Where does IO-Link go in 2011?

As I sit and ponder what 2011 will look like, only one thought comes to mind, the endless possibilities of IO-Link.

I have written many entries on IO-Link and as I see it there are much more to come.  Why more IO-Link?  The answer is simple; we have just scratched the surface of the potential of what an IO-Link system can offer an end-customer or OEM.  Let’s talk about a few upcoming milestones in 2011 to look forward to:

More Network Options:  A majority of you who have followed IO-Link are already aware of the IO-Link Masters, also known as IO-Link Proxies, being available for Profibus and Profinet.  In 2011 the explosion of IO-Link will be through the expansion of other network protocols, such as EtherNet/IP, CC-Link and more.  This will definitely allow OEMs to build automation equipment, using the same IO-Link devices the OEM merely has to change the Master/Proxy to fit the PLC and/or network that the end-user requests.

More IO-Link Devices:  With the expansion of different network Masters/Proxies, I foresee automation product vendors expanding their existing or starting new lines of IO-Link products.  There are many standard and specialty devices that are needed to be converted from a direct network interfaced device to an IO-Link device, thus there is a large window for vendors to build products.

Broader Acceptance in the World of Automation:  As network and devices expand in IO-Link, more automation users will investigate IO-Link.  With IO-Link being well-known in Europe and with the early adopters in the US, it will take little time for the benefits of IO-Link to reach the masses.  The PI organization, in the US formerly known as the PTO (Profibus Trade Organization), recognizes IO-Link as an upcoming technology.  The PI even allocates time during their free one day Profinet trainings to discuss IO-Link, held throughout the US and Canada.  I foresee that the ODVA organization will recognize IO-Link as a complementary technology to EtherNet/IP and/or DeviceNet.

2011 looks to be shaping up to be the year of I/O expansion.  I foresee IO-Link being on the forefront of network expansion technology.

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.

Leave a Reply