Three Things to Know About IO-Link

IO-Link has become synonymous with the term “distributed modular I/O”. We know it is universal, smart, and easy, but what exactly is IO-Link? In a nutshell, by utilizing a standard sensor cable, the IO-Link slave device speaks point to point with an IO-Link master. The IO-Link master then combines the data with other IO-Link slave devices and communicates over an industrial network or backplane to the controller. In other words, it can be compared to a simple USB connection: for the most part, any USB device will work in any USB port, as long as the manufacturers of both devices have played by the rules when making the devices.

With that being said, here are three things to know about IO-Link:

  • Cable Length Cable Type and Length

Cable runs between master and slave can be up to 20 meters in length and typically utilize standard automation cables. Most cables, but not all, are M12 A-coded, unshielded, 3 or 4-conductor DC sensor cables.

  • Star ArchitectureStar Architecture

Since IO-Link utilizes a point-to-point serial communication, Star Topology is the only device architecture that can be constructed.

  • IO-Link PortsPort Class A vs Port Class B Devices

While most devices utilize IO-Link port Class A, output devices like valves are now being offered as IO-Link port Class B. Be sure to know if the master and/or slaves are Class A or Class B type ports. Most Balluff devices are IO-Link port Class A.

To learn more visit balluff.us/iolink

Distributed Modular I/O Demo on Demand!

Everyone likes things on demand right?  Movies, TV shows, chocolate, you name it.  My good friend, John Harmon, has prepared a YouTube video so that you have at your fingertips an on-demand presentation on Distributed Modular I/O.  It is a great overview of the available functionality of Distributed Modular I/O and what kinds of control products that are available utilizing this technology.  I realize the video is seven and a half minutes, which is pretty long for a web video, but I think he does an excellent job of keeping your attention and demonstrating the value of this technology.  Grab a soda and your favorite chocolate bar, put your phone on silent, and hit play on this excellent presentation.

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Valve Manifolds on Ethernet for Cheap!

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.

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Industrial Network Basics: Simplifying I/O Terminology

There are many terms used for I/O technology in industrial automation: Remote I/O, Distributed I/O,  Modular I/O, Expandable I/O, Block I/O, Conventional I/O and the list can go on.  What do they all mean?  Can they be used interchangeably?  What is the difference?

Lets be honest… this is a muddled topic and many people use different things interchangeably.  I’ve done a bit of research and reading of automation magazines, forums and websites and have tried to piece it together.

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3 Steps to Evolve to Ethernet Networked I/O

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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.

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