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Interview with Peter Lutz, sercos international e.V.

How sercos III supports multi-vendor applications

Machine-builders raised an innovation issue in the new market study „Ethernet and Safety Ethernet until 2015“ concerning uniformity in employment of various real time Ethernet protocols on the machine. Thomas Quest spoke to Peter Lutz, Managing Director of the trade association sercos international e.V. about the contribution of sercos for fulfillment of this requirement.

Peter Lutz

Mr. Lutz, as the quoted statements confirm, machine-builders are demanding uniformity in the employment of various real time Ethernet protocols at the machine. Even a multi-slave-chip or a field bus manager for multi-vendor-applications is sometimes requested. What about your reply to these machine-builders?


An important step in the direction required by the machine-builders is that a standardized Ethernet-based networking structure already can be used to connect devices with different protocols (sercos® III, EtherNet/IP and TCP/IP) with machine control systems. This noticeably reduces the costs and complexity of the integration of machines. And the machine-builders can keep their preferred product providers and automation devices.


sercos international is also working against the trend for diversification in automation technology that we decided not to establish a proprietary Safety protocol. Instead, we are promoting CIP Safety - an established Safety protocol used world-wide for DeviceNet, EtherNet/IP and others.

The quoted statements of the machine-builders also address a higher compatibility of the automation components among themselves. What contribution can sercos III make to the unified networking of automation?


Such a contribution of sercos III is already working in practice in many multi-vendor applications in various sectors. Examples are: Rovema and SMI, both packaging machine manufacturers; Dürr in robotics and Manz in photovoltaics.


Accurate and complete specifications ensure the best possible compatibility of sercos-III-components from various manufacturers.


This compatibility refers not only to the communication protocol, but even the device profiles are completely specified, so that a machine-builder, a system integrator or a control system manufacturer can integrate or exchange devices of various manufacturers at minimum expense.

Some sercos users complain that the supply of peripherals is not so large with sercos III. What do you tell them?


When sercos III first came on the market, there were not too many peripherals offered. This was primarily caused by the fact that many users and suppliers at first did not see any urgent reasons to switch to Ethernet-based sercos III. After all, the efficient sercos II fulfilled all the current requirements for motion in particular.


However, in the past several years the situation changed substantially. Now machine-builders want to cover their requirements with a universal and unified Ethernet network. And this is exactly what sercos III offers, having developed from a specific drive bus to a universal automation bus.

Coexistence of sercos®-III and EtherNet/IP: Control systems prototypes by Bosch Rexroth and Schneider Electric


Thus, the spectrum of products and suppliers for sercos has been growing very strongly in the last few years. It covers not only control systems and drives from well-known manufacturers, but a large variety of peripheral device components such as distributed I/Os, safety components, rotational transducers, camera systems, sensor technology, and hydraulic and pneumatic components.

Thank you, Mr. Lutz, for the interview.

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Machine-builders are demanding uniformity with the use of various real time Ethernet protocols:

Currently three different Ethernet buses are still used, however, a standardization would be beautiful and desirable.“ (Machine tools)

Above all that industry standards are maintained, that manufacturers communicate among themselves, and that they do not do their own thing. That’s what is making the most trouble for us.“ (Printing/paper handling machines)

„Creating a higher compatibility of the individual systems among themselves in the future.“ (Rubber/plastics machines)