IO-Link is a point-to-point communication technology that can be implemented into most PLC configurations or integrated into most existing industrial Ethernet networks via a device called IO-Link master. It is the first standardized IO technology worldwide (IEC 61131-9) for point-to-point communication between sensors, actuators, and control devices – comparable to an “industrial USB” and is the perfect local extension of a superior industrial Ethernet network. Thanks to its simple installation, better control, and enhanced diagnostics capabilities, IO-Link has already secured a large user base.
There are multiple advantages for engineers when designing an IO-link architecture for their latest equipment. For example: when applying a Parker IO-Link connected Moduflex valve island, in addition to simplified and standardized wiring, they can also realize the benefits of remote configuration, monitoring, and increased data availability, leading to enhanced diagnostics. Utilizing IO-Link can also be especially beneficial for machine applications where there are frequent changeovers or reconfiguration as this time can be reduced, as can unplanned downtime.
IO-Link doesn’t require any special or complicated wiring, which is a major benefit for adopting it as a communication method. Instead, IO-Link devices can be connected using standard 3 or 5-wire M12 cables, the same you would use to connect a standard proximity switch.
If previously you were using 25-pin wiring for a pneumatic valve manifold, then an upgrade to IO-Link would offer similar diagnostics and performance as with an industrial network (e.g. Profinet) but at a significantly lower cost and with a less complex system:
• Highly cost-effective solution - It replaces an analog I/O and its 4-20mA/0-10V signal with the IO-Link digital information from an analog sensor, or to an analog device such as pressure regulator, saving on inventory costs
• Enables possibilities for customer to de-centralize devices - On small- to medium-sized machines, many of the available IO-Link masters are IP67 and can be placed on the machine near the I/O points instead of in a centralized cabinet
• Suitable for SAFE power source - Some IO-Link devices, such as the Parker’s IO-Link valve islands solution, are even suitable for use with a SAFE power source which is becoming an important requirement on many markets due to machine directives
IO-Link offers an increase in availability of data to the PLC, which helps to reduce time and money spent on troubleshooting analysis. There are three data types available:
• Process data – Cyclic information that is transferred between device and the master automatically on a regular basis, used as I/O for the machine controls
• Service data – information about the device itself, such as model and serial number, or error messages and maintenance warnings (e.g. device overheating, maximal current is exceeded, coil short circuit)
• Parameter data – information that can be written in, or read from the device on request such as voltage level or counting cycles to support preventive maintenance needs
With IO-Link, you can read and change device parameters through the control system software which enables faster configuration and commissioning, plus changes can be made dynamically from the control system as needed. IO-Link also offers the ability to monitor device outputs, receive real-time status alerts, and adjust settings from virtually anywhere. Users can identify and resolve problems that arise in a timely manner and make decisions based on real-time data from the machine components themselves.
With visibility into errors and health status from each device, users can see not only what the device is doing but also how well it is performing. These extended diagnostics allow users to easily identify when a device is malfunctioning and diagnose the problem without shutting down the line or machine. The combination of real-time and historical data available via IO-Link helps to ensure smooth operation of system components, simplifies device replacement and enables the operator to optimize machine maintenance schedules – saving cost and reducing the risk of machine downtime.
Many general pneumatic control applications can benefit from such modules, including packaging machines, automotive systems and factory automation. In fact, if you happen to visit any automotive or packaging facility, the ‘elephant in the room’ will be clear to see: the big controller cabinet housing the PLCs and contactors. These cabinets consume valuable floor space, but now they are set to shrink in size. Safety relays are increasingly moving out of the cabinet, and trends indicate that PLCs are soon to follow. This ‘do more with less’ business model should encourage any of you who typically still hard-wire valve manifolds, to make that leap towards industrial networks such as IO-Link.
Use our configurator on Parker.com to discover how you can utilize IO-Link for your application.
Article contributed by Patrick Berdal, EMEA product manager for control devices, Pneumatic Division Europe, Parker Hannifin Corporation.