SAVAGE, Minnesota, September 19, 2013 – Beckhoff Automation has released a compact, machine-mountable solution for differential pressure measurement, the new EP3744 EtherCAT Box. This IP 67 rated module combines compressed air measurement, EtherCAT connectivity and digital I/Os for use directly in the process, outside of electrical cabinets.
Compressed air is still used in nearly every area of industry, whether for functions such as control, movement or transport. For efficient machine and plant processes, compressed air must be analyzed and monitored as thoroughly as possible by devices that are integrated into the control system. The feature-laden EP3744 EtherCAT Box is designed to meet these needs and more.
In addition to six digital inputs and two digital outputs, the EP3744 has four pressure inputs with integrated 6 mm fittings. The pressure is measured as the difference to the fifth pressure connection, which is fed via a hose into a protective housing for IP 67 conformity. The measured data is provided in the form of 16-bit values which are transmitted in an electrically isolated manner to the controller. The measuring range is 0 to 1 bar (15 psi), with a resolution of 1 mbar per digit.
This all adds up to a compact, stand-alone device for the direct measurement and monitoring of pressure in the field. On the one hand, long routes or hose connections from the process to the control cabinet are eliminated. On the other, the frequently stipulated isolation of electrical and pneumatic systems is incredibly simple to achieve. Further advantages of this system-integrated solution are the short reaction times – due to local measurement using only one A/D converter – as well as the EtherCAT connection and additional digital I/Os, making integration into the control system particularly efficient.
In addition to control or regulation, analysis and diagnostics are indispensable wherever pneumatic systems are used. For example, the operating pressure can be monitored using the EP3744 EtherCAT Box and an altogether better transparency of the machine is achieved. A further important function is the avoidance of leaks, which reduces the costs associated with the energy-consuming generation of compressed air. Decentralized and system-integrated pressure measurement is also the ideal solution for fast detection and localization of leaks.
The EP3744 can similarly contribute to a smooth workflow: for example, the vacuum necessary for the gripping process in automatic pick-and-place machines can be monitored without great expense. To do this, the EtherCAT Box only needs to be integrated into the compressed air supply of the suction gripper via a simple T-junction.