Get Rid of Remote I/O Cabinets Once and For All


Every time I travel, customers tell me, “we just wire everything into a box.”  Every equipment designer goes through a phase of their design process where they need to decide how their I/O gets from their sensors and their valves to their controller.  Some people use I/O cards on their PLC, or networks with IP20 solutions inside remote I/O cabinets.


Remote I/O cabinets are costing you money in three ways:


Initial Equipment Costs: You have to purchase a remote NEMA Box, bulkhead pass through connectors or gaskets, the remote I/O network connection as well as the required input and output cards for the application.

Installation Time: The box needs to be mechanically mounted in it’s big bulky space and installed with all of the wires and connectors run to it.  An electrician then needs to come in and wire everything to the I/O ports.  If you are using PNP or NPN sensors, there are 3 terminations per sensor that the electrician needs to connect.

Setup Time: If for some reason the machine needs to be torn down and shipped someplace else (which many machines do), many hours can be spent disconnecting the I/O only to be reassembled in the final destination.

These costs in time and money can be reduced by looking at industrial network I/O mounted right on the machine.  IP67 I/O gives quick industrial connection for the network communication and power cables.  Most of the sensor and actuator cables can stay with the block because the I/O block is mounted right on the machine next to where the I/O is needed.

So the next time you are working on designing cost out of your machine, look at the labor and money you are putting into your remote I/O boxes and consider machine mount I/O.

Will Healy III is enthusiastic about smart manufacturing & workforce development. A Purdue University mechanical engineer, Will loves to share his passion for automation as a leader with Balluff Worldwide & Cincinnati's Advanced Manufacturing Industry Partnership. He speaks from experience about creating value through workforce, IIoT, sensors & automation solutions.

7 Replies to “Get Rid of Remote I/O Cabinets Once and For All”

  1. Warren Westbury says:

    In a wash-down area, I would still mount the IO Blocks in a panel to protect them from High-Pressure wash down. They are not IP69K rated.

    1. Will Healy III says:

      Great point Warren! I would agree there are applications where IP67 machine mount I/O is not sufficient to the environment like washdown or even hazardous areas. However, there are recently available IP69K rated machine mount I/O products that could be used without a cabinet in washdown applications.

  2. mount an io block on the outside of a support leg like that and you will regret it later when someone smashes off the connectors. Looks very vulnerable to accidental damage.

    1. Will Healy III says:

      Yes, I agree that big straight connectors out in the open could be vulnerable to damage, every application should be analyzed for the best way/location for block installation. There are ways to mitigate these issue like 90degree/angle connectors and we have a few customers install a shelf or plate above the block to protect from accidental falling parts or people stepping on the block & connectors.

  3. Will Healy III says:

    From one of my readers:

    Here’s some more hidden costs:
    1.Air Conditioning costs of operating, and costs of equipment or increased capacity.
    2. Plant floor space (easier to mount small IO blocks on conveyors or in small gaps then it is to mount enclosures. (Ergonomic Height, issues, clearance for hinged doors etc.)

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