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.
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.