IO-Link is the first standardized I/O technology for the communication of sensors and actuators. IO-Link has several advantages that save costs and optimize processes. The advantages of IO-Link are as following:
A great advantage of IO-Link is that less (complex) wiring is necessary. IO-Link sensors can be connected through a cable of up to 20 meters with three conductors.
With IO-Link the user receives more data. Processes are more smooth and faster because of the direct contact with the sensor, which in turn saves time and costs. Some data is cyclic and is automatically sent repeatedly. Other data is acyclic, thus can be exchanged upon request. There are three primary data types available:
- Process data consists of measurements sent by the sensor to the master. This data is often transferred acyclically. The time frame for the data transfer intervals can be set by the user.
- Device data is data about the sensor itself like parameters, a serial number or a description of the sensor. With IO-Link this data is easy to request (acyclically), but also to edit. This makes communication with the sensor more convenient.
- Event data consists of information like error messages and warnings that are sent acyclically to the master.
Configuring and adjusting sensors is fast and easy with the IO-Link software. Installation times are reduced by this. In the event of a possible malfunctioning or an outage this is reported realtime which makes it easier and faster to resolve.
Because the parameters and data of the sensors are saved digitally it is easy to replace a broken sensor quickly. When the new sensor is connected to the IO-Link network, the data and settings of the old sensor can be configured into the new sensor. In computer technology this is also known as hot swapping because the component is replaced while the whole system is online and working.
This is made possible by the so-called IODD file. This is a file format that is supported by every IO-Link device. The correct file for your sensor can be downloaded from the IODD database This file stores the parameters and other device information. These can then be read by the master and eventually the controller, usually a PLC.
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With IO-Link it is also possible to monitor how well the sensor works. This is made possible by realtime data exchange but also by saving older data digitally. The efficiency of machines improve by this and in the event of a sensor performing under expectations it is easy to look for and detect problems without shutting off machinery.