In the fast-paced world of industrial automation, sensors and actuators have evolved significantly, boasting integrated microprocessors that enable tasks like parameterization, configuration data storage, and indication control. Nevertheless, there's an ever-growing need to break free from the confines of traditional binary standard interfaces and provide a centralized means to access additional functions within the automation system. Recognizing this challenge, esteemed manufacturers in the automation industry have united to craft a communication interface tailored specifically for sensors and actuators, one that operates independently of fieldbus protocols. This innovative interface, known as IO-Link, promises to elevate the capabilities and accessibility of these devices within the broader automation ecosystem.
IO-Link operates on a point-to-point connection model, directly linking sensors or actuators to an interface module. Historically, this binary connection was primarily utilized for transmitting basic switching information. However, IO-Link has taken a giant leap forward by introducing a combined switching status and data channel capable of transferring two bytes of data within a 2 ms cycle. This expanded functionality now facilitates the exchange of various types of information beyond just process values. Parameters and diagnostic messages, for example, can be seamlessly communicated, making universal communication with sensors and actuators a reality, extending its reach down to the very last meter of the automation system.
Until recently, the integration of IO-Link devices into Profinet projects presented challenges for users. Manually inputting device properties such as device class or manufacturer ID and configuring parameters like measuring ranges and output signals often required additional programming or separate software tools. Amissiontech has pioneered a solution to streamline this process with a new feature called Simple IO-Link Device Integration (SIDI). SIDI enables the seamless integration of IO-Link devices directly into Profinet engineering software, such as the TIA Portal. In this approach, IO-Link devices are treated as Profinet submodules within the Generic Station Description Markup Language (GSDML) of the IO-Link masters. Amissiontech has made this integration even more accessible by including all of its proprietary IO-Link devices, as well as devices from its strategic partner for optical sensors.
When the connected device is listed in the SIDI GSDML, PLC programmers enjoy the convenience of selecting it directly from the device catalog within their programming environment. This selection grants them access to a comprehensive overview of all pertinent IO-Link properties associated with these devices. Moreover, they have the ability to modify parameters like measuring ranges, output signals, or pulse rates using a straightforward plain text field. This streamlined process facilitates offline engineering with IO-Link devices, allowing for efficient configuration even when not connected to the physical equipment.
Traditional sensors often undergo multiple conversions into both digital and analog data before reaching the final evaluation within the PLC, potentially leading to a loss of precision in measured values. In contrast, IO-Link transmits data exclusively in a purely digital format using a 24 V signal, preserving the exactness of the measured values without any conversions. Furthermore, signal transmission remains highly resilient to external influences, eliminating the need for shielded cables and associated grounding, as data can now be transmitted through industry-standard cables. Additionally, the adoption of this new technology renders costly analog input cards obsolete. Amissiontech's hygienic pressure sensors, for instance, now offer continuous level detection in pressure tanks, resolving inaccuracies introduced by conversion losses and electromagnetic interference during analog signal transmission.
IO-Link masters pave the way for the seamless integration of IO-Link devices within a wide spectrum of fieldbus and control system infrastructures, extending compatibility to interfaces like PROFINET, EtherNet/IP, or AS-i, among others. The programming process is streamlined through the incorporation of function blocks within the PLC. IO-Link, conceived as an open standard, has continually evolved through collaborative efforts by prominent manufacturers in the automation industry. Additionally, it enables the connection of actuators such as valve terminals to IO-Link masters, resulting in a significantly more adaptable and streamlined plant infrastructure.
In applications such as cooling circuits, monitoring multiple process variables is commonplace to ensure precise process control. Typically, traditional measuring points involve multiple sensors, each tasked with detecting specific parameters like flow rate, total quantity, and temperature. IO-Link sensors, however, are capable of measuring and digitally transmitting multiple process values within a single unit. For instance, an IO-Link flow sensor can accurately capture all three of these values and transmit them digitally using a standard 3-wire cable. This streamlined approach substantially reduces costs related to configuration, installation, and the inventory of spare sensors.
IO-Link device parameters can be conveniently modified using dedicated parameter setting software like moneo configure. This capability facilitates swift adjustments and minimizes downtime in industrial processes. IO-Link sensors offer the option to be locked either using the sensor's operating keys or remotely through the software. This locking feature ensures that parameter changes cannot be altered without access to the software, preventing inadvertent or deliberate adjustments to the sensor's settings. Additionally, the moneo configure software enables users to save device configurations and generate detailed setting protocols for documentation and reference purposes.
IO-Link enables the concurrent transmission of both process and service data, including the retrieval of diagnostic information such as minimum and maximum values, or the detection of issues like wire breaks or short circuits. These acyclically accessible diagnostic data provide the foundation for condition-based maintenance practices, ultimately leading to increased operational uptime. Crucially, this diagnostic data remains accessible even during system operation. In a cooling circuit, for example, precise monitoring of flow rates is accomplished using magnetic-inductive inline volumetric flow sensors from the SM series. In the event of an error, the master device communicates the diagnostic data to the controller, allowing for the unequivocal identification of the malfunctioning sensor. This streamlined process enhances system reliability and simplifies maintenance procedures.
IO-Link technology represents a major leap forward in industrial automation, and Amissiontech is a pioneer in harnessing its potential. From accuracy and independence to simplified integration, remote configuration and advanced monitoring, IO-Link offers numerous benefits that are reshaping industrial processes. Amissiontech invites you to embrace the future of automation, where efficiency, accuracy and innovation come together to create a smarter world of industrial automation.