What is IO-Link?

Industrial processes can always be more efficient, but is that cost-efficient? Industrial automation (industry 4.0) is an important topic for many industrial companies to save costs and produce more efficiently. IO-Link makes it possible to be cheaper and more efficient!

What does IO-Link do?

Industry 4.0 is a development that has gained importance over the years for industrial companies. This is the movement to a world in which all components within a sytem closely communicate with each other, are analyzed and where all (measured) data in real-time and is immediately available for everyone (who has access to it). Sensors are part of a whole system of equipment and machines in an industrial process. All parts must be able to communicate properly and quickly so that errors are prevented and processes that are already functioning properly run faster and more efficiently. IO-Link is the technology that makes this communication possible without the need for extra cables, etc. IO-Link lives up to its role in industrial processes, due to its easy integration into existing industrial setups and networks. This makes it the first I/O technology to be accepted as a world standard.

A typical IO-Link system

An IO-Link set-up consists of a controller, master and a slave device. The connection in this set-up is established through 3-wired or 5-wired interface cables..

The master is responsible for being able to connect a device to the IO-Link network on the one hand and for exchanging data with it between the device and the controller on the other. This data consists of data and parameters that must be communicated with each other.

The second component is the device. This can be a sensor, an actuator or both. These perceive data about units such as distance and temperature that has to be communicated with the controller in a cyclical manner. Through IO-Link, this information is converted and exchanged without interruptions and in real time (at the moment of perception). The output of this conversion is digital.

What does an IO-Link system provide for your company?

1. Easier installation with less wiring

Conventional sensors often use a lot of wiring for the installation and connection with a controller. With IO-Link sensors less (complex) wiring is needed. The IO-Link sensors ofen can be easily and quickly connected via a single cable of up to 20 meter with 3 or 5 conductors. This makes the possibility for false wiring and any disruptions very little. Furthermore there are made no demands on the fieldbuses or operating systems during the installation, which means that the IO-Link devices via the IO-Link master with can communicate with almost every possible, such as Profibus, Profinet, Ethernet, etc.

2. Time and cost-saving configuration

With the IO-Link software it is possible to easily and quickly to configure all connected sensors. When parameters should be adapted, this can be easily done with the software. the IO-Link master saves all parameters of all connected sensors or actuators. The moment that a disruption occurs or when there is a defect sensor, this is passed on in real-time and then the problem can often be solved very fast.

Easy replacement of old sensors

Because the parameters and data of the sensors are saved digitally it is easy to replace a broken sensor quickly. previously this resulted in long lasting and frequent shut downs of machines, with inefficienties and costly improductivity as a result. Now, the moment a new sensor is connected to the IO-Link network, the data and settings of the old sensor can be configured into the new sensor.  

3. More data transfer in real-time

Conventional sensors measure values that are transferred into digital or analog value on specific moments before they are communicated with the controller. With IO-Link sensors the user always receives the real-time values of for example the water level in a tank. Becasuse of the direct and real-time contact with the sensor, this speeds up and eases the processes, which saves time and costs.

Some data is cyclical and will be sent automatically and regularly. Other data is acyclical, data which you can request. there four primary data types available:

Process data

Process data involves real-time data for controlling the connected device: the sensor, in this case. The master communicates control data (cyclically) to the sensor and then receives feedback. Think here of the different water levels that are measured in a tank.

Value status

Value status is validation of the process data. There will be checked if the communicated data is correct or includes mistakes/is incomplete. To execute this control of the process data (in sync) this data will also be communicated cyclically. This is the verification of the water levels before these are sent to the IO-Link master and in the end the controller.

Device data

Device data is information that is requested from the device (slave) by the IO-Link master and includes data such as the set parameters of the sensor, data for the identification of the sensor and information to establish diagnostic for issues. Think with this data of the specialized range within the tank and the network adress of the sensor.     

Events data

Events data concerns the communication of warnings and mistakes from the sensor to the master. An example is a defect or a bad functioning sensor, because of too much moist in the housing. These provide fast identification of problems and easier maintenance.

4. More information available for the user

With conventional sensors only the values measured digitally or analog are available for an user. With the innovative IO-Link sensors a lot more information will be available. This way you can exactly see what the condition of the sensor is. This is possible because of the received real-time data, but also historical data that is all stored digitally in the software. This improved the efficiency of all machines during industrial processes. The moment that a sensor malfunctioning or with a cable break tracking and tackling this problem is easier without having to shut of the machine.

What Sensor Partners has to offer in the area of IO-Link

Above has been defined why IO-Link could be attractive for an industrial company to introduce. The question is now whether IO-Link can also be deployed in your application area and can actually provide more efficiency and cost-saving in industrial processes. Sensor Partners offers a varied range of sensor solutions which support IO-Link. These sensors can be set up in many different industries and applications. Examples of sensor solutions are:

Is IO-Link something for your company?

Not sure yet whether to make the switch to IO-Link or would you like to know how IO-Link can work for you? Contact us by phone: +31 0416-378 239. You will receive advice on the integration of IO-Link based on your specific area of application. You can also ask for a free quote!

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