instruments and EtherCAT

I was able to pick up some interesting news among my many booth visits. In an announcement that is significant for the extension of industrial automation technology into the embedded space, Texas Instruments, the Dallas-based semiconductor manufacturer, announced the first semiconductor company agreement to license Ethernet for Control Automation Technology (EtherCAT) for embedded applications. TI will include the networking technology in its ARM-based embedded processors beginning with Sitara ARM microprocessors planned for the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2011 and in further processor platforms beginning in 2012.

“The EtherCAT Protocol technology sets new standards for real-time performance and flexibility which is critical for TI embedded ARM devices geared toward the industrial market. As a leading Industrial Communication protocol the growing popularity of EtherCAT in industrial drive and I/O applications, is based on its robustness and simplicity allowing master and slave controllers to communicate with each other without a host computer in high-noise industrial environments,” said Matthias Poppel, Director for Embedded Processing at TI, EMEA. “The TI approach to EtherCAT with the programmable real-time unit (PRU) on TI’s ARM-based processors allows for flexible implementation that can more easily adapt as industrial standards evolve over time. Real-time control and –communication become available on a single chip.”

“We are thrilled about this milestone development which will open entirely new markets for EtherCAT. I am convinced that this will help EtherCAT to establish a strong position in a wide range of embedded applications and further accelerate its adoption in the automation market,” said Martin Rostan, EtherCAT Technology Group Executive Director.

Siemens reorganizes

The rumored reorganization of the top level of Siemens AG into four major sectors has occurred. Parts of the industry sector have been moved over to a new infrastructure and cities sector. Sigfried Russwurm, chief executive officer of the Industry Sector, told a press conference about the new industry sector organization. The group will include industrial software, vertical expertise and service as the “central levers.”

Russwurm said the sector intends to strengthen its vertical market and service business and further expand its leading role in industrial software. “Software for industrial processes, in-depth vertical expertise and technology-based service are crucial to increasing our customer’s productivity and are also important factors driving the growth of our own business. We will continue to put all our efforts into developing our industrial activities in these areas so we can expand our market share,” Russwurm continued.

Profibus, Festo and more

I had a tour of the complete Festo booth first thing in the morning. An interesting, if quiet, company. I knew it for pneumatics, but it has a surprising array of pneumatic and electronic equipment. The soft robot gripper was very interesting, as well as “the elephant”—an array of nine pneumatic cylinders wrapped inside a plastic housing with the soft gripper that looke eerily like an elephant trunk that move due to varying pressure in the cylinders.

At the Profibus International booth, there was an update on the status of the various networks including a display of all the Profienergy products that have been released. I don’t have the link, yet, but we shot a video of Carl Henning explaining it. Profinet keeps expanding its influence, as well. Here’s Carl (dark suit) explaining Profienergy to Automation World Publisher Jim Chrzan.

Gerd Hoppe, chief technology officer of Beckhoff Automation, took us on a tour of 25 years of PC-based control. The Ethernet-based network it developed—EtherCAT—is growing in popularity. He showed demonstrations of the speed of the network coupled with Beckhoff controllers.


Back with more tomorrow. Lots more appointments—not to mention two receptions at 6. Wonder how I’ll do that?

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