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IO-Link in the food industry

In the food industry precise measurements, for example on pressure tanks, are required to ensure a constant product quality. Plant failures have to be detected quickly so as to keep the number of production stops as low as possible. All these are everyday topics in the food and beverage industry. The application examples on a tank show how IO-Link helps to minimise these failures.


No external influence of the signal

IO-Link data transfer is based on a 24 V signal and is therefore extremely insensitive to external influence. IO-Link sensors are connected with standard M12 connectors. Screened cables and associated grounding are no longer necessary. Pressure, temperature and level values are thus transmitted reliably.


No measured value losses

No measured value losses / high precision. The entire measured value transmission is digital. Transmission that is prone to errors and conversion of analogue signals is replaced. The digitally transferred measured values can be directly displayed in the control room. 

PI-series hygienic pressure sensors continuously detect the level in the pressure tanks. In the past, conversion losses and EMC interference during the analogue signal transmission of the level caused inaccuracies. Thanks to the continuous digital transmission of measured values by means of IO-link, the tank content is now transmitted to the controller with high precision.

Analogue or digital with IO-Link

So far:
Analogue signals are digitised via A/D converters and scaled in the PLC. This leads to inaccuracies of the actual measuring value. 

Measured values are digitally transferred from the sensor to the controller. That is why the transferred value is always identical with the measured value

The level in the pressure tanks is continuously detected via type PI hygienic pressure sensors. Due to the losses during transfer of the measured value and the EMC influences there used to be considerable imprecision / deviations when the tank level is detected. Thanks to IO-Link the continuous detection of the tank level is now possible with high precision.


Easy sensor replacement

The IO-Link master stores all parameters of the connected sensors. After replacement the previous parameters are automatically written to the new sensor. Looking up the required sensor settings is not necessary.

The PI hygienic pressure sensor is used to measure the level in a tank. The setting of all parameters and programming of the switch points can be made via two programming buttons or IO-Link. During replacement the parameters are automatically copied to the new sensor. They do not have to be entered manually.


Tamper free

The standardised unit parameter setting allows locking of the operating keys on the device. Therefore wrong settings by the operators are no longer possible. Documentation of the parameters is possible at any time.

ifm PI-series pressure sensors detect the head pressure in an aseptic warehouse tank. To avoid tampering caused by subsequent wrong settings of the sensor via the operating buttons it is possible to lock these via IO-Link.



IO-Link ensures unambiguous device identification. Sensors with IO-Link capability are clearly identified by vendor and device ID. Exclusive use of original spares is ensured.

IO-Link ensures that only a sensor of the same type is used for replacement.


Condition monitoring / diagnostics

With IO-Link transfer of process and service data takes place simultaneously. Errors are immediately detected by the master. All diagnostic data can be accessed even during operation. This enables condition-based maintenance and ensures high plant uptime.

The flow rate of process water in the food and beverage industry is precisely monitored by means of the SM-series inline mag-flow meters. If an error occurs, the diagnostic data is transferred from the master to the controller. The failed sensor is identified unambiguously.


Controller and fieldbus independent

IO-Link masters offer interfaces to Profinet, Ethernet IP, Profibus, Ethercat or AS-i. All sensor parameters are stored in the IO-Link master.


Remote access to the sensor parameters

All IO-Link sensor parameters can be changed via the control system. Adjustments can be made quickly and downtime minimised, e.g. for product changeovers.


Differentiation of media, detection of foam and soiling

Use IO-Link and see what the sensor is measuring. The level sensor can be used as a pure binary sensor. Thanks to the integrated IO-Link interface it can even transmit the current process value. This allows for example differentiation between the product and the cleaning agent in the controller. It is also possible to detect residual soiling or foam after cleaning processes, e.g. to protect pumps. In short: IO-Link enables transparent diagnostics of the medium or the cleaning process.