The upward growth trajectory of IO-Link continues unabated

Some of the many benefits offered by the globally established communication standard IO-Link include system and fieldbus independence. The universal and compatible interface allows the integrated networking of sensors and actuators, which reduces the costs associated with installation, commissioning, and plant maintenance. IO-Link makes it possible to collect and evaluate not only process data, but also other information. Pepperl+Fuchs offers a broad portfolio of IO-Link devices, ranging from Ethernet IO modules and intelligent sensors through to RFID read/write devices.         

The increasing complexity of plants and systems has led to ever-increasing demands on sensors and actuators in terms of functionality and parameterization. The IO-Link command interface was created to integrate such intelligent sensors simply, consistently, and with compatibility across all manufacturers. In 2013, the IO-Link was the first IO technology to be standardized worldwide in accordance with IEC 61131-9.

The simplicity and clear benefits of IO-Link mean that its success story has continued ever since. With over 5.3 million devices in 2016, growth stood at a staggering 47 %. As well as the number of devices, the number of companies joining the IO-Link community is also increasing. IO-Link is just as widespread in America and Asia as it is in Europe.

Point-to-point communication is implemented using simple unshielded cables in familiar 3-wire connections between sensors and actuators, which reduces installation costs.

IO-Link not only reduces the effort and cost involved in commissioning, but also offers benefits at a later stage during operation within the plant. As well as process and diagnostic data, status information and parameter data can be exchanged via IO-Link. For example, automatic parameterization of the IO-Link devices can be carried out via the PLC, which among other things, simplifies the exchange of data for service purposes and minimizes downtimes. Comprehensive diagnostic options down to field level, including remote functionalities, ensure that operation is cost-effective and low-maintenance, which boosts overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). The standardized bi-directional connection provides transparent information about plant status and allows the parameter values of the connected IO-Link devices to be changed quickly during operation. This allows production plants to be used more flexibly, ensuring that products can be tailored to individual customer demands to an ever greater extent, with decreasing batch sizes and a high degree of automation.

Pepperl+Fuchs offers an extensive portfolio of IO-Link infrastructure components and IO-Link devices The Ethernet IO module ICE1-8IOL-G60L-V1D with integrated IO-Link master features multi-protocol capability, web-based configuration, and the well-known quality in a rugged metal housing with M12 connectors suitable for industrial use. Simple binary sensors are still used in large quantities, and can be integrated uniformly via I/O hubs with IO-Link interface, such as the ICA-16DI-G60A-IO from Pepperl+Fuchs. Up to 16 sensors can be integrated via a single IO-Link connection on the IO-Link master.

A wide range of intelligent IO-Link sensors can furthermore be procured from a single source. From opto-electronic light barriers, light grids, distance sensors, and ultrasonic sensors through to inductive positioning systems, Pepperl+Fuchs offers an extensive selection from a single source.

RFID read/write heads for frequency 13.56 MHz (HF) following the internationally used standard ISO 15693 for direct connection to any IO-Link master are already available in three familiar designs for various applications. Thanks to the “Easy-Mode”, the RFID devices can be easily integrated on the basis of the plug-and-play principle. This avoids the need for a function block or additional programming effort. Identification tasks can also be performed quickly and easily via an integrated connection. The IO-Link RFID components complement the existing RFID portfolio. A wide selection of RFID read/write units for various ranges and frequency bands (LF, HF, and UHF) is also available for connection to the tried-and-tested IDENTControl control interfaces.

IO-Link is more than just a universal interface for the “last meter”, however. It facilitates end-to-end communication from field level through to control level, thus meeting the requirements of Industry 4.0. Vertical integration options mean that useful information about machines and how they are used can be collected, evaluated, displayed, and made available in internal IT systems or the cloud. Intelligent networking of sensors and the data obtained enables the potential of the Internet of Things and paves the way for new areas of application such as condition monitoring and predictive maintenance.

By continuously developing its IO-Link portfolio and expanding its range of innovative solutions, Pepperl+Fuchs supports its customers as they move toward Industry 4.0 and implement new digital business models.


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