With the demands for flexible manufacturing, efficient production & visibility in our factories, smart manufacturing is driving the way we work today. Analytics and diagnostics are becoming critical to our ability to perform predictive maintenance, improve equipment effectiveness and monitor the condition of the machine as well as the components inside the machine. Typically, our first reaction is to put these devices onto Ethernet. However, the implementation of Ethernet requires a high skill set that is scarce in our traditional manufacturers today. Due to the simple control architecture of IO-Link devices, it allows for many Smart devices to provide the data we need for analytics with a reduction in the Ethernet skill set that has become a roadblock for many manufacturers.
Many people think IO-Link is a new industrial network to compete with EtherNet/IP or Profinet, but this is a common misconception. IO-Link is complementary to those networks and typically enables those networks to do even more than previously thought.
IO-Link is an open standard designed with the idea to act like USB for industrial automation. IO-Link is meant to simplify the smart sensor & intelligent device connectivity on the factory floor in a similar way that USB simplified connectivity to computers for auxiliary devices. IO-Link is not an industrial network or fieldbus; it is an industrial network and industrial controller agnostic. Designed with a master to slave configuration, addressing of the devices is point-to-point, similar to USB. Compatible IO-Link masters can act as slaves or nodes on a variety of industrial protocols and act complementary to the network of the user’s choosing. Eliminating the need for serial communication configuration or network addressing simplifies the connection and integration of devices.
Value in Machine Builds
IO-Link has advantages for both machine builders and discrete manufacturers. For machine builders, the biggest advantage comes from the simplified wiring scheme of IO-Link devices. We have seen machine builder users of IO-Link reduce their wiring hardware & labor costs by 30%-60% for sensors,
outputs & controls. This is realized with the simple sensor tool cords used for connections, quick-disconnect connectors on the cables and machine mount Ethernet masters devices. It is also realized for machine builders in an increase of turns on their floor, a reduction in build labor and significantly faster commissioning time.
Value on the Production Floor
For discrete manufacturers, the biggest advantages have come from the parameterization and diagnostic features on the IO-Link devices. With the ability to store & send parameters between the master & slave, IO-Link devices can be automatically configured. Hot-swapping a complex smart device like a pressure sensor can go from a stressful ordeal including 14-plus setpoints to literally a push of one button. Combining this functionality with multiple diagnostics both in the master & slaves eliminates human error and dramatically reduces downtime & troubleshooting for manufacturers.
To learn more about market leading IO-Link technologies, visit www.balluff.com.
Will Healy III is the Industry Marketing Director at Balluff Inc. in Florence, Kentucky and he is enthusiastic about smart manufacturing, automation and STEM education. Will graduated from Purdue University with a degree in mechanical engineering and has been sharing his passion for automation for more than 10 years in a variety of industries. He is published and quoted in various trade magazines, works as an industrial adviser for multiple universities and has widely presented on the value sensors, networking and IIoT bring to manufacturing.