IO-Link, The “T” in IIoT

| Jim Bischoff

IO-Link

Is your home smarter than your smart factory?

Horizon Solutions strives to help our customers achieve their productivity and profitability goals by helping them embrace digital transformation. Last year, I created a blog that shared a blueprint for success for our customers that do not have huge capital budgets.

TLDR? Think Big – Start Small. As a follow-up, I outlined a success story for a customer that is currently on their journey following this blueprint.

I like to compare the investments customers make in modern, information-enabled technology for their manufacturing facilities to their personal investments in smart home technology. If you are anything like me, you have made some investments in the smart home space, and you likely take full advantage of this technology. For example, my voice assistant will turn off my TV and downstairs lights, turn on stair, bathroom, and bedroom lights, and set my thermostat for me just by me telling it I’m going to bed. My security cameras are disabled when I return home and are enabled when I leave. I could go on and on, but I do like to take advantage of the smart home investments that I have made.

Back on Topic – IO-Link

As we help our customers on their digital transformation journey, we see them make investments in more and more information-enabled products. One technology in which we see customers make investments but often not fully utilize is IO-Link. IO-Link is a worldwide open standard protocol (IEC 61131-9) that allows sensors and other devices to provide additional valuable information to the enterprise (besides just on-off state). IO-Link is NOT a fieldbus, but an enhanced development of the current connection technology for sensors and actuators and utilizes the same cables as non-IO-Link sensors. In fact, it is very likely that many of the sensors that you currently utilize are IO-Link enabled. 

Look for this logo: 

IO-Link

What’s the Value?

Would it be valuable to know if you are starting to get a weak signal from your photoelectric sensor? Would you add more measurement sensors if you did not need to purchase and wire analog input cards? Could you save time (and therefore money) if you could automatically download new setup information to your sensors during a product changeover? Or have a new sensor automatically configure itself when it replaces a damaged one? IO-Link solves these issues. As the title suggests, IO-Link devices are the “Things” in the Industrial Internet of Things. You wouldn’t purchase smart wi-fi-enabled light switches for your home and only use them for manual on-off functions, would you?

Getting Started with IO-Link

An IO-Link system consists of the following:

  • A control system, like a Rockwell Automation® Logix controller
  • IO-Link devices, like sensors or actuators
  • An IO-Link Master, either in-cabinet or on-machine
  • Standard 3-wire cables

Rockwell Automation is the ONLY supplier that manufactures all the above components. A typical architecture may look something like this:

Rockwell Automation IO-Link

For a full listing of IO-Link-enabled sensors and an overview of the technology, please feel free to visit here.

Horizon Solutions is here to help. Could IO-Link help you achieve your productivity and profitability goals? Please contact us today.