Connecting Torque Transducers to EtherCAT Systems Using TIM-EC

Torque sensors are typically connected using the standard EtherCAT I/O modules such as with the frequency or analog inputs. This connection approach offers certain advantages due to its standardization, but it also has a serious disadvantage for highly developed and high-precision torque transducers such as the model T40B from HBM: it does not exploit the full power of the sensor.

T40B torque transducer

Standard Connections: Insufficient for High-Performance Transducers

Standard connections are often insufficient for high-performance transducers.  Why? The explanation is simple. Regular methods of data communication are not fast enough for modern sensors such as the T40B. "Transducer manufacturers are in the best position to develop the conditioning and diagnostic functions in their fieldbus couplers," explains Yves Rosnoblet of the French company Dynosens.

"The I/O modules developed by providers of automation systems are designed for a wide range of applications and are not optimized for all intelligent transducer types especially not for a highly developed transducer from the T40B class." 

TIM-EC interface module
Markus Haller, Product Manager for torque at HBM

TIM-EC: An essential tool for torque measurement technology

The TIM-EC interface module bypasses this weakness when connecting the T40B torque transducer to EtherCAT systems. With a maximum input resolution of 25 bits, TIM-EC has outstanding accuracy. With minimum group delay in digital data transfer, it transports the high performance of the torque sensor into the EtherCAT world, optimizing the performance capabilities of both EtherCAT and the HBM torque sensors. These performance improvements provide better options for controlling the test bench and running tests efficiently, with the ultimate goal of achieving more precise results for better products.

The modular architecture of the TIM-EC module enables control and automation solution to operate optimally and respond to the challenges of test tasks. Markus Haller, Product Manager for torque at HBM, explains, "TIM-EC provides users with extensive diagnostic data and measured values for torque, rotational speed, angle of rotation and power. With the new intercommunication function, users can operate a single transducer on two separate TIM-EC modules connected to each other via the backplane bus. This makes it possible to save and modify all settings, such as signal conditioning, scaling, calibration data, etc., in each module without any communication problems and independently of each other."   Much more than just a high-precision I/O module, the TIM-EC module has numerous special functions for improving and optimizing torque measurements.

Linearization of the Characteristic Curve of the Transducer with TIM-EC

The integrated grid point approximation for linearizing the characteristic curve enables users to optimally match the torque transducer and interface module. The comprehensive diagnostics concept (web server, EtherCAT) allow users to get information about the measurement chain's overall status at any time.

Mixed Operation of Different Industrial Ethernet Networks

TIM-EC features are continually in development worldwide. For example, a new TIM-EC function lays the foundation for future mixed operation of different industrial Ethernet networks. This configuration will also make it possible to operate a torque transducer on different networks - EtherCAT and PROFINET, for example, simultaneously ensuring real-time-capable communication within both networks.

A recently integrated intercommunication functionality, also called TIM-to-TIM communication, is setting new standards in flexibility. Using TIM-EC with T40B can be a crucial factor optimizing the high performance capability of the torque transducers, even in a highly automated or highly dynamic test series.

EtherCAT and torque measurement

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3 Questions about TIM-EC

1. Who should use TIM-EC?

TIM-EC is the ideal solution for all users of the T40B torque transducer who work with EtherCAT on their test benches.

2. What advantages does TIM-EC offer me?

With its minimum group delay and a maximum input resolution of 25 bits, TIM-EC allows for a high-performance connection between your torque transducers and EtherCAT systems. This opens up whole new possibilities for high-precision control and analysis of measurement series, especially for dynamic tests. Furthermore, bidirectional communication is possible via EtherCat directly with the sensor right up to the rotor and stator electronics for the purposes of diagnostics and parameterization.

3. Can I retrofit existing systems?

TIM-EC is a modular system. That means that all HBM torque transducers with an integrated TMC interface (currently all torque transducers in the T40 series) can be very easily retrofitted and expanded.

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