Those in the automation industry looking to critically examine sequences and to design processes for greater efficiency while also saving time and reducing costs cannot ignore IO-Link. IO-Link is a point-to-point connection for linking any networks, fieldbuses or backplane buses. It is internationally certified in accordance with IEC 61131-9 and operates across manufacturers. The digital I/O interface connects sensors and actuators at the process level to an automation system using standard three or four-wire cables and connectors by means of an IO-Link master. There is no need for any special cables or add-on cards. IO-Link provides true added value over the entire service life of a system. Installation and start-up are simpler and faster wherever using plug connectors replaces full wiring. IO-Link allows the creation of flexible, affordable, space-saving systems that are available to the customer faster than ever before. The advantages of IO-Link are even more evident when it comes to parameter configuration and diagnostics. For the first time, system operators have an affordable standard that enables an unobstructed view and access to the process level.
Field devices with an IO-Link interface, such as the new fork light barrier series from di-soric, come with digital intelligence on board. This allows them to easily exchange position, process, status and device information easily in a digital format. The user has the choice of utilizing the fork light barriers equipped with superior performance features as usual or performing optimization using the sensor modes configurable through IO-Link. The High Resolution sensor mode enables detection of ultra-small parts with a diameter down to 0.2 mm (see Image 1: An extremely thin hollow needle is reliably detected by a di-soric fork sensor). In real-world use, di-soric fork sensors with LED light source achieve virtually the same resolution level as laser light barriers.
The Speed sensor mode increases the switching frequency of the fork light barrier by 25% to an outstanding 8,000 Hz. This mode is the prime option for high-speed labeling. The fork light barrier detects the container edge with absolute precision, even if it passes by at a high speed, and ensures maximum labeling accuracy.
While different performance levels required keeping several specialized fork sensors on hand in the past, today one universal fork light barrier is sufficient. This saves time, space and money.
The new ultrasonic label sensor from di-soric determines the edge of paper, metal and transparent labeling materials with pin-point precision. In addition to simple button-based operation, the label sensor has two independent outputs. These enable parallel operation of the switching output controlling the labeler alongside IO-Link communication. Thanks to IO-Link, end-to-end diagnostics of process stability are possible during ongoing operation as a result. If a measurement or threshold value deviates from the defined value or if a sensor can no longer perform its task reliably due to contamination, the device promptly alerts the control system level automatically before a failure or loss of quality results.
Directly addressable IO-Link devices make it possible to put efficient parameter configuration concepts into practice with ease. While batch changes used to be associated with painstaking adjustment and changeover procedures, today an operator can load parameter configuration recipes into the sensors, including recipes stored at a central location and consisting of function blocks.
The new Multi I/O ultrasonic sensors from di-soric also provide several useful benefits. The connection to an IO-Link master transforms a typical ultrasonic sensor into a smart device that can cover a full range of functions (analog, switching output and teach-in input) with a 4-pin cable instead of a 5-pin cable.
For visualizing a wide variety of system states, IO-Link makes parameter configuration and handling faster and easier. The brand-new multi-color status lights from di-soric are digital lighting displays that can be used right out of the box with their factory settings and standard process-relevant red, yellow and green guide colors. IO-Link parameter configuration lets the user easily implement a virtually limitless range of color and signal needs.
Whether during production operations, while performing on-site service or remotely, personnel have a complete overview of the process. The cause and location of faults can usually be detected in moments. IO-Link is on the rise: Everything points to this versatile point-to-point connection emerging as the foundational technology and enabler for establishing digital factories.