IP67 Network I/O Islands: Why? Are there other options?


Typical IP67 network topologies involve stand-alone I/O modules, providing 8 to 16 points of I/O per module.  In some applications multiple stand-alone modules could be mounted within inches of each other.  Thus was introduced the IP67 Network I/O Island, a modular IP67 I/O solution that allowed 8 to 60 plus I/O points to be connected to only one network node.  This solution provided initial costs savings by reducing the number of network nodes used in an application, but brought along some new problems.  One problem involved exceeding long sensor /actuator cordsets, with a centralized I/O solution remote sensors needed cordsets of 5, 10, or even 15 plus meters in length.  The second issue was cordset management; imagine tracing a suspect cordset to the network I/O island with 60 plus connectors hanging off of the front of the unit.

IP67 Network I/O Island
IP67 Network I/O Island

Is there another option?  What can provide one network node with 60 plus I/O points, but also allows the customer to take the I/O components closer the concentration of sensors and actuators to shorten cordset lengths?  The solution is an expandable IP67 network solutions utilizing IO-Link technology.  What components are involved in such a solution?  First, there is the network proxy, this device provides the interface/gateway between the network and the IO-Link enabled devices.  Connecting to the proxies are up to 4 IO-Link enabled I/O modules, each module providing 8 to 16 points of I/O.  Each IO-Link enabled I/O modules can be located near the customer’s concentration of I/O minimizing the lengths of the sensor/actuator cordsets.  Bridging the gap between the network proxy and IO-Link enabled devices is a simple standard 3-4 conductor sensor/actuator cable of up to 20 meters in length, providing both signal and power.

Expandable I/O Solution utilizing IO-Link

By limiting the number network nodes, minimizing cordsets lengths, and providing an overall lower cost on components; proxy and IO-Link devices, using an open vendor IO-Link technology for expandable I/O can signifantly reduce cost and give better flexibility to modular network solutions.

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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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