Adding IoT value through passive EtherCAT network data tapping

Hattersheim, 30. Mar. 2023 – Hilscher Gesellschaft für Systemautomation mbH is expanding its netFIELD IoT ecosystem with the application container netFIELD App EtherCAT Tap. The application functions as a software gateway for converting process data from an EtherCAT network into the MQTT protocol. By feeding the data into analysis software, plant operators can benefit from the data with minimal integration effort: For example, through early detection of anomalies in production processes or by optimizing processes after their analysis to increase productivity.

The EtherCAT network configuration is automatically obtained from TwinCAT or other engineering tools via the ENI file. Process data to be published to the MQTT broker is determined in the network tree. By importing ENI project data, additional information can also be imported.

A stylized ear on a colourful background. The EtherCAT logo can be seen on the left side.
Key Facts about Hilscher's netFIELD App EtherCAT Tap

A container host system with integrated industrial network interface based on Hilscher's netX multiprotocol processors, such as those used in PC cards or plug-in modules, is used for tapping EtherCAT network process data. The additional use of Hilscher's passive TAP netMIRROR allows monitoring without interrupting the EtherCAT network in the event of a power failure of the container host.

  • Continuous or interval-based sampling of EtherCAT networks
  • Data input protocol: EtherCAT
  • Data output protocol: MQTT
  • MQTT Publisher Interval: Minimum 1ms
  • Data distribution to any MQTT broker
  • Data throughput depending on processor performance
A picture showing the flow of EtherCAT data through the TAP app container. A line divides the picture in the middle into OT and IT level.

Technical Benefits


  • Compatible with any EtherCAT controller
  • Requires no changes regarding PLC or machine configuration
  • Has no influence on a running EtherCAT network due passive data capturing
  • Can be easily integrated physically plug-and-play into any existing EtherCAT system
  • Is the fastest way to upgrade systems with modern IoT techniques by using popular MQTT as outbound protocol

Economical Benefits


  • Allows to derive measures to increase plants productivity after analyzing the EtherCAT data
  • Allows to study the overall behavior of controlled EtherCAT signals through machine learning algorithms
  • Enables gapless data capturing without data loss as precondition for reliable 24/7 data logging and evidence tracking
  • Enables realization of predictive maintenance scenarios due to long-term data mining


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