EC-Inspector: Troubleshooting and Monitoring Tool for EtherCAT® Networks

Overview

EC-Inspector is an easy to use software application for Windows for analyzing and monitoring EtherCAT networks. The program can be used independently of the master controller and works with EtherCAT masters from any manufacturer (Beckhoff, Omron, Bosch-Rexroth, Lenze, acontis, etc.). EC-Inspector analyzes the complete data traffic between the master and the EtherCAT slaves via a TAP (Test Access Point) device inserted after the master. The TAP device enables both the outgoing frames (Master --> Slaves) and the incoming frames (Master <-- Slaves) to be recorded and evaluated.

EtherCAT Analysis Without Any Impact on the Network

With EC-Inspector, there is no need to intervene in the network, control, the EtherCAT master software, or the configuration. EC-Inspector is therefore suitable for new installations (greenfield) as well as for existing systems and machines (brownfield). The raw data (EtherCAT frames) is decoded and associated with the corresponding symbolic variables (inputs and outputs) based on the descriptions from the EtherCAT Network Information file (ENI).

In addition to monitoring process data, EC-Inspector can also be used to analyze communication faults on the EtherCAT network. As long as the EtherCAT master software is regularly checking the slave error counter register, this data can also be analyzed by EC-Inspector and the faults can be clearly visualized in the topology view.

System Architecture

Analyzing and Decoding of EtherCAT Protocol Based on Network Information file (ENI)

Monitoring of Process Data Variables

Monitoring of Slave State

Analysis of Communication Problems Frame Errors, Link Loss, etc.

Processing of Previously Captured Frames (Wireshark file)

Architecture

Stepwise Processing of EtherCAT Frames Based on Network Cycles

Snapshot and Offline Diagnosis

  • Collect data from the current diagnosis state and save it into a capture file
  • Offline investigation mode for analyzing captured data
  • Capture file can be emailed for further analysis by someone else
  • Use captured data as documentation, like for a status report

Features

  • Analyzing and Decoding the EtherCAT Protocol
  • Utilizes the EtherCAT Network Information (ENI) file
  • Monitoring of Process Data Variables
  • Monitoring of Slave States
  • Monitoring of Slave Error Counters (ESC registers 0x300 to 0x313)
  • Graphical View of Network Topology
  • Processing of Previously Captured and Saved Raw Network Traffic (Wireshark files)
  • Take Snapshots to Save to Files

Advantages

  • No integration with the existing master controller required
  • No specific TAP device required, even a regular switch device may be used
  • No impact (e.g. timing, load) on the existing network and application
  • No changes to existing software required
  • Very small engineering effort: simply use the existing ENI file
  • Use the same tool to analyze machines operated by controllers from different manufacturers (Beckhoff, Bosch-Rexroth, Omron, Yaskawa, etc.)
  • No installation of Windows Packet Capture Library & Driver (WinPcap / Npcap) required

More information

Data sheets and evaluation versions are available in the download area.