Pushing for Integration of EtherNet/IP in New Servo Drives and VFDs

July 01, 2020 by Robin Mitchell

KEB America announced their S6 and F6 drives will integrate EtherNet/IP. What are the S6 and F6 drives, and how will they benefit from the integration of EtherNet/IP?

Importance of Network Integration

Providing networking capabilities to any device provides a wealth of opportunity for both the device and the greater network. For industrial systems, being able to access all aspects of an industrial process remotely, allows for a wide range of capabilities. These capabilities include remote monitoring, data gathering for AI, and improved efficiency.

Many industrial processes today still utilize PLCs and motor drive systems that work independently of any network, and upgrading those systems can be a difficult task. Combine this with the inability to gather data, and you have an industrial process that cannot be easily modernized. Designers and engineers are constantly turning towards internet-enabled industrial equipment to not only integrate smart systems, but to help future proof their processes. 


KEB S6 and F6

KEB's existing S6 and the F6 will now be able to support EtherNet/IP in firmware versions 2.6 and later.


The S6

The S6 is a servo drive that is ideal for high-performance servo applications that require real-time communication, SIL3 safety features, and break control. The S6 integrates EtherCAT, Profinet, and Powerlink communications to allow for the use of industrial networks to both remotely monitor the S6 as well as provide remote control.


s6 servo

The S6 servo drive. Image courtesy of KEB America


The narrow footprint of the S6 allows it to be used in compact spaces with two widths available depending on the power handling requirement; 50mm wide for the 2.2KW version and 90mm wide for the 7.5KW version. 


The F6

The F6 is a range of VFDs with a maximum power of 450KW, 230V, and 480V varieties. This range can support switching frequencies up to 16kHz. Supporting EtherCAT, ProfiNet, and Powerlink, the F6 is able to operate with standard industrial networks for both remote monitoring and control. The F6 is capable of working with a wide range of motor types including AC PM servo, linear, torque, and synchronous reluctance motors.


KEB's F6 VFD. Image courtesy of KEB America


Also supported are a range of cooling methods including force air and heatsinks. The F6 can handle 150% its maximum power rating for 30 seconds which is particularly useful in scenarios where motors are being started or when a motor stalls. 


Integration of EtherNet

KEB announced that the S6 and F6 will now support EtherNet/IP in firmware versions 2.6 and later. EtherNet/IP is an industrial network protocol that enables the common industrial protocol to operate over Ethernet. CIP provides a range of features specifically for industrial automation systems including control, safety, synchronizing, motion, and configuration.

Supporting EtherNet/IP is important when taking into account the market share of EtherNet/IP. In 2018 it was estimated to have around 30% of the industrial ethernet market. In EtherNet/IP, basic I/O data is transferred using UDP whereas the uploading and downloading of parameters is done via TCP. Since the S6 and F6 support multiple protocols, the ability to switch between EtherNet/IP and the others (EtherCAT for example), can be done by adjusting a single parameter. 

With a large number of different industrial communication protocols on the market it is important that equipment manufacturers take this into account, and try to support as many as they can. The ability to change the used protocol with a single parameter allows designers to quickly make adjustments to industrial systems, and the S6 and F6 will be a welcome addition to any modern industrial system.