For those in manufacturing you may have heard a new term floating around called IO-Link. Here is a breakdown of what it is and how it can provide value to you in the future.
At its core IO-Link is a worldwide open standard communication protocol which can be used to gain advanced features and diagnostics from the Sensors and Actuators you have in the field. Think sensors on steroids!
In an IO-Link system, an “IO-Link Master” is the interface between the Sensors & Actuators installed and the controller of choice back in the cabinet. There are a variety of IO-Link masters with different communication protocols (Ethernet/IP, DeviceNet, etc…).
This allows you to easily interface with both your existing sensors and controller*.
*In some cases the sensors might need to be updated to sensors with IO-Link capabilities.
IO-Link takes advantage of the industry standard sensor cables (M12, M8, or M5 connectors / 3-Wire+ cables) and introduces Bidirectional Point-To-Point communication. This makes IO-Link Fieldbus Agnostic and easy to adapt into practically any system.
Each IO-Link capable sensor has an embedded IODD (IO Device Description – yes we know more acronyms but hang in there 😊) file which is communicated through the Master allowing the controller access to a set of parameters and functions.
Here are additional features that IO-Link provides:
- Signal strength
- Margin indication
- Sensor identification via PLC/HMI
- And much much more (sorry we couldn’t help ourselves)
Just imagine this, instead of simple On/Off, you can now use the same sensor you’ve got in the field to provide a deeper level of detail and predict or prevent problems and downtime! 🤯
As industry continues to evolve IO Link will play a pivotal role in helping industrial manufacturers make better in the moment decisions which will improve productivity and increase reliability.
IO-Link standards are referenced via IEC 61131-9*.
*There is also a IO-Link Safety (IEC- 61139-2) and IO-Link Wireless (IEC 61139-3) which are outside of the scope of this blog