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IO-Link 101: 8 Common Questions Answered

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You may be hearing a lot of buzz about IO-Link lately, but do you know what it is or how it works? Below are the answers to common questions about IO-Link technology, what it does, who can benefit from it, and more.

1.   What is IO-Link? IO-Link Comtrol_Group final

IO-Link is a standardized, bi-directional communication protocol supported on sensors or actuators, which are connected through a master. This gives the user/integrator more information about their devices and allows them to have remote access, which fits into the hot topic of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or Industry 4.0. IO-Link is a complimentary technology to an existing PLC, HMI or other controls architecture.

What IO-Link is Not: IO-Link is not another fieldbus. Rather, it was developed to reduce dependability on fieldbus support by manufacturers and users alike. It is designed to be as simple and universal as possible, requiring only standard M12/M8/M5 cables (no special cabling or connectors). It is also not a proprietary communication protocol, but rather a recognized international standard (IEC 61131-9).

2.   How is an IO-Link Sensor Different From a Standard IO Sensor?

Compared to a standard IO sensor, a sensor with IO-Link allows the user to see much more data about the sensor and even allows the ability to change the sensor’s settings without having to stop a manufacturing or production line to access the individual sensor. With an IO-Link sensor, you are also able to store parameters or settings inside of a master block, such as Comtrol offers, which can then be loaded to a brand new, factory-default device if necessary.

3.   What Kind of Data Can You See with IO-Link?

With IO-Link, you can see the manufacturer information and part number, among other data, of your sensors that are connected to the master block. So, if a sensor needs replacement but the lettering of the manufacturer or part number has rubbed off or become illegible, you can quickly see the exact model that needs to be replaced with this information already built in with IO-Link. This is also called Service Date, information that is not relative to a device’s function but rather about the device itself.

You can also view sensor performance and diagnostic information remotely through an IO-Link sensor. This is called Process Data (information that the sensor is reading, like temperature or distance) or Event Data (notifications or flags indicating, for example, a dirty lens, an error, communication loss to a sensor, etc.)

4.   What Kinds of Settings Can Be Changed with IO-Link?

A user can change the settings of an individual sensor without stopping the line to manually change the sensor settings one-by-one. With a web interface for instance, the user is provided access to these settings remotely. One of the most common uses of this capability is to change the read ranges of the sensors for product changeover.For example, if a manufacturer is producing “Product A” and “Product B” on the same line and needs to change sensor settings in-between the processes, this can be achieved by storing parameter sets in the PLC and then sending them out through the master block to sensors when a change is needed. The result? With IO-Link there is a potential for drastic reduction in downtime.

5.   What is an IO-Link System Comprised Of?

An IO-Link system consists of IO-Link sensors or actuators and an IO-Link master block. The information from an IO-Link device is communicated through an industrial Ethernet protocol, most commonly EtherNet/IP, PROFINET/IO, or Modbus TCP. The user can then access the sensor-level information and change sensor data remotely via the embedded web interface, PLC, HMI or other controller.

6.   Do I need a PLC to use IO-Link?

It depends on your industry and application. For example, Comtrol worked with one systems integrator in the mining industry that did not have a PLC present for a project. Instead, they used a connected PC to access sensor-level data from their presence detection IO-Link sensors. This allowed them to remotely view the results of the sensors checking for the presence of minerals.

7.   What are the Key Benefits of IO-Link?

IO-Link has three primary benefits: remote accessibility, auto-device replacement, and diagnostic capability. All of these key features of IO-Link contribute to reducing costly downtime, generally at manufacturing or production plants, and also gives the user much more information about their sensors or actuators.

Remote Accessibility: Refers to the capability to access sensor-level information and make changes from anywhere, as long as the user is able to connect to the a master and/or a network.

Auto-Device Replacement: Refers to IO-Link’s data storage feature that allows the user to download an old sensor’s data into a new sensor for seamless device replacement. This means that the new sensor can be quickly installed with all the settings of its predecessor, which ensures the line can be up and running in a timely manner.

Diagnostic Capability: Refers to the ability to see errors and other important information without having to stop the entire line to investigate the problem. For example, in material handling applications, a problem with a sensor would traditionally mean shutting down the system so that a person can access it and manually troubleshoot and makes changes to the device. With the ability to see error codes or other events through the web interface, the user can quickly identify which sensor is malfunctioning and what the problem is. No line shutdown required.

