Valve manifolds, or islands or banks, are used by many automation engineers in their machine design. They are a great way to easily implement a large number of pneumatic motion applications while keeping the air infrastructure minimal. Recent demand in the market has driven manifold manufacturers to reluctantly embed network interfaces and remote I/O into their products. Customers tell me while manufacturer’s expertise may lie with the pneumatic side of the product; there is usually less knowledge with-in their organizations to work on the Ethernet side of the product.
The Old Way
Simple, hardwired 25pin D-sub connectors are a standard configuration in many pneumatic valve manifolds and they are extremely cost competitive. Expensive network chipsets or auxiliary control components are not involved in these devices. They work efficiently and effectively as pneumatic motion control and they are the lowest-cost style of valve manifold.
But how do you get the quality pneumatic control from your favorite valve manufacturer while still getting the best control I/O of a network device?
The Better Way
An established technology called distributed modular I/O allows the controls engineer to easily integrate multiple types of control I/O into one simple device and communicate over industrial Ethernet networks. Working in a master/slave relationship, and utilizing the open communication standard IO-Link; the master can talk to many different types of devices.
Valve Manifold Control Example
As an example of this, every pneumatic action requires valve control. The typical parallel wiring of valve manifolds can be labor intensive and can add dramatically to cabinet space and setup time. With a single industrial connector and a lot less electrical labor, the entire valve manifold can be wired to the industrial Ethernet master device. In addition, discrete I/O, analog I/O or other valve manifolds can be attached to that same master, which in turn passes all of the control data over one IP address on the network.
For a more detailed description of how distributed modular I/O works and how it can be implemented to reduce the costs of your machine design, download my whitepaper: 5 Reasons to Switch to Distributed Modular I/O.