XFC – The new class of Control Performance
With XFC technology (eXtreme Fast Control Technology) Beckhoff presents an ultra fast control solution: XFC is based on optimised control and communication architectures comprising an advanced Industrial PC, ultra-fast I/O terminals with extended real-time characteristics, the EtherCAT high-speed Ethernet system, and the TwinCAT automation software. With XFC it is possible to achieve I/O response times < 100 μs. This technology opens up new process optimisation opportunities for the user that were not possible in the past due to technical limitations.
XFC represents a control technology that enables very fast and highly deterministic responses. It includes all hardware and software components involved in control applications: optimised input and output components that can detect signals with high accuracy or initiate tasks; EtherCAT as very fast communication network; high-performance Industrial PCs; and TwinCAT, the automation software that links all system components.
Not long ago, control cycle times around 10 to 20 ms were normal. The communications interface was free-running, with corresponding inaccuracy of the determinism associated with responses to process signals. The increased availability of high-performance Industrial PC controllers enabled a reduction in cycle times down to 1–2 ms, i.e. by about a factor of 10. Many special control loops could thus be moved to the central machine controller, resulting in cost savings and greater flexibility in the application of intelligent algorithms.
XFC offers a further reduction of response times by a factor of 10, and enables cycle times of 100 μs, without having to give up central intelligence and associated high-performance algorithms. XFC also includes additional technologies that not only improve cycle times, but also temporal accuracy and resolution.
The I/O response time includes all hardware processing times (IPC, EtherCAT and I/O system), ranging from physical input event to output response. With an I/O response time of < 100 μs, PLC programmers have access to performance that in the past was only available in servo controllers with digital signal processors.
Users benefit from entirely new options for enhancing the quality of their machines and reducing response times. Measuring tasks such as preventive maintenance measures, monitoring of idle times or documentation of parts quality can simply be integrated in the machine control without additional, costly special devices.
In a practical automation solution, not everything has to be extremely fast and accurate – many tasks can still be handled with “normal” solutions. XFC technology is therefore fully compatible with existing solutions and can be used simultaneously with the same hardware and software.