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.

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