IO-Link enables Industry 4.0 solutions to be expanded down to even the smallest inductive sensors.
IO-Link communication technology is increasingly being used in a growing number of applications and is also recognised as an enabler for innovative sensor solutions, supporting the global availability of data and information required by Industry 4.0, which is the trend towards automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies and processes.
SICK Automation, producers of sensors and sensor solutions for industrial applications, explains that IO-Link enables Industry 4.0 solutions to be expanded down to even the smallest inductive sensors, since devices can be integrated by means of existing cabling. Switching devices and simple sensors, in particular, can benefit from this fast and cost-effective method of connecting to the data world. IO-Link can also be used to establish a reliable communication channel and to allow IO-Link-enabled sensors to be integrated into an existing network.
Sensors with an IO-Link interface can supply an array of information, such as process data, parameter settings and detailed diagnostic data using the existing connection, in real time. They are also capable, for example, of receiving new parameter sets within seconds for flexible production right down to a batch size of 1. IO-Link offers continuous digital data transmission, rather than the traditional method of analogue value transmission. It also has advantages with regard to electromagnetic compatibility as it allows standard non-shielded cables to be used, potentially reducing cabling costs.
The different parameter settings can be visualised, tested, and, if necessary, optimised during integration and commissioning. Furthermore, it is possible to store different parameter sets in the automation system and upload them to the sensor during operation without a delay. This makes it possible to automatically and remotely configure sensors installed in locations that are difficult to access.
Machines and plants with frequent changeovers between product variants can particularly benefit from this functionality, which enables changeovers to be performed quickly and with a high level of process reliability. Replacing devices also becomes easier. If a sensor is defective, the most recently used parameter set can be automatically transmitted to the replacement sensor via IO-Link.