How IO-Link Technology Will Get Your Business Ready for Industry 4.0 and IIOT

Is your company ready for the future of I/O communications and Industry 4.0 and IIOT? If not the RG Group with the power of IO-Link can help!

Do you want to get your IO devices onto your industrial network, but aren’t sure how to do it cost effectively? Do you spend too much on labor costs and are looking for ways to build your machines faster and more efficiently? Are you using expensive proprietary equipment? Are your customers asking you for RFID on your equipment? Would you like to simply add valve manifolds to your network without the high cost of valve drivers? Are analog cards getting too expensive and complicated to wire? Well IO-Link could be your answer to all of these.

What is IO Link? IO-Link is the world’s first standardized open protocol (IEC 61131-9) for the communication with sensors and actuators, but it does so much more. Every IO-Link device has a chip imbedded into it that allows the device to communicate over the IO-Link open network. IO-Link currently has over 150 members manufacturing a myriad of I/O devices that all work on the I/O-Link network. Some of the devices are IO-Link master and slave blocks, sensors, linear transducers, RFID, pressure transducers, temperature transducers, valve manifolds and the list goes on and on. IO-Link master I/O blocks take your communication protocol (Profibus, Profinet, CC-Link, DeviceNet, Ethernet/IP or Ethercat) and converts it to the open communication language of IO-Link. From there, any discrete or analog device with the IO-Link chip imbedded in it communicates over the network. Think of it as USB for your industrial network. Here’s an example: I have a Dell computer and I have an HP printer. There’s no way they can talk to each other, right? They are completely different manufacturers. Wrong! There’s that little common connector and communication called USB. We’ve all heard of USB and we so readily accept that any device can communicate to another device over USB that we don’t even give it another thought. Think of IO-Link like that. Once you connect your IO-Link master block to your PLC via your communication protocol (Ethernet I/P for example), you only need to connect to other IO-Link devices and you’re up and running.

You can even use non-IO-Link discrete IO devices, but who would want to? IO-Link enabled devices, by the large part have no cost adder over their non-IO-Link counterparts. With IO-Link every device has built in diagnostics and if you ever need to replace a programmable analog IO-Link device, it automatically downloads the parameters to the device without you having to touch a thing! Here’s another bonus! It does it all with standard, cost effective, non-shielded sensor cables. That’s right! You can even carry analog signals up to 20 meters without fear of electrical interference on standard off the shelf non-shielded sensor cable.

What you need to know about IO-Link (Video)

Are your customers asking you to provide RFID on your equipment? One of the simplest and most cost effective ways to add RFID onto your industrial network is by using IO-Link. All you need is an IO-Link master and IO-Link reader and your RFID information is quickly and cost-effectively added to your system.

When it comes to saving installation or set-up time, IO Link is the way to go, especially when it comes to valve manifolds. One “standard” for valve manifolds is the dreaded 25pin d-sub connector. It sounds quick and easy to add them to your network, but someone needs to stand there and take all of those 25 wires and individually wire them back to your cabinet. Then, heaven forbid, if you need to diagnose a problem in the wiring, that’s going to take even more time. Then you have fieldbus communications with valve manifolds. They sound like a good idea too until you look at the costs. Valve drivers for valve manifolds are not only very costly themselves, but also require you to use an expensive cable to wire them back to your PLC. This takes up room and nodes on your PLC every time you add a manifold. With IO-Link, you run one standard non-shielded sensor cable from you IO-Link master block to the valve manifold and you’re done. Every components attached to an IO-Link master is all on the same node, which simplifies your architecture. Also, don’t forget about that added bonus of built in diagnostics that comes along with your IO-Link communications.

The RG Group is uniquely positioned to help you with your IO-Link applications because we represent some of the best names in IO-Link technology. We are a distributor for Balluff, Parker and Wika. So not only can we help you with your IO-Link master and slave blocks, but also sensors, RFID, linear transducers, pressure and temperature transducers, valve manifolds, and the list goes on. Please get in contact with us today and let us show you how IO-Link can get you and your business ready for Industry 4.0 and IIOT.

Pete Wehler
Key Account Manager/Automation Business Unit Manager
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[email protected]

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