8.   What Industries Are Adopting IO-Link Technology?

Key industries that Comtrol is seeing use IO-Link include automotive, material handling, manufacturing, food & beverage, and many other industries, especially those that experience frequent changeover or typically long downtime.

 

Originally seen on SICK USA’s Blog: http://sickusablog.com/io-link-101-faq/

 

Update on Comtrol’s IO-Link Resources

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Update on Comtrol’s IO-Link Resources: As Comtrol has been designated as the North American Competency Center for IO-Link, we are in the process of building our online resources.

Update on Comtrol's IO-Link Resources

New: Comtrol’s IO-Link Resources Available

Our IO-Link page is available HERE, and we have added new resources on our IO-Link Products, IO-Link Resources, and IO-Link Solutions

We are continuously updating our online resources, so check back for more updates on IO-Link!

DeviceMaster Simplifies Direct Monitoring and Control for Multiple Substations

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DeviceMaster Simplifies Direct Monitoring and Control for Multiple Substations

DeviceMaster Simplifies Direct Monitoring and Control for Multiple Substations

DeviceMaster Simplifies Direct Monitoring and Control for Multiple Substations

Supplying electric services to over one million customers is no easy feat, but one U.S. energy company was able to do so thanks to Comtrol’s DeviceMaster RTS 16-port.

Connecting the DeviceMaster RTS to relays and RTUs (remote terminal units) gave this company control over each substation by connecting numerous devices, and gaining real-time monitoring access and control over data from each station. The information that is collected by the DeviceMaster is communicated directly to the central station by Ethernet.

The DeviceMaster RTS family of serial device servers enables browser-based remote port/device monitoring and configuration. Available in a variety of port sizes,
DeviceMaster RTS can simplify maintenance, reduce cost-of-ownership, and translate savings and efficiencies to your company’s bottom line!

Read the full story HERE 

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Communication Solutions for Traffic Monitoring

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Every day we rely on traffic control technology to keep our commutes safe.  Traffic lights, railroad systems and subway systems need reliable connectivity for proper functioning. But how can you ensure reliable connectivity?

The Iowa Department of Transportation was recently updating their traffic intersection monitoring systems, and was looking for a way to enable communication between cameras, battery backups, priority preemption systems, traffic controllers and other components that make a traffic light function. Comtrol’s RocketLinx ES8510-XT was put in place to provide reliable communication, while also relaying data back to the traffic management systems.IowaDOT

The RocketLinx ES8510-XT is an industrial Ethernet switch that provides rugged connectivity solutions for industrial Ethernet networks and systems such as  traffic intersection management. Along with having IP31-grade protection for rugged, harsh environments, these switches are designed to provide dependable networking solutions.

Read the full story HERE

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Meeting Safety Standards by Remote Communication

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31300-7 DM FreeWire 72 dpi

What happens when hazardous locations make safety and health standards difficult to comply with? How is one supposed to make an area safe to work in, when they cannot physically fix the problem at hand? How is one supposed to make an area safe to work in, when they cannot physically fix the problem at hand?

One such problem occurs when mining operations need to continue after a mine has been closed. The ground around the mine is weak and hazardous, and the mine must be filled in order to ensure safety.

A laser movement technology designer used Comtrol’s DeviceMaster Freewire to create laser based measurement system. This laser measurement system, called The Void Scanner (or VS150), asses the volume and the layout of the void, giving the technology designer and its customers a 3D view of the mine, and the ability to determine the exact amount of material that is needed to fill the void. Once that amount is known, VS150 can facilitate boom deployment, and provide a safer mining environment

DeviceMaster Freewire is a wireless serial bridge featuring 802.11b/g wireless communications with option of direct 10/100 Ethernet connection. It is a flexible, secure, rugged, and compatible wireless device server.

Read the full story HERE

Subscribe to our newsletter HERE

Industry Highlight: Government

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Land Sea and Air

The government is increasingly implementing new projects and military-based operations, especially as advances in technology continue. Several of Comtrol’s products have been beneficial to our government sectors.

Comtrol’s RocketLinx®industrial managed and Power over Ethernet switches have capabilities to provide power and essential networking connectivity to vital components of complex security networks. RocketLinx has supported and improved the training of military soldiers by enabling PoE Ethernet and fiber connections between IP cameras and the monitoring room.

Our DeviceMaster® device servers have facilitated multiple-location data transmission and complex sensor system coordination for military simulator training systems and unmanned vehicle (UMV) control designed for autonomous military operations.

Comtrol’s RocketPort® serial cards provide system expansion and connectivity in applications including military biological detection systems and peripheral device connectivity onboard unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and Air Force One.

READ MORE about Comtrol devices in government applications

 

Traffic Solutions with RocketLinx

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For traffic and transportation companies requiring reliable high power devices, look no further than Comtrol’s RocketLinx Series of Industrial Ethernet switches and Power over Ethernet switches. Designed for applications like traffic control, which requires extended operating temperatures and remote access, RocketLinx can meet the performance Insidetrafficecabinet_RocketLinxand environmental demands that the
industry requires.

With both managed and unmanaged models available, the RocketLinx series of switches provide cost-effective networking solutions delivering the industry’s best rugged Ethernet switch technologies. RocketLinx also offers features such as remote reboot, powerful web configuration, and Comtrol’s PortVision DX software – which allows you to remotely access, manage, and configure RocketLinx units from a single application. Traffic and transportation companies utilize these features for freeway traffic management and intersection monitoring, where devices are often difficult to reach directly. Along with having IP31 grade protection for rugged, harsh environments, these switches provide dependable networking solutions for a variety of applications.

Available in port sizes ranging from 4 to 24, and designed with rugged, drip-proof housings, redundant power inputs and performance command-line interfaces, RocketLinx switches and Power over Ethernet switches provide reliable networking solutions.

Read more HERE

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Improve Diagnostics and Reduce Wiring for Sensors and Actuators with IO-Link

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mobile diagnostics

IO-Link, the first standardized IO technology for communication with sensors and actuators, is a powerful point-to-point communication based on the long established 3-wire sensor and actuator connection. In addition to working smoothly in any control system, IO-Link encompasses features that give you better diagnostics and can reduce wiring for your devices.

IO-Link gateways allow you to connect multiple smart devices via one IP address, saving you time and money in installation time.

With IO-Link, you can reduce the time needed to fix a broken sensor. Say a sensor fails. If you have a large control system, it may take a while for that sensor to be found. Then when it is found, it may be difficult to reach. IO-Link gives you all the information you need to find and fix that sensor, including diagnostics of the process control system, remote programming, and even custom replacements that can be done automatically. Comtrol’s IO-Link Masters provide diagnostics about both sides of a given connection; you will get information about the IO-Link connection that is running from the IO-link master to the end device and you will get detailed information about the industrial data protocol.

The ability to do remote parameterization can be combined with the support for remote diagnostics. Troubleshooting and fixing problems with a system can all be done remotely.Additionally, for those processes or systems where a “recipe” architecture is appropriate, IO-Link sensors and actuators can be remotely parameterized by the PLC in bulk via a simple selector switch or other minimal operator action. This powerful feature could be used to maximize quality or increase duty cycle via extended capital versatility without the burden of reconfiguring each device one at a time.

IO-Link is the further development of the existing, tried-and-tested connection technology for sensors and actuators, which can be easily integrated into a system network with existing and new industrial Ethernet installations. Come and see why you should implement IO Link in your system today.

Download PDF Version HERE

Learn more about IO-Link HERE

Creative Solutions for Industrial Automation

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In an industry as unique as industrial automation, it can be difficult to find the products to fit your business’ needs. Comtrol’s products have many applications in the industrial space. Our DeviceMaster UP, RocketLinx Industrial Ethernet switches, and IO-Link Masters have been utilized in manufacturing and distribution centers, connecting multiple production processes, and in making efficient applications run seamlessly.

With its feature rich options, Comtrol’s DeviceMaster UP provides EtherNet/IP™, Modbus/TCP, Modbus RTU/ASCII, and PROFINET connectivity to a wide variety of devices. Easily connect your PLCs to serial and Ethernet TCP/IP devices such as barcode scanners, RFID readers, weigh scales, vision systems, printers, encoders, and sensors. DeviceMaster UP has been used in many industrial automation settings to improve the efficiency of assembly lines, communication between different automated systems, and more.

The RocketLinx Industrial Ethernet switches are designed to meet the performance and environmental demands for applications requiring extended operating temperatures, rugged housings and high performance and reliability. With both managed and unmanaged models available, the RocketLinx ES series of switches provide cost-effective networking solutions delivering the industry’s best Ethernet switch technologies.

Offering advanced industrial protocol gateways such as IO-Link masters, to ruggedized Ethernet and PoE switches, power supplies, and media converters, Comtrol has a solution for your industrial manufacturing application.


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