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The most important features of the EtherCAT real-time Ethernet fieldbus system include its diagnostic hardware and software options: the system not only detects faults in the EtherCAT network, but also locates them, including loose plug connections. This makes the approach ideal for building a robust industrial network environment. The fault diagnosis allows potential downtimes in a production plant to be prevented.

Third-party vendors who can work with any EtherCAT master implementation without additional hardware customization can now use the software-based, low-memory diagnostic interface. Integrating the interface into the in-house diagnostic tool allows the direct retrieval of information about the network topology, comparison with the expected configuration as well as the detection of transmission disturbances and unexpected status changes of the slave devices used. The EtherCAT communication protocol is used to connect a wide range of peripherals and is supported, for example, by the PCRM robot control module from Pilz .