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IO-Link is key for Industry 4.0

22 December 2015

Industry 4.0 will only become reality via standardised communication interfaces. For this reason IO-Link has a prominent role with simple sensors, whereas Ethernet and Ethernet-based field buses are more prominent with sensors that are more high-performance and bigger, says Gary Hockin, Leuze electronic UK national sales manager.

The demand for IO-Link sensors has increased significantly, at least this is the feeling that we have at Leuze electronic. Particularly for sensors that provide more information than a switching state bit, such as distance measuring sensors, the IO-Link-interface is the ideal choice, since it has advantages in terms of both accuracy and profitability.

The interface can also be used with sensors with more configuration options, such as contrast scanners, since convenient operation from the controller is possible. The use of IO-Link is particularly obvious with sensors such as these. However, the demand for IO-Link-functionality has now also increased for simpler sensors such as scanners, retro-reflective photoelectric sensors and fiber optic sensors.

The main obstacle for IO-Link is to persuade customers to use yet another interface. Many machine construction companies have now implemented the first IO-Link installations and have come to appreciate this standardised serial interface.

IO-Link will be given further impetus by external data warehousing, which is included as of version 1.1 and makes it possible to replace a sensor without re-configuring. Leuze electronic has already implemented this in many of its sensors.

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