In the world of Industry 4.0, where connectivity and big data are key to effective OEE, a set-up where each process is monitored and the sensors allow for two-way automated communication is vital. In this article, PIF reviews IO-Link solutions and how they are used within automation applications in manufacturing to facilitate a responsive processing plant that allows for both flexibility and adjustments. We also take a look at just who is leading the processing world in this technology.
What are IO-Link solutions?
IO-Link solutions are an industrial communication network standard, known as IEC 61131-9. IO-Link provides a way of connecting sensors to a system or to an existing network, either through a direct-wired connection with a single cable from each sensor to an IO-Link master that interfaces with the main system, or via wireless connectivity. A dual-channel option allows a connection to two separate systems.
IO-Link solutions were developed specifically for the world of Industry 4.0, to be used with sensors or actuators to both transmit measurement information from the sensor to the system and to transmit control information back to actuators to control the process. In short, IO-Link solutions allow a manufacturer to collect live, detailed data sets and use them within automation applications in manufacturing to optimise operations or to switch a process in line with a changed demand.
How do IO dual-channel links assist with automation applications in manufacturing processes?
IO-Link solutions use dual-channel sensor integration with the control process, providing data that allows the system to effectively manage the manufacturing process. It also provides transmission of sensor or actuator diagnostic data and alarm signals to trigger fail-safes. IO-Link solutions potentially remove the need for an on-site presence for sensor or actuator configuration, control and maintenance – saving both labour costs and allowing a plant to run 24 hours a day with minimal intervention.
IO-Link solutions give flexibility by allowing a single centralised control over not only the standard operation of the sensors but also the configuration, calibration and maintenance of the equipment. IO links enable the switch of a production line from one medium to another and the re-configuring of all the sensors remotely from a single source. As an example, milk boils at 100.5 degrees centigrade and ethanol boils at 78 degrees centigrade; by configuring the sensors it is possible to have a boiling vessel work with either medium without risk of over-boiling or not reaching a high enough temperature.
The leader in IO-Link solutions
The IO-Link solutions on offer from Baumer are some of the most flexible and class-leading on the market. Their wireless IO-Link master and their in-house developed app, SensControl, allow for easy and reproducible configuration of IO-Link devices from any manufacturer. Their solution provides process and diagnostic data for both cyclic and non-cyclic options.
The benefits to Baumer customers are clear: optimisation of sensor parameters to allow for the needs of a specific application and any ambient requirements, providing enhanced OEE and flexibility in the set-up. The set-up and associated app provide a single tool to use with all IO-Link-capable devices manufactured by any brand. The feedback is easy to configure and is visually easy to interpret. Wireless communication options through WLAN or Bluetooth also allow for easy sensor set up without the need for cabling.
Another main benefit of Dual Channel IO-Link is the sheer flexibility in design and implementation of the control system. Many manufacturers and the like choose to invest in Dual Channel sensors as you are provided with more options. Dual-channel allows for analogue and digital interface capabilities in one sensor, therefore providing maximum flexibility. For example, a single pressure transmitter can report traditional analogue feedback to a control system via a 4…20mA or 0…10VDC signal on channel #1, and simultaneously in parallel transmit or receive IO-Link specific data on channel #2.
You can choose to use IO-Link; now, in parallel with more traditional outputs, later, as the system or application develops, or never – making this flexible sensor system the ideal solution for many.
Baumer are global leaders in sensors and solutions for automation applications in manufacturing and processing; it makes perfect sense that they are also ideally placed to develop and support the best in IO-Link solutions. For more information, contact the leaders in IO-Link solutions on 0793 783839 or [email protected].