Technology & Products
EchoRing is an industrial-grade wireless network that can wirelessly transmit Ethernet-based traffic (i.e. PROFINET, PROFIsafe, Ethernet IP, SafetyNET p). On a technical level, it’s a Medium Access Control (MAC) layer protocol for wireless communications that performs the same role as Ethernet cables within industrial systems. EchoRing is currently in its initial product version and will be compatible with other interfaces such as USB or Serial in the future.
Yes, it’s developed in-house here in Berlin and is a protected international IP. EchoRing’s software stack integrates easily with existing Industrial Communications Standards and can run on standard commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware.
EchoRing can support as few as two participants per network. However, to maximize reliability a network should include at least three nodes, even if only two are active participants. The third serves as a backup anchor point and should be placed in a commanding location, ensuring ultra-reliable point-to-point communications.
A single EchoRing network can currently support as many as 20 nodes per wireless channel. In larger applications requiring more participants, standard 20-or-under node networks become independent subnetworks or “cells: within a larger, collective network. With several connection slots left open in each of these cells, mobile stations (such as AGVs) can easily roam around a large network.
EchoRing currently has a CE mark in the European Economic Area (EEA) and an FCC Declaration of Conformity in the US, with more approvals underway. In both agencies EchoRing is listed as a wireless system for Short Range Device (SRD) communications.
EchoRing can operate in the license-free 5.8 GHz radio band in the EU and the 5.2 and 5.8 GHz bands in the US. More frequencies will be available in the future.
EchoRing’s network range (the maximum distance where nodes can communicate) depends on an application’s required reliability, its transmission power, installed antennas, environmental conditions and local radio regulations. For example, an application in the EU requiring high reliability in a harsh industrial environment would have a range of approximately 25-30m. The same application in the US would have a range of around 75m, since the region has a higher transmit power threshold.
EchoRing is a fully-meshed network, meaning all network nodes have equal standing and can all communicate directly with each other. This contrasts with Wi-Fi networks where every signal must pass through a central wireless access point. An EchoRing network can also be configured for asymmetrical load distribution – often necessary in industrial communication networks.
Depending on the network’s configured cycle time (specifically its token rotation time or TRT), a node typically requires two TRT cycles to join a network, to a maximum of three. For example, a node would take 20 – 30ms to join a network with a TRT of 10ms.
Currently, EchoRing only supports roaming for location-based awareness, where nodes can leave one network and join another. Roaming latency is identical to the connection time for joining a network. EchoRing’s seamless roaming feature is currently under development and will be released via a future software update. This feature will allow for uninterrupted connectivity (from a PLC standpoint) within defined TRT cycle times.
EchoRing’s data rate depends on a series of trade-offs between a network’s set packet length, packet period, asymmetrical load distribution, target latency, number of network participants and so on. Maximum data rate for priority traffic is 5 Mbit/s, aggregated for an entire network running on a 20 MHz channel bandwidth. Maximum data rate for best effort can be up to 36 Mbit/s, while enabling 40 MHz channels doubles the data-rate characteristics. Future software versions will include optimization controls to increase maximum data rate for priority traffic.
Channel states are updated following every TRT cycle; every 5ms, for example. This creates a variable “speed limit” based on the application’s set TRT length. Exact specifications for a single application are revealed though testing.
Our current hardware device (Ethernet Bridge) supports either 24VDC or 48VDC Power over Ethernet (PoE). Other power supply options are available for deeper system integration.
Yes – EchoRing is compatible with seven unique radio channels in the EU and ten in the US, all in the 5 GHz range. Further channel flexibility (such as campus networks) is currently under development.
Setup & Operation
Each client represents a unique software/hardware scenario and set of requirements to develop for. Solutions range from easy integration via our Rollout Kit and Ethernet Bridges to deep integration via our System-On-Module, or a software-only solution configured to the client’s existing hardware. We also offer reference designs for clients to develop their own EchoRing-capable hardware modules. Individualized deployment plans are determined through a series of interviews, on-site workshops and prototyping.
Once properly deployed, an EchoRing network simply functions the same way as wireless industrial cable. It dynamically adjusts to environmental changes and requires minimal input from the user. That said, we still provide active network management and monitoring tools (such as the Rollout Kit’s Health Monitor).
Clients are contacted at regular intervals for software updates. R3 handles all necessary installation.
EchoRing is intended for any machine-to-machine application that aims to increase flexibility and scalability, lower maintenance costs and simplify engineering. While smart manufacturing and aerospace make up the core of our current client base, they only represent some of our potential use cases.
As covered in our EchoRing Basics page, our technology’s key advantage is its quartet of real-time latency, ultra-reliability, decentralization and easy integration. Wi-Fi for example boasts high bandwidth but is too interruption-prone to entrust to critical systems. 5G promises both low latency and high reliability, but remains unproven for machine-to-machine applications and requires massive, lengthy infrastructure overhauls to justify a switch from wired systems. Both examples are also centralized around a single transmitting weak point (thereby lacking redundancy) whereas EchoRing is a decentralized, deterministic network with no master transmitter. It’s also proven, tested, currently in-use and runs easily on existing infrastructure.
EchoRing reduces costs through a combination of simplifying installation and integration of new units, shortening maintenance cycles/unplanned downtime, increasing operational flexibility/efficiency, and lowering total weight, resulting in less power and fuel consumption.