IO-Link Communicating from point to point

Oct 23, 2015 12:00:00 AM 

Machines that automatically communicate with one another, self-adapting and self - optimizing processes, completely connected production - this is the vision of the future.

The role of IO  -  Link in achieving this vision in machine construction and automation is growing in importance, and for good reason. IO  -  Link is simple and cost-effective.

The IO  -  Link standard is also described as the USB of machine construction, and upon further inspection, there are numerous parallels between IO  -  Link and USB. Both are specified as peer-to-peer connections and bidirectional communication, both interfaces are serial and independent of manufacturer, and both signals and power can be transferred via USB and IO  -  Link. This means that the central advantage of IO  -  Linkis its communicative abilities; sensors and actuators alike can send and receive information via IO  -  Link. Bidirectional communication emerges from the previous setup of transmitting data to the next higher level. This enables access to parameters and data that have previously remained inaccessible to the control systems or could only be read out using proprietary systems or directly at the sensor. For a growing number of users, IO  -  Link is the path to a transparent connection between the control system and sensor. As a fieldbus-independent communication standard, IO  -  Link offers countless advantages, primarily those related to reduced machine costs, more efficient production processes and improved availability of machines and systems - another big step towards completely connected production.

Though most of the areas of application are intended for intelligent sensors and actuators, there were and still are products in the immediate and wider context, such as control panels for processing machines, that are based on IO-Link.

The Zimmer Group relies on IO  -  Link for integrating intelligent components into an automation system for the following reasons: Installation with just one standardized plug reduces installation time and cost considerably. This simple wiring allows for a quick and cost-efficient assembly wherein almost all errors have been eliminated from the installation process.

The resulting quick and accurate commissioning reduces downtimes, increases machine availability and lowers costs.

The emphasis on the actual device functions ensures easy usability almost inherently. Of course, this may also mean that the gripping force level of an intelligent gripper or the definition of the teach-in window can be easily configured on the device, or that configuration can be carried out through a device independent of the control level and operating unit in the future. Since these parameters can be changed at any time by the PLC, IO  -  Link makes it possible to adapt the component based on the results from a downstream measurement or even to adjust the gripper to a different product version through IO  -  Link - this makes operation of the component more flexible and user-friendly.

The ability of the components to be replaced during ongoing operation ensures the highest machine availability and shortest setup times. Expanded diagnostic capabilities provide Zimmer IO  -  Link components with a level of process reliability that could previously only be achieved at high cost. For the first time, qualitative system and process diagnostics from the sensor/actuator level all the way to the control level make requested predictive maintenance a reality because of its new affordability and market compatibility.

At Motek, the Zimmer Group introduced 11 new IO  -  Link devices from the area of handling technology and demonstrated their smart properties and flexibility in a wide variety of applications, proving that Zimmer Group is still "The Know-How Factory".