CIP Safety is a communication protocol used in industrial automation to ensure the safety of machinery, equipment, and processes. It is a part of the larger family of protocols known as the Common Industrial Protocol (CIP) developed by ODVA, a global trade and standard development organization.
The primary goal of CIP Safety is to enable the safe exchange of data between safety devices, controllers, and other components within an industrial automation system. This protocol allows for real-time communication of safety-related information, such as emergency stops, safety interlocks, and safety status, between various devices in a manufacturing or processing environment.
Key features and concepts of CIP Safety
Safety communication: CIP Safety is designed to provide fast and reliable communication for safety-critical information. It ensures that safety messages are transmitted and received without delays, ensuring that safety actions are executed promptly.
Deterministic behavior: Determinism is a crucial aspect of safety systems, as it ensures that safety messages are transmitted predictably and with low latency. This helps in reducing the risk of accidents and ensuring the proper functioning of safety mechanisms.
Redundancy and fault tolerance: CIP Safety supports redundancy and fault tolerance, allowing for the implementation of systems that can continue operating safely even in the presence of hardware or communication failures.
Safe states and actions: The protocol defines various safe states that a system can enter in response to safety-related events. It also specifies safe actions that controllers and devices can take to prevent or mitigate hazards.
Device integration: CIP Safety can be integrated with other CIP protocols, such as EtherNet/IP, enabling seamless integration of safety and standard communication on the same network.
Certification: Devices and systems that implement CIP Safety are often required to undergo certification processes to ensure their compliance with safety standards and their ability to perform in critical environments.
Flexibility: CIP Safety is designed to accommodate various levels of safety requirements, from simple safety tasks to more complex and sophisticated safety functions. This flexibility makes it suitable for a wide range of industrial applications.
CIP Safety has been widely adopted in industries such as manufacturing, automotive, energy, and more, where ensuring the safety of personnel, equipment, and processes is of paramount importance. It allows for the integration of safety systems into the overall control architecture, leading to more efficient and streamlined safety management within industrial environments.
IO-Link technologies have been a game-changer for the welding industry. With the advent of automation, the demand for increasingly sophisticated and intelligent technologies has increased. IO-Link technologies have risen to meet this demand. Here I explain the concepts and benefits of I-O Link technologies and how they integrate into automated welding applications.
What are IO-Link technologies?
IO-Link technologies refer to an advanced communication protocol used in industrial automation. The technology allows data transfer, i.e., the status of sensors, actuators, and other devices through a one-point connection between the control system and individual devices. Also, it enables devices to communicate among themselves quickly and efficiently. IO-Link technologies provide real-time communication, enabling continuous monitoring of devices to ensure optimal performance.
Benefits of IO-Link technologies
Enhanced data communication: IO-Link technologies can transfer data between the control system and sensors or devices. This communication creates an open and transparent network of information, reflecting the real-time status of equipment and allowing for increased reliability and reduced downtime.
Cost-efficiency: IO-Link technologies do not require complicated wiring and can significantly reduce material costs compared to traditional hardwired solutions. Additionally, maintenance is easier and more efficient with communication between devices, and there is less need for multiple maintenance employees to manage equipment.
Flexibility: With IO-Link technologies, the control system can control and monitor devices even when not attached to specific operator workstations. It enables one control system to manage thousands of devices without needing to rewrite programming to accommodate different machine types.
Real-time monitoring: IO-Link technologies provide real-time monitoring of devices, allowing control systems to monitor failures before they occur, making it easier for maintenance teams to manage the shop floor.
How are IO-Link technologies used in automated welding applications?
Automated welding applications have increased efficiencies and continuity in processes, and IO-Link technologies have accelerated these processes further. Automated welding applications have different stages, and each step requires real-time monitoring to ensure the process is efficient and effective. IO-Link technologies have been integrated into various parts of the automated welding process, some of which include:
Positioning and alignment: The welding process starts with positioning and aligning materials such as beams, plates, and pipes. IO-Link sensors can detect the height and gap position of the material before the welding process begins. The sensor sends positional data to the control system as a feedback loop, which then adjusts the positioning system using actuators to ensure optimal weld quality.
Welding arc monitoring: The welding arc monitoring system is another critical application for IO-Link technologies. Monitoring the arc ensures optimal weld quality and runs with reduced interruptions. IO-Link temperature sensors attached to the welding tip help control and adjust the temperature required to melt and flow the metal, ensuring that the welding arc works optimally.
Power supply calibration: IO-Link technologies are essential in calibrating the power output of welding supplies, ensuring consistent quality in the welding process. Detectors attached to the power supply record the energy usage, power output and voltage levels, allowing the control system to adjust as necessary.
Real-time monitoring and alerting: Real-time monitoring and alerting capabilities provided by IO-Link technologies help to reduce downtime where machine health is at risk. The sensors monitor the welding process, determining if there are any deviations from the set parameters. They then communicate the process condition to the control system, dispatching alerts to maintenance teams if an issue arises.
Using IO-Link technologies in automated welding applications has revolutionized the welding industry, providing real-time communication, enhanced data transfer, flexibility, and real-time monitoring capabilities required for reliable processes. IO-Link technologies have been integrated at various stages of automated welding, including positioning and alignment, welding arc monitoring, power supply calibration, and real-time monitoring and alerting. There is no doubt that the future of automated welding is bright. With IO-Link technologies, the possibilities are endless, forging ahead to provide more intelligent, efficient, and reliable welding applications.
In my previous blog post from early summer, I talked about IO-Link sensors with condition monitoring features that work with PLCs. I covered how condition monitoring variables can be set up as alarms and how simple logic can be set up inside the sensor so it only sets off those alarms to the PLC in real time to alert operators when something is wrong. Many companies, however, take advantage of the IoT sensor data with the long-term goal of analyzing the environmental data conditions to predict maintenance needs in real-time versus relying on a schedule. Some even want to connect directly to their MES systems to inform maintenance personnel of daily maintenance orders, which requires a separate device, such as an IoT edge gateway.
Edge gateway benefits
The biggest benefit of an IoT edge gateway is the ability to process and store large amounts of data quickly, enabling real-time applications to use that data efficiently.
An IoT edge gateway typically sits at the end or edge of your network and gathers all the sensor data either directly from the sensors or from the PLC. Since there will be a large amount of data from all the sensors on the network, part of the edge gateway setup is to filter the relevant and important information and process this vast amount of data. The edge gateway must also handle the amount of data required reliably, and it must have low latency. These important factors are often associated with the gateway’s CPU and memory specifications.
After looking at the performance of the edge gateway, comes the ‘gateway’ aspect which provides a translation to different communications networks, whether local or cloud-based. There are the hardware specs of the gateway, whether it’s using serial, USB or Ethernet for that connection, as well as the environmental ratings on the gateway. Then, more importantly, is the software side of the edge gateway. There are cloud-based communications standards designed for different applications and for either private or public cloud networks.
Edge gateways support different communications protocols, such as HTTPS, MQTT, RESTful API, C/Python API. The gateway portion also helps in the conversion of those protocols and the ease of interoperability to different platforms, such as AWS, Azure, Ignition, and Wonderware. This provides data transparency so that all the data gathered can be used across the many different software platforms.
To get to the IoT end goal, an edge gateway is necessary and it’s important to choose the correct one.