IO-Link: Industry 4.0 for everyone
IO-Link is not just gaining increasing acceptance in an ever greater number of applications – the manufacturer-independent communication technology is also an enabler for innovative sensor solutions and supports the global availability of data and information required by Industry 4.0. Switching devices and simple sensors, in particular, can benefit from this fast and cost-effective method of connecting to the data world.
The advantages of IO-Link are readily apparent. Because devices can be integrated via the existing cabling, IO-Link enables Industry 4.0 solutions to be expanded down to even the smallest inductive sensors. What complex sensor systems can accomplish via a fieldbus connection can now also be delivered by simple sensor technology: state and parameterization data throughout the entire plant or factory. IO-Link not only establishes a reliable communication channel, it also allows IO-Link-enabled sensors to be integrated into any existing network.
Flexibility, transparency, and reduced costs
Process data, parameter settings, and detailed diagnostic data via the existing connection: Sensors with an IO-Link interface can supply a wealth of information – in real time. They are also capable, for example, of receiving new parameter sets within seconds – for flexible production right down to a batch size of 1. IOLink offers continuous digital data transmission, thus superseding the classical method of analog value transmission. It also has significant advantages with regard to electromagnetic compatibility as it also allows standard non-shielded cables to be used, thereby reducing cabling costs.
IO-Link also makes plug and play a reality: The different parameter settings can be visualized, tested, and, if necessary, optimized during integration and commissioning. Furthermore, it is possible to store different parameter sets in the automation system and upload them to the sensor during operation without any delay. This makes it possible to automatically and remotely configure sensors installed in locations that are difficult to access. Machines and plants with frequent changeovers between product variants can particularly benefit from this functionality, which enables changeovers to be performed quickly and with a high level of process reliability. Replacing devices also becomes easier: If a sensor is defective, the most recently used parameter set can be automatically transmitted to the replacement sensor via IO-Link.
Perfectly networked – a solution portfolio for seamlessly integrating sensors using IO-Link
IO-Link-Master: The IO-Link master devices from SICK connect intelligent sensors and actuators to the control level. The masters for PROFINET IO/RT, Ether- CAT® and EtherNet/IP™ are equipped with eight multifunctional IO-Link ports.
Sensor cloning: All relevant parameters can be stored on a SICK Memory Stick for easy replacement of devices.
Visualization via SOPAS: The SiLink2 Master connects IO-Link sensors to a PC, which enables the visualization and parameterization functions of SOPAS and SOPASair to be used.
Seamless integration: SICK also offers suitable function blocks for integrating its IO-Link sensors into almost any automation network
Senior Vice President Industry 4.0
Bernhard Müller has been on the Management Board of SICK AG since 2009 and responsible for the topic Industry 4.0 since 2015. He was involved in the qualification of data transmission in the worldwide networks of telecommunications providers for more than 25 years.