I recently watched a short webinar recorded by the PI North America organization and it really helped me understand the basics of how ethernet communication comes together. There are so many protocols and standards and they all communicate on the same media. Carl and Hunter do a good job presenting ethernet in a technical but easy to understand way.
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:
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
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.
Let’s face it; an installed base, a trained maintenance crew, and an established set of procedures all make it really difficult to try to implement any new technologies in a running manufacturing facility. The idea of an industrial network providing detailed data about your processes and improving productivity sounds interesting and valuable, but where do you begin? Retrofitting everything with the newest technology isn’t an option in today’s economy, the capital investment is just too great. But there is hope! And with small steps, time and training, any plant can move forward into the ethernet realm and beyond.
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.
Regularly I attended free one day seminars on Profibus & Profinet put on by the PI Organization. They have two different classes that they offer in cities all over the US and Canada. There are usually about 50-100 attendees and it is a great opportunity to network with local engineers from and around the area in a wide variety of industries.
In the seminars they cover these topics in general:
The history and breadth of the PI Organization
Different ways to build I/O architectures and how to integrate them
Why networks are important and how to select a network
And they cover in detail (using vendor products and Siemens PLCs):
How to design a network
Configuration of a network using the PLC
Installation considerations, cabling & hardware
Commissioning a system
Long term maintenance and troubleshooting
Plantwide Energy Conservation
During breaks, multiple vendors of Profibus & ProfiNet related products were available to discuss applications and projects with the attendees and provide valuable resources for industrial network design.
We (Balluff) are a sponsoring member of the seminars and I was attending to discuss IO-Link, Profinet and Profibus industrial network applications with potential and current customers.
If you are unfamiliar with Profibus, ProfiNet or IO-Link I recommend you attend one of these seminars to learn about how it can help your machine design.
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.