IDEC and Lakeland Engineering Equipment Co. Successfully Test EtherNet/IP Protocol

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Defining an Application Note to Connect the IDEC FC6A with the ABB ACS580 on EtherNet/IP


IDEC recently came to Lakeland Engineering Equipment Company to develop and test an application note on how to configure the IDEC FC6A Plus MicroSmart PLC to communicate on EtherNet/IP with a variable frequency drive (VFD).

The PLC product manager at IDEC challenged all Automation Field Sales Engineers (AFSE) to test the EtherNet protocol against other manufacturers that already had it onboard. Greg Hess, ASFE for IDEC and Lakeland’s local representative, approached Lakeland Engineering Equipment Company’s Automation Specialist, Karla Davidson, to tackle this PLC and VFD communication challenge. He needed someone that understood VFDs, had products with the EtherNet/IP capability, and encompassed a broad knowledge of other automation products.

“I have worked with Karla and the Lakeland team for a few years now,” said Greg. “When the opportunity to create this application note came about, I had the option to go to any of my distributor or automation partners. I thought of Karla immediately. I know Karla is a certified VFD specialist, the PLC product support specialist, and has a lot of experience with other automation products.”

“When the opportunity to create this application note came about, I had the option to go to any of my distributor or automation partners. I thought of Karla immediately.”


The FC6A Plus was released with an updated EtherNet/IP firmware. The IDEC team was in the process of developing EtherNet/IP instructions and had the challenge of developing and testing application notes for a variety of components including multiple VFD manufacturers.

“Karla has successfully connected other products so I knew she could accomplish this as well,” said Greg. Once Karla eagerly accepted the challenge, the goal was to select the right VFD for the job. Together, they selected an ABB VFD. “I had a demo of the ABB ACS580 that has the EtherNet/IP firmware installed,” said Karla. “The ABB ACS580 is intuitive and comes with a free, user-friendly software. I knew if we could make the two talk and explain the process with ease, these products paired together would be a beneficial solution for many of our customers.”

The goal was not only to make the two devices talk, but to streamline the process and find the best possible way to connect the PLC and VFD that users could easily replicate.


“I couldn’t ask for better local representation and support,” Karla said when asked about the working relationship with IDEC.

The testing began with using the EZ-EDS file from ODVA and finding ABB’s EDS files. The IDEC FC6A Plus PLC was then programmed while Karla used the ABB manuals to determine the correct assembly instances to use. “There are a number of variations depending on how much information you would like to share between the VFD and the PLC,” said Karla. “We wanted to test multiple assembly instances to find the right combination. The EDS file contains information that is entered into the PLC. Some PLCs require all of this information and some PLCs do not.”

Throughout the testing process, Karla and Greg were in regular contact. Their history of building a trusting partnership where they understand one another’s strengths proved to be a great benefit in the success of the project. “I couldn’t ask for better local representation and support,” Karla said when asked about their working relationship. “Humorously enough, when Greg first came on board with IDEC, I was hesitant because many of us on the Lakeland team loved working with Jim Sorman (former IDEC and current Lakeland employee). And look at us today – Greg and I are tackling projects left and right and Lakeland is lucky enough to have Jim on our team now!”

“After the drive was set-up, we were still having trouble establishing communication,” said Karla. “If you give me something interesting that hasn’t been done before and I can use what I’ve learned to figure out how to best solve the problem, I will test as many possibilities available until we find a process that will undoubtedly be the best for the user.”

After many trials, Greg and Karla brought in an additional IDEC resource, Rich Kirk, who helped eliminate some of the options we had been testing.


Throughout the various testing phases, Karla and Greg landed on the solution. “We developed a program to set the drive to run, along with a value to remove the run and stop the drive,” explained Karla and Greg. “A simple HMI start / stop with numeric input to change the drive speed was developed. These were the last two missing pieces of the puzzle. We ran the program and successfully tested the communication.”

Through IDEC and Lakeland’s efforts, the application note was developed and tested for connecting the FC6A Plus to the ABB ACS580. “Our test confirmed that with just a few simple steps, the IDEC PLC and ABB Drive are able to communicate with each other,” explained Greg and Karla. “The project was accomplished using the IDEC Automation Organizer and ABB Drive Composer Entry – both software’s work well together, are free and easy to learn.” The goal of streamlining the process while making it user-friendly was accomplished.


“The benefit of working with Lakeland and IDEC is having hands-on, local support at all times,” said Greg. Karla agreed, “Whether you are looking to establish EtherNet/IP connection with this specific VFD, a VFD already within your facility, or, if you’re interested in another automation solution, we can help.” Lakeland and IDEC have local experts that offer guidance and programming assistance while helping to offset the cost of engineering different products.

If you have an automation or communication problem you are trying to solve, connect with the Lakeland team today. Our dedicated support staff, certified drives specialists, and supplier partners, are here to provide the best possible support to fit your unique needs.


For more information on the ABB ACS580 VFD, click here. To learn about the advantages of the IDEC FC6A Plus, watch the video below or reach out to us at

2020-10-28T15:46:24+00:00October 26th, 2020|Case Studies, Services|

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