Most of the benefits of smart industry initiatives such as industry 4.0 and the industrial Internet of things (iiot) will be realized through the availability of real-time data in factories and the possibility of taking near real-time actions. The key to this is the network of sensors and actuators distributed throughout the working environment, which can provide mission critical data, such as machine performance, process steps and inventory levels. Such sensor and actuator networks are essential to provide many of the benefits of intelligent industry, such as more flexible mass production, higher efficiency, less waste, and optimized machine uptime and service life.

Many factories in the future will be today’s factories, and new technologies will be added to the industrial infrastructure. Installing a large number of sensors and actuators requires a large number of new connections and complex rewiring in the factory. However, the IO link alliance, which consists of programmable logic controller (PLC) manufacturers, sensor and actuator manufacturers, software solution providers and semiconductor suppliers, has defined an attractive solution for this challenge – a communication protocol called IO link, referring to the International Standard IEC 61131-9.

What is Io link?

IO link is a powerful bidirectional point-to-point serial communication protocol used to connect sensors and actuators. Its definition takes into account the following main benefits from the beginning:

Plug and play capability

Integrated diagnosis

Remote parameterization and calibration

Backward compatibility

IO link allows the exchange of three types of data – process data (about the status of sensors or actuators), service data (equipment information, configuration, detailed diagnosis or status), and events (alarms or informational messages, which should be treated as once something happens).

One of the main advantages of IO link is that it is designed to easily replace existing systems while minimizing interference with cabling and infrastructure. It has a standard 3-wire function, so you can use existing cables and industrial connectors, such as M5, M8 or M12. Compared with traditional solutions, IO link not only helps upgrade existing systems, but also reduces hardware, programming and cabling costs in new systems. For example, IO links saves wiring costs by aggregating sensor signals in a hub.

Traditionally, sensor programming is done using a local interface, but it can be done remotely using IO link. This also makes replacement easier because the IO link sensor and actuator can be replaced, and the parameters of the removed sensor are automatically programmed into the replacement of the IO link controller. This allows technicians no longer to go to the factory workshop to calibrate the system, so that sensors and actuators can be replaced quickly and error free.

Plant operators can monitor the health of sensors to minimize downtime and isolate problems. This data can be used for predictive maintenance, such as through cloud based services provided by equipment manufacturers, so it can be repaired before the failure occurs, so as to be carried out at a convenient time of production planning.

IO link is also a promoter of mass customization. One of the biggest obstacles is the time to reconfigure the system, including all sensors and actuators related to production. With IO link, manufacturers can remotely automate and quickly reconfigure sensors and actuators.

IO link solution for St

As a member of IO link consortium, St provides a variety of solutions for IO link to help customers prototype and develop products quickly and easily.

IO link transceivers l6360 and l6362a provide main equipment and equipment solutions for IO link. Due to their voltage range and current processing capacity, maximum design flexibility, minimum power consumption and maximum efficiency, these products have a wide range of applications. Of course, they also provide high reliability.

Reviewed and edited by: Guo Ting

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