That 1 Channel of Analog!


In most industrial applications 80-90% of the I/O going back to the PLC is discrete points.  Multiple times I have been asked, “How can I easily, quickly, and cost effectively get one channel of analog back to my PLC”.  The solutions in the past have either involved an IP20 slice I/O solution in a J-box, which is expensive and labor intensive, or an IP67 network module, which reduces labor costs but still carries a high cost.  A common drawback to these solutions is that you have to pay for 2, 4, or even 8 channels when only one is required.

IO-Link – One solution is IO-Link, an open communication protocol, which allows higher end products to cost effectively and quickly pass their data and parameters through a standard 3-conductor cordset.  As IO-Link grows in acceptance, more and more vendors are producing IO-Link Proxy’s/Gateways that allow the IO-Link data to be passed along a network protocol, like; Profibus, ProfiNet, and EtherNet/IP.  By building a buffer of unused IO-Link ports/connections into your application, you allow yourself the ability to add an analog sensor that converts the analog signal to digital within itself or a simple IO-Link analog converter that takes any standard analog signal and converts it to digital.

One M12 IO-Link port can equal one or multiple analog channels

So by adding IO-Link to your application and allowing a buffer of IO-Link connections, the answer to what do I do about “that 1 channel of analog” is simple, cost effective, and fast to implement.

To learn more about IO-Link, click here or visit

John Harmon has experience and knowledge of the industrial automation industry with Balluff. With his product and industry knowledge, he is sharing his passion for automation with Automation Insights.

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