One M12 Port = Endless Possibilities


Paradigm shifts in automation are always occurring. The need for cost savings and higher diagnostics caused the shift from IP20 I/O to IP67 I/O.  Now, we are in the midst of a shift to reduce or eliminate enclosures in industrial applications by removing control and power from the cabinet.  With the reduction of IP20 I/O and enclosures, adding more I/O (discrete and analog) or specialty devices (RF identification, measurement devices, etc…) is now more difficult.  In the past it was relatively easy, but expensive, to add another “slice” of I/O to an existing IP20 solution.

In today’s applications, most OEMs are asked to build in a buffer of at least 20% additional discrete I/O points for possible changes or additions to the machine.  This means installing I/O modules with either no I/O attached, or having multiple modules with 2 to 4 unused ports.  This helps when changes occur in terms of discrete I/O, but gives no solution for analog channels, RF identification, measurement devices, etc.  It’s with these no discrete devices; I feel the next paradigm shift will occur.

One IO-Link M12 port can accept many varieties of industrial sensing technologies

I foresee a merger between a new technology and the standard buffering of unused ports on network modules in an application.  Of course, these unused ports can not be standard ports; they will need to have some intelligence to them.  IO-Link can provide the means to make this happen.  Through IO-Link enabled M12 ports, an I/O module attached to a standard industrial network, such as Profibus, ProfiNet, EtherNet/IP, CC-Link, AS-I, etc., you can attach more discrete I/O, analog channels, RF identification, measurement devices to a network without adding more network cordsets, enclosures, or expensive network specialty modules.  IO-Link allows point-to-point communication between an IO-Link enabled device and an IO-Link Master, which serves as a proxy between IO-Link and a standard industrial network.  The open communication protocol allows a multitude of devices to be wired to a M12 IO-Link port.  In short, one M12 port = endless possibilities, with the aid of IO-Link.

For more information on IO-Link, click here.

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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