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Programming a KEB EtherCAT VFD in 5 Minutes

Scott Froehle | May 12th, 2020

There are many different variable frequency drive (VFD) brands available today, each one with a different way of controlling a motor. KEB’s focus up through our generation 5 VFDs was almost limitless functionality within the drive. We achieved this with our internal positioning module and 8 selectable sets. The sets essentially allow you to store 8 different programs in the drive and switch to the appropriate one instantly via a digital input, over the bus, when the motor reaches a certain speed, etc… This makes for a very flexible and capable VFD.  In order to leverage the full capability a user needs to know what parameters to use and when to use them. Every manufacturer’s VFD has a learning curve and typically the more flexible the product, the steeper the curve.

Related Article: KEB S6 Drive – Basic Start Up Proceedure


With our 6th generation of drives, KEB engineering put a lot of time into making the product and programming more user-friendly flattening the learning curve while still enabling powerful functionality within the VFD. This was implemented through startup wizards available in KEB’s generation 6 drives (S6, F6, H6). The thought behind these wizards is to reduce development time by making all of the common motor control functions available with a few clicks. This post covers how to get a motor spinning in minutes utilizing these startup wizards.


Useful Background Information

KEB’s VFD programming software can be downloaded here.

A step-by-step walk-through of the KEB startup wizards can be found here.

When you first connect to the VFD (KEB’s F6 in this example), the startup wizard tab will open.  Machine builders’ main focus when working on a new system in terms of the VFD is getting it set up and communicating with the PLC, which is easily doable with our Modes of operation and Fieldbus wizards:


The quick start wizard bar in Combivis programming software
This is the quick start wizard bar in Combivis programming software


Modes of Operation

The Modes of Operation wizard lets you pick what setting the VFD will receive and what calculations it will make.  A significant feature of KEB’s closed loop AND open loop VFD is our internal positioning module.  This allows for position move functions to be implemented and the KEB VFD will calculate the motion profile of the move.  Some common positioning functions that are used are relative/absolute move, preset position moves, and target position from an external source (typically PLC or analog).  These functions being run in the VFD allow the machine designer to save cost by enabling them to use a less powerful PLC as the positioning is accomplished in the VFD.  For one axis the load saving is small but when you have multiple axes, taking multiple positioning loads off of your PLC is a big help.

You might think that powerful positioning functionality would take a lot of development time to implement, but it is easily activated in KEB’s generation 6 VFDs with 2 clicks in our startup Wizards.  You simply go to the Modes of Operation wizard and click the Profile position mode box.  Profile position mode tells the drive to receive a position command via external source and generate the motion profile for the motor to get to that position:


Select Profile Position mode in KEB Combivis Programming Software
Choosing the “Profile Position Mode” among the quick start mode options


The motion profile can then be fine-tuned by the machine builder to best suit their needs.  Conveyor axes will have a longer smooth S-curve to get up to speed and stop while fixed indexing axes will have short steep S-curves to get up to speed as quickly as possible to increase throughput.  The motion profile is easily modified in the Profile position mode box in the Modes of operation startup wizard below:


KEB COMBIVIS Programming software screenshot showing profile position modes
KEB COMBIVIS Programming software screenshot showing profile position modes



Another time saving startup wizard for getting your VFD setup in minutes is the Fieldbus wizard.  I have had OEMs using other brand VFDs that they were happy to get EtherCAT communication between their VFD and PLC up and running in 2 weeks of development time.  With a KEB Generation 6 drive, you simply open up the fieldbus startup wizard, click on stored mappings, and select our standard PD mapping for our F6/H6/S6 drives.  It will populate your transmit PDOs to have: Statusword, position actual value, velocity actual value, and mode of operation.  It will populate your receive PDOs to have: Control word, target position, target velocity, mode of operation, homing method, vl target velocity, profile velocity, and end velocity.

Related Article: Glossary of PLC Terms


KEB COMBIVIS Programming software screenshot showing EtherCAT Communication Fieldbus function
Select “Stored Mappings” and then “Load” and then “Standard PD Mapping (F6/H6/S6)”


You will be able to solve the majority of applications with this KEB standard process data mapping.  If you want to transmit or receive additional data, you can simply drag and drop parameters from the drive list into the blank (grey).  Once you are happy with the process data, you can easily export a XML or ESI file directly from the wizard to load onto your PLC.



Using KEB’s generation 6 VFD startup wizards, machine builders are able to get the VFD up and running on a new application in minutes.  You can use the positioning module within the KEB VFD to take some of the load off of your PLC and have better control of your motor.  EtherCAT communication can be set up using the KEB standard or your custom process data mapping.  With a few clicks, you will have the XML or ESI file needed to load into your PLC. These KEB specific tools help machine builders minimize development time and enable them to get their machines to market sooner.

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