IO-Link has a ton of flexibility and knowing the strengths will help select the best solution.
As a quick recap let’s review how the communication functions:
- IO-Link introduces bi-directional communications from sensors and actuators in the field back to the controller.
- This allows users to get additional diagnostics and feedback from the sensors that isn’t typical or readily available.
- Things like margin indication, signal strength, temperature, humidity, and indication/identification are all samples of data that is readily available.
- The technology allows the user to easily map and control via a controller, counters, timers, and enhanced range settings!
Now that we know the type data, we will consider how to progress through the decision-making process when it comes to your application. Remember, it all comes down to data – having data for data’s sake will not add value! Keep that in mind as you proceed.
Imagine you have a new expansion in your facility and with it comes a new production line. To make the line operational you will be adding 128 sensors. Let’s look at how this would be achieved wiring directly versus using IO-Link technology.
Without IO-Link –
Your technician(s) must take flying leads from 128 sensors (4 wires per sensor) and terminate them with a screwdriver on each of the IO Cards they have available. That’s 512 wires they must manually terminate. That introduces 512 opportunities to make a mistake in wiring. If they don’t use junction boxes there is 128 sensor cables coming back to the controller. If they use junction boxes, they must wire to this box and then use a switch and ethernet back to the controller. As you are probably visualizing there is a lot of opportunity for errors and the time of installation is significant.
With IO-Link –
In this scenario we will use an on-Machine IO-Link Master to provide shorter cable runs, easier wiring with QD cables, and visual indication on the machine. This allows ethernet to be utilized to pull data from the IO-Link master and deliver it to the controller with just 1 wire! With this method, you would need an 8-Input IO-Link Master. From there 8 IO-Link Hub’s would be needed to connect to the sensors. The hubs will have 16 sensors each to achieve our goal of 128 sensors.
To break it down further we have:
- 1 PLC
- 1 Master
- 8 Hubs
- 16 sensors per hub
- 128 sensors on a line moving data like never before!
The IO-Link Master cost difference would be null since the master would replace the standard IO card that would need to be procured.
The IO-Link Hubs would be an added costs however when you lay the cost on top of the saved installation time the costs quickly neutralize.
The best applications for IO Link are ones that need enhanced data. If you have no intention of utilizing data in any means to enhance your system IO Link would not be advisable. The more sensors/devices the faster cost savings will be realized around labor.
To learn more about IO-Link connect with our team of experts and see how the technology could impact your most complex applications firsthand!