Defining Your Next Network Architecture: Cost Effectiveness

In my previous blog entry, Defining Your Next Network Architecture: Topologies and Global Standards, I addressed two topics to consider when moving from the “bus” to the “net”.  Here is the next topic I feel you should consider.

Cost Effectiveness – how can we lower the cost and not lose functionality?

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Defining Your Next Network Architecture: Topologies and Global Standard

As many machine builders, OEMs, individual plants, and large corporations decide to move from the “bus” to the “net” (Profibus or DeviceNet to Profinet or EtherNet/IP) they have a chance to look at all the new architectures available and decide on which is the best for them.  Here are the first two topics to take into consideration:

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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:

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IO-Link Scalability Animation Video


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How can I use IO-Link in my application?  How is IO-Link scalable?  If these are questions you still have, watch this animation describing the scalability of IO-Link.  To learn more about Balluff’s IO-Link offering, click here

Defining IP Ratings and NEMA Ratings

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As I was preparing to write my blog entry, I was browsing my e-mail and came across an article in the October Issue of TIA Newsletter (Totally Integrated Automation) from Automation World, concerning IP Ratings.  I found the article , very informative as it broke down the different degrees of IP ratings, as well as some similarity and differences between IP ratings and NEMA ratings.  I only wish there was some information involving IP69K. 

This article, IP Ratings – What are they and what do they mean,  is a great starting point to learn about IP Ratings, I suggest you stop by and read it. 

For more information about IP67, check out The Secret of IP67 Protection.

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

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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

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One M12 Port = Endless Possibilities

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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.

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That 1 Channel of Analog!

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In most industrial applications 80-90% of the I/O going back to the PLC is discrete points.  Multiple times I have been asked, “How can I easily, quickly, and cost effectively get one channel of analog back to my PLC”.  The solutions in the past have either involved an IP20 slice I/O solution in a J-box, which is expensive and labor intensive, or an IP67 network module, which reduces labor costs but still carries a high cost.  A common drawback to these solutions is that you have to pay for 2, 4, or even 8 channels when only one is required.

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