IO-Link is the global communication standard (IEC 61131-9) that transforms how we connect and communicate with digital sensors and actuators. Using wired or wireless configurations, this technology overcomes integration challenges and allows devices to seamlessly share enriched data sets.
On this page, you’ll learn more about how it works and how it can increase productivity, reduce expenses, and conserve resources in industrial settings.
We’ll also explore how this technology compares to similar digital communication solutions and answer frequently asked questions. You can get more details by visiting the links to our Learn More pages.
What if you could get more information without increasing cost, engineering time and complexity? What if we told you your existing infrastructure could already provide more insight?
Sensors and actuators are the eyes and ears of your equipment. But, your machines and processes are limited by what your sensors can tell you.
Enhanced digital communication unlocks the data that already exists in your system. With IO-Link data, you get access to real-time process data, parameter data, and predictive data that’s more reliable and accurate than what an analog signal provides.
IO-Link is an open standard communications protocol that is globally supported by sensor and controls companies. The digital, bidirectional, point-to-point interface integrates with virtually any automated system. The result is a 100% digital path to your PLC from a field-mounted sensor.
Unlike a fieldbus system, it works using a straightforward point-to-point communication method with conventional 3-wire sensor and actuator connections.
The IO-Link master replaces a traditional analog input card with a digital communication path between the master and device. Up to 8 IO-Link devices such as sensors, valves, and I/O modules can be connected to a single master depending on the configuration of the master. The master transmits machine data, process parameters, and diagnostic information to a PLC controller or directly to a higher level IioT controls system.
Digital real-time communication and easy data retreival are the backbone of IO-Link's important benefits for facilities in many industries:
100% digital communication is more reliable and accurate than an analog signal. And, predictive information from sensors improves product quality and instrument verification processes.
Reduce expenses by eliminating analog input cards and reducing the size of control cabinets.
Reduce cycle time for recipe changes with bidirectional communication between process instruments and a higher level controller.
With the automatic device replacement feature of IO-Link enabled sensors, parameters from an existing device are automatically downloaded onto the replacement device. This minimizes unplanned downtime and gets your machine up and running faster.
This communications protocol has grown exponentially over the last decade for a number of reasons.
Scalable technology from simple binary On/Off devices up to smart IO-Link enabled sensors provide complete process transparency that quickly integrates into existing controls architecture.
Savings of approximately 50% per point on input cards without the need for analog PLC cards.
With ifm, there is often no impact on sensor cost because the communication is already available in most of our sensors.
Replacing analog communication requires few changes to controls architecture. And, each device can be connected using standard 3-wire unshielded cabling.
IO-Link combines the best of all worlds with the functionality of analog signals anintelligence of Ethernet communication at the cost of binary On/Off points.
|Binary On/Off||Analog||IO-Link||Ethernet based|
|Amount of data||1 bit||16 bits||32 bytes||Many bytes|
|Remote sensor parameter adjustment|
|Automatic sensor parameter replacement|
|Standard sensor cordsets|
|Complexity to integrate|
Analog systems are still in use at many facilities and are less expensive to install then IO-Link. However, they suffer from data losses when the signal coverts from analog to digital so it can integrate with modern software. The data losses become more severe in setups with multiple conversion points. IO-Link is fully digital, avoiding any data losses even connection span large distances.
HART protocol is well-known, especially in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and chemical industries. Like IO-Link, it provides bidirectional communication of data between sensors and the controls system. Digital and analog signals are transmitted over cables. Integrating HART requires specific programming knowledge.
In the rapidly-evolving landscape of industrial technology and automation, ifm is committed to innovation, efficiency, and conserving resources. We’re dedicated to universal protocols and advancing interconnection between ecosystems.
ifm is a founding member of the IO-Link consortium. This group works with industry leaders to further the technology and integration, upholds quality standards, holds workshops, and more. The consortium has more than 250 members and counting.
ifm offers one of the largest selections of sensors and other IO-Link-compatible devices. Our broad offering allows you to implement a comprehensive digital communication system on all your machines and processes.