Beckhoff Automation

Courtesy of Beckhoff
Courtesy of Beckhoff

I’ve written a few posts on controls platforms, notably on Allen-Bradley, Automation Direct/Koyo, and Siemens. A couple of friends have written guest posts on Idec and Panasonic.

I am still hoping to get some contributors to write articles on GE, Modicon, Mitsubishi, Omron and ABB. Any other platform would be good too.

While this isn’t exactly a typical post, I did get an e-mail from our local Beckhoff representative, Richard Smith, that explains what they do and provides some good links.


Here is a link to an overview of Beckhoff. One of our core philosophies is solutions through software.

TwinCAT is our software that is all inclusive. TwinCAT 3 is our latest version. Machine control using Ladder, Structured Text, C/C++, Matlab/Simulink, Function Block Diagram, Instruction List, and Sequential function charts. The same, no cost and fully functional, engineering software also includes drives, HMI, safety, and I/O commissioning modules that allow engineers to work from one tag database and have one software for debug and maintenance of the system.

EtherCAT was originally developed by Beckhoff and is the fastest Ethernet based network allowing evaluation of data down to the microsecond. No switches are required and can be deployed is line, ring or star topology or any combination of these topologies. Ring redundancy is also available if necessary.

TwinSAFE is the Beckhoff safety system. Controllers in a single slice sitting on the EtherCAT network can control up to 128 other TwinSAFE devices including TwinSAFE drives and TwinSAFE I/O. We also have TwinSAFE standalone safety controllers .

Last but not least is the fact that we play well with others. All of our drives and I/O and TwinSAFE devices can be put behind one of our many industrial network interfaces such as PROFINET RT, EtherNet/IP, PROFIBUS, CANopen, DeviceNet, Modbus TCP and others. Some of our bus couplers also have small controllers in them to reorganize and/or rescale data before it is communicated to the system controller.

Back when I was at Wright Industries, a lot of projects were substituting Beckhoff’s remote I/O blocks for Allen-Bradley. I wasn’t ever on one of those, so I can’t speak from personal experience, but I do see a lot of Beckhoff when I visit plants around the country. Leave a comment with your experiences with Beckhoff!


Electrical Engineer and business owner from the Nashville, Tennessee area. I also play music, Chess and Go.

2 Comments on “Beckhoff Automation

  1. I have used Beckhoff’s EtherCAT since 2005 to control propulsion tests. We needed 10 ms response for >10 channels. We run most controllers at 0.1 ms cycle time currently (<1 ms response). Beckhoff proved a wise choice. Their EtherCAT field-bus is now widely used and they moved their configuration/programming to familiar Microsoft Visual Studio. It seems a good choice for high-end tasks like electronic assembly and scientific apps. The hardware is actually less expensive than A-B and Siemens, and is easier to wire and manage. Beckhoff's "slice I/O" has also become popular with other manufacturers. Wago partnered with Beckhoff early-on, but split their own line which is an older and slower field-bus.

    • I just bought my first Beckhoff PLC, a 9020, and hope to get a chance to play around with it soon. I agree that it is probably a better choice than AB or Siemens costwise, and much more capable than Automation Direct. I would still prefer AB or Siemens software as far as rapid code development.