Ready for Industry 4.0

22 November 2016

With more than 350 different models incorporating IO-Link and two million IO-Link- enabled devices in the field, ifm electronic is prepared for the streamlined, efficient production that has become known as Industry 4.0.

The company manufactures IO-Link-enabled sensors for position, level, pressure, flow and more.It has  IO-Link masters available for all major fieldbuses and PLCs to complement the field modules and sensors. ifm electronic believes the headline advantages of IO-Link are clear – configuration is easier and the health of a system can be constantly monitored. Other benefits include virtually error-free analogue value transmission and extra device functions not otherwise accessible. 

The error-free value transmission is ideal for process control, where critical temperatures, pressure must be maintained for production quality. With a traditional 4 to 20mA transmission there may be several conversions of the measured value between the sensing element and the plc. Not so with IO-Link, because the true value is simply digitised and sent directly to the plc, incurring no losses. This has the added advantage that expensive analogue input cards are not needed. IO-Link even performs well in environments prone to electrical noise, and with IO-Link designed around M12 connectors, no special wiring is needed.

IO-Link is an open, standardised (IEC 61131-9) point-to-point communication technology for sensors and actuators. Each port of an IO-Link master can handle analogue values as well as binary switching signals and. The IO-Link communication takes place via the same port. 

ifm electronic offers a wide variety of sensors for process control with IO-Link built in. From pressure to temperature sensors, flow meters and level control, the ifm range goes from strength to strength. 

One new device just launched, the LT, combines a temperature measurement with a level indication, over IO-Link, and another, the TV series offers a highly accurate and compact device with two adjustable temperature switch points.  

To complement these there are new display devices in the DP series, suitable for local installation with any device having a traditional 4 to 20mA output, and it can be used to create a switched output, too.

A useful feature of IO-Link installations is the parameter storage: process sensors often have to be set, so if a device is damaged it can take a while to find the correct set-points, recall the defined procedures for that unit, then replace it. With IO-Link, as long the replacement is of an identical type, the settings are retained in the system and downloaded automatically